Attending a conference can be an incredibly enriching experience, but with a multitude of sessions to choose from, how do you pick the best ones for you? Whether you’re attending the ACUHO-I annual conference or one of the annual conferences of its associated regions (NEACUHO, MACUHO, SEAHO, GLACUHO, UMR-ACUHO, SWACUHO, AIMHO, NWACUHO, and WACUHO), the conference schedules can get a little overwhelming. Selecting sessions that align with your interests and goals and examining their content and presenters can help you select the best sessions. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the importance of choosing the right conference sessions and provide you with some practical tips!
Define Your Objectives:
Before diving into the conference program, take a moment to define your objectives. Consider what you hope to achieve by attending the conference. Sometimes reviewing the conference schedule itself can help you clarify what your objectives may be. Are you looking to gain new knowledge, develop specific skills, network with industry professionals, or explore emerging trends? Clearly defining your objectives will help you prioritize sessions that align with your goals.
Study Session Descriptions:
Carefully read through the session descriptions provided in the conference program. Look for keywords and phrases that resonate with your interests and objectives. Many ACUHO program schedules, specially the ACUHO-I National Conference app, allow you to sort programs by competency, focal area, or intended audience. Consider the relevance of the session to your current role, projects, or areas of interest. Don’t rely on the description alone, however. Also consider the presenters and the session format…
Research the Speakers:
The speakers can significantly impact the quality and value of a session. Presenters matter. Even if the session description sounds interesting, a bad presenter can leave you wishing you made a different choice. Take the time to research the speakers’ backgrounds, expertise, and professional achievements. Look for their online presence, such as their LinkedIn profiles, websites, or published articles. This research will give you insights into their knowledge and credibility, helping you gauge the potential value of their sessions. Reach out to colleagues, mentors, or industry peers who have attended similar conferences in the past. Seek their recommendations based on their experiences.
Consider Session Formats:
Conferences often offer a variety of session formats, including keynote speeches, panel discussions, workshops, and interactive sessions. Consider your preferred learning style and select sessions that cater to it. If you enjoy interactive discussions, opt for sessions that encourage audience participation. If you prefer in-depth learning, choose workshops that offer practical exercises and case studies.
Plan a Balanced Schedule:
Many ACUHO conferences utilize an app to publish the schedule. Take some time before the conference to go in and “star” all the sessions you’re most interested in. After an initial selection, you can review your choices and make decisions about which sessions you want to attend to avoid overlapping time blocks and overloading your schedule with back-to-back sessions. Remember to allow time for breaks, networking, and reflection. Select sessions that cover a range of topics, ensuring a well-rounded conference experience. Balance sessions that align with your current expertise and those that introduce you to new ideas or areas of interest.
Be Open to Unexpected Choices:
While it’s essential to plan your conference schedule thoughtfully, also be open to unexpected choices. Sometimes, the most transformative sessions can come from unexpected sources. Allow room for serendipity and be open to attending sessions outside your comfort zone. You never know what valuable insights or connections may arise from these serendipitous experiences.