To continue with the events week theme on State of Search, I spoke to a some of the blogging team to get their tips and pointers on attending events and taking notes at events.
Many of the State of Search blogging team are pros when it comes to writing up conference sessions seeing as they have attended and covered so many for us. We are hoping that you can take away a few pointers from them to make going to conferences a better experience for you in 2013.
The two questions that were asked:
- What is your top tip for taking notes and/or blogging at a conference or event?
- What is your top tip for preparing to attend a conference or event?
Let’s get started:
1. The iPad of iPhone for quick notes. Writing it down doesn’t really work for me because I tend to never look at this again. By making small notes and saving URL’s this works much better. I never did live blogging at a conference so I don’t have tips for that.
2. It’s really great if the conference like SES last year has a app for the iPhone of a good mobile website with all the updates, presentations, schedule, etc. So I tend to look for that.
1. Try to capture more than just takeaways from sessions. The stories the speakers are telling provide context for their tips and are far more interesting. How many times have you seen takeaways like – “Personalise your outreach emails” or “Contact via twitter rather than emailing” – meh. Not interesting. Telling the story of how or why this helped a campaign and citing specific examples is much more interesting. Also link out like a crazy person. If a speaker mentions a brand, or piece of content, or tool – link to it. Make it easy for readers – don’t make them go off and Google it themselves.
2. If you’re live blogging a session (or multiple sessions) at an event you can easily write your intro paragraph about the speaker (or speakers if it’s a panel discussion) ahead of the event. Make sure you include links to their company sites, twitter profiles and personal sites, plus a little bit about them. This means that you’re primed and ready to blog their sessions from the outset rather than trying to write an intro and missing half of what they’re saying.
Also remember your power cable. Want to make friends? Pack a spare. You will be the most popular person ever.
1. Take the notes in the format you would use in the blog – enables you to get the article published faster and with less work.
2. Write the intro for each speaker the day before the event, that way you know about the speaker and you’re able to get the post published faster.
1. Write the post in advance as much as you can with speaker pics, links to their profiles, email the speakers in advance and ask for an outline which you can use as a structure
2. Tweet about it and see who else is going, arrange to meetup if possible. I did this when I went to my very first conference (as I didn’t know anyone) and it helped me massively
1. What Paddy said 🙂 Also, get drunk at the social gathering afterwards.
2. Always prep. Like Paddy said it’s great to prep a post with intro copy, speaker bios, etc, but also before that you need to look at a conference schedule (esp multi-track conferences like SES) and plot an agenda for the most valuable sessions – not for yourself, but for your readers. And that means going beyond the big name speakers, and looking at the actual substance of a session.
1. I’d suggest spending a few minutes at the end of a session reviewing the notes you’ve written to make sure they make sense, and add some additional context. You’ll remember the points made by the speaker then, but the next week when you’re back in the office, you probably won’t.
2. For preparing, do a bit of research into the speakers you don’t know -they might be experts in your areas of interest/have something new to offer. It’s not always the big brands or the well-known speakers who give the best talks (SoS bloggers excluded)
1. See if you can see anything on slideshare beforehand and I have started to take a small camera with a big battery to take pics of slides as often you don’t get them at the gig or for weeks after – I started to format posts after Sam suggested it too – yeah and agreed – get drunk with Barry – not a bad plan at all.
Get to each session early to get the slot where you can 1 hear, 2 take decent pictures
2. I would also sit next to people you have no idea who they are at lunch and ask them what they thought of X talk – you might get some interesting opinions (or even quotes/interviews) and you’ll deffo connect with what ‘the people’ are interested in reading about – there are a lot of big brands that go to these in the audience and if you don’t look at the badges, you might miss out – you just don’t know who is connected to who – I would also say hang out in the expo hall – get to know the exhibitors – they are at every event – we write about them, talk about them, so go meet them
1. One I got from Jaamit a few years back. If liveblogging via a non too stable wifi, write your live text in a text file copy and paste as you go, that way if your wireless goes down you’re not reliant on most recent autosave for that chunk of your post you just lost.
1. Second Jaamit’s txt file recommendation – he gave me that tip too! Make sure you have everything you can write about the speakers/presentation without hearing it ready: bios, pics etc. Bullet point everything then turn it into sentences
2. Speak to other bloggers before the event, plan your route/schedule as much as possible. Cover off less popular events as well – I’ve made myself go to talks that I wouldn’t necessarily normally choose, either due to an unknown topic or because nobody else was covering it. They’ve often ended up being the most interest/created the most engaged conversation.
And one last prep top tip (which I’m including in my post due to go live tomorrow GMT time) – speak to people you know are attending the conf beforehand. Especially ones you’ve never met in person and/or if you’re a conf newbie – it’s a whole world easier going there if you feel like there are people there you ‘know’ albeit even only virtually, and it helps get wider conversation/networking flowing too!
Annabel also wrote a post on this subject here
1. Haven’t done it in a while, but I would work at listening and not worrying about getting all the information down. Most things said in a session are not new, you want the new stuff.
2. Tip for going is to look up people and companies attending. Know what your goals are (meeting people, getting new customers, finding a job, finding the solution to a problem, overall education) and prep for that.