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I've been to so many innovation conferences over the years; some good ones, some stinkers. The good ones are packed with hugely valuable information; so many new ways of looking at the subject, but those ideas tend to slip away after the conference ends. So a while back I started making consistent notes for every event I attend, it's super simple, and just adds an extra meta-level above the notes I'm already taking.

download the cheat sheet PDF

Here's how it works

Before the conference starts, make a list of the top objectives you want to achieve by the end. It's always helpful if you have some goals in mind, such as:

  • Connect with two people who can help me solve my 'ROI problem'.
  • Learn how to build senior management buy-in.
  • Get an in-depth walkthrough of the HYPE product roadmap.
  • Find peers that work in the same industry to me.

Particularly for a HYPE event, it also makes sense to ask HYPE for recommendations on who to connect with at the event. Is there anybody you want to talk to (Fabian Schlage at Nokia is a good recommendation!)? HYPE folks can make sure those connections happen. (Also worth looking at Jeske Eenink's advice on surviving the HYPE Forums).

Then while at the event I add short sentences or keywords in the 'Best Ideas' box. Sometimes it will be methodologies or frameworks people have mentioned (Three Horizons, Ten Types by Doblin Group, etc). Or it might be a reminder of a story which was partciuarly powerful, or a killer question. It's sometimes just that one or two tips and tricks you get that make a conference valuable to the day-job.

I keep a space for important contacts, the people who I need to follow-up with. You can always exchange business cards and do LinkedIn, but I like to note down the people that I must reach out to as soon as I get back to the office.

Next actions

At the bottom I add any actions to follow-up on, such as:
  • Get the slides from a particular talk.
  • Buy a book somebody mentioned.
  • Call the HYPE contact that offered to discuss my ROI problem in detail.

Finally, a quick reminder of whether it was an event to attend again or not. That's useful later!

On the otherside I make a list of every talk I attend, and write a one-line summary of it. It's quite a challenge to do that sometimes, so the task itself helps me to pay attention.

It's one piece of paper, which you can fold up and walk around with. But adds a little extra to the mindset.

Open the one page PDF here

What's your tip for getting the most out of an event?

This blog is part of a series regarding the HYPE Innovation Managers Forum 2016.


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Tim Woods

Tim Woods

During his career, which also included a longer stay at HYPE, Tim has been working in the product development as in the marketing sector. With a background in software development, Tim has worked in