If you’re anything like me, you will come away from MLA with a mountain of ideas and the motivation to put inspiration into action.
However, all too often, ideas, notes, goals and anything else that set you on fire during the conference will fizzle away once you return home. The question is, how can we keep our conference momentum?
The reason I’m writing about keeping momentum at the beginning of MLA rather than the end is one key point – preparation. Being prepared and organized throughout the conference is key. Conferences can be overwhelming. There is so much to do, and so much to see. Review the program ahead of time, highlight sessions, meetings and posters you want to attend. Read the abstracts. Make your selections and schedule your time. That being said, the gems of conferences often happen during the unscheduled moments. A chance meeting, an unplanned session that catches your interest, or an enlightening conversation during a tour or a networking event. Prepare, and prepare to be flexible.
2. Write down the MAIN take-away
The amount of information thrown your way during conferences is astronomical. I often come away from conferences with dozens of pages of notes, quotes, and tidbits. Keep things simple by including the main take-away from each session you attend. What really hit home? What was the main point? I like to write down these take-aways in a separate place, so after the conference I can easily review the major points that really struck a chord. Take-aways can be recorded for each session, or even each day. It’s up to you.
3. Keep a list of actions
There are many occasions during a conference that I find myself saying, that’s a great idea, I should do that. Having a page to keep all these ideas organized is helpful. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and have a looong list of actions. That’s okay. When you get back to your office you can review these actions and determine what will work and what won’t, and what you really want to do and what you don’t.
4. Review your notes and actions
This one is big. You’ve got bunches of notes, dozens of take-aways, and a long list of actions. It’s all too easy to set them on your desk and never look at them again. The intention is there, but daily life gets in the way. I like to set aside time, right when I get back from a conference to review my notes and actions. I look everything over, create an electronic version of my notes, and pull out the actions that I really want to do.
5. Set goals and go
This is it. Through preparation, main point take-aways, and creating and later weeding through actions, I set my goals. Having realistic, timely, and measurable goals helps me keep the momentum I gained at an exciting conference.
Enjoy MLA! I hope you all come away with inspiration and the momentum to accomplish great things!