Making the most of attending #theleanevent

These days it is pretty rare for me to attend conferences that I am not speaking at and like at least one of the speakers at this conference this means the rest of the talks somewhat wash over me as I stress about my own.

I was determined to make the most of this opportunity and also to make sure I had something to share with my team(s) — I am always a bit uncomfortable making use of our teams limited training/events budget as a manager — I’d rather it was spent on my team — but I decided #theleanevent looked really on target for my personal learning objectives this year (literally personal to me!)

My plan was to publicly blog the talks as I went along — live blogging seemed a little too ambitious but the structure of the event offered regular opportunities to work and publish plus it gave me an excuse to avoid the horrific networking ‘opportunities’.

Loosely following this advice from Scott Berkun I set about the task as follows –

  • I created a template in Ulysses including all the talk titles, abstracts and speaker names — including links to their Twitter pages before the event.
  • I scribbled notes throughout the talks with a pen and paper — my laptop stayed shut whenever anyone was talking. I am a horribly slow typist and I like to sketch while I take notes though they are pretty rough at best!
  • Whenever something was referenced in a talk I found particularly interesting I annotated my notes with a reminder to Google it.
  • I took a lot of photos of the talks. To be honest I let myself be led by the crowd — when lots of phones went up so did mine 🙂
  • During each break I picked through my hand written notes and typed up the ones that still made sense adding any links to things I had Googled (I think this is actually the most value added part).
  • I then pick a few photos to help illustrate my notes.
  • If I have time I look for any additional supporting content — videos, slide decks, tweets etc that I can add.
  • Then I publish it live (on Medium) each time I update and Tweet it out.

Now I do this primarily for myself and then for my team but doing it in public is potentially helpful for others and I had a few nice comments and picked up some interesting new followers so that is cool.

In the end I probably covered all but 3 of the talks — did something for 2 of those and only completely missed 1. I felt much more engaged with all the sessions than often and didn’t miss any (pretty unheard of).

It was pretty hard work — there were a lot of talks and staying that tuned in throughout left me pretty worn out but it was well worth it. It was a brilliant conference and I feel like I really got the most out of it.

You can read all my notes here and here.