Tips for getting the most out of conferences – an #eltchat summary (14/11/12)

A PLN for ELT Professionals

Tips for getting the most out of conferences – an #eltchat summary (14/11/12)

This summary was contributed by Yitzha Sarwono (@yitzhasarwono) and is published here with her permission (and many thanks!)


Nowadays the need for Personal Development has increased pretty rapidly. And that is why  conferences have become one of the main ways for people who are craving PD to develop themselves. Whether it’s a face to face or via internet, we all have come to realize that they are an important part of our journey.


This #eltchat was moderated by James Taylor (@theteacherjames) and Shaun Wilden (@shaunwilden) and all of the participants have given many great opinions as well as tips.


Look over there – During Steve Muir’s presentation at TESOL France 2012


So, what are some tips when attending a conference to get the most of it?


  • Make a personalize schedules. Do your homework; find out which presenters and talk you’d like to attend as well as the room number and time. Make sure you have all on your hand so it is easy for you to manage your time.
  • Attend at least one plenary session. They are always have something great to offer eventhough often plenaries are too general (sometimes generic) to be useful.
  • Connect! Both to other participants as well as the presenter you’re seeing. Exchange information about yourself (name card, FB account, Twitter handle, etc).
  • Engage. Say hi to the people sitting next to you and then discuss the presentation topic together, take notes and reflect. Thank the presenter after the presentation or better yet see if you can have a little discussion over the topic.
  • Go with colleagues – split up, attend different sessions and share thoughts later.
  • Prepare tools that you can use to make notes. Suggested tools: Evernote
  • Have a balance between work and play. Don’t pack up too many sessions. Get some time to relax and enjoy the environment, blend in with the crowd and have some ‘me’ time. Even a little nap will recharge you.
  • Try not to walk way from any presentation. The best way to do so, is to do a little research on the presentation that you’re going to. Make sure it suits your need.


When you’re presenting, here are some tips:


  • Carry extra handouts, just in case other people you’ve met ask for it, also on google docs or dropbox.
  • Put your blog address, Fb page, or twitter handle on your handouts.
  • Put a link on your blog for people to see your PPT and to download your handouts.
  • Engage and connect with those who attend your session.


Online conferences and webinars are another way for us to develop ourselves. It is a great way to connect and build your PLN as you don’t have to leave the comfort of your own home to attend it. Another great thing about online conference is that the recordings can be a benefit for those who couldn’t attend it full time.


During the discussion, #eltchat participants also recommended some of the conferences to be attended. IATEFL and TESOL France were some of the suggested ones. As for the online ones, Macmillan was highly recommended for its recordings. Many also agree that attending conferences, though far away and often quite expensive are good for self developing.


Some memorable tweets:


@yitzha_sarwono: @Shaunwilden tips no 1: smile! And say ‘hi’ to people you’ve smiled at 🙂 #ELTchat


@antoniaclare: Tip #3 make sure your twitter/facebook profile pic looks like you real life, so people can recognise you #eltchat


@esolcourses: A tip from me:  don’t try to pack too many sessions in at F2F confs – work some downtime in so your brain doesn’t get fried #eltchat


@billpellowe: #eltchat Conference tip: Bring business cards and a card holder. Write to the people you’ve met. Build your PLN.


@cybraryman1: @Shaunwilden Put your blog or site on a QR code on your business card #eltchat


@billpellowe: #eltchat Conference tip: If you presented, carry extra handout copies. People ask for them. Also put copies on DropBox or GoogleDocs.


@OUPELTGlobal: I like to have a few personal objectives before the conference. It helps me choose the talks more easily.  #eltchat


@OUPELTGlobal: Maybe strange coming from me, but I hate talks that are meant to be pedagogical and turn out to be commercial! #eltchat


@billpellowe: #eltchat Conference tip: NEVER start a question with, “Sorry, I missed the beginning so I don’t know if you covered this but…”


@stephenburrows: #eltChat the other good thing about online conference  is you can multi-task without offending anybody. EltChat + an episode of Homeland = no problem


@billpellowe: #eltchat Conference tip: Book hotel early to get room  close  to venue. Afternoon nap. Change before on-site social events. Drop off bag.


@teacherphili: I still think @sandymillin set the standard for tweeting constantly during a talk but then summarising that into a digestable blog #ELTchat


@teacherphili: Yes, @chiasuan is great with her moment by moment tweets too.  Also @sandymillin and @vickyloras #supertweeters 😉 #ELTchat


@antoniaclare: Recordings of webinars and plenaries really good way to catch up on sessions you miss #eltchat


@billpellowe: #eltchat Often plenaries are too general (sometimes generic) to be useful. That said, Ken Wilson gave a great one at JALT 2010 or 2011


@teacherphili: Evernote can synthesise your notes. It is available on nearly all platforms and  uploads to cloud @Sandymillin summary of #ELTchat 14 March


@FrancesEales: @billpellowe #eltchat  A good plenary can be thought-provoking. I usually take away about one or two key points and that’s enough I feel.


@FrancesEales: #eltchat One of the best ways I’ve found to retain key ideas from a conference is to offer to give a TD session to teachers in your school.


@theteacherjames: One of the main benefits of f2f conferences is being able to discuss it with your peers after. Invaluable. #eltchat


@Antoniaclare: Conference tip: Try to remember people’s names. Ask them+look at their badge and try to use their name when talking to them to fix #eltchat


@OUPELTGlobal: Would think that reading a post days later would help me remember and reflect on the session, maybe even add to it … #eltchat


@antoniaclare: Another tip – send a quick email to the people you meet after the conference, to try and continue the conversation (via@chucksandy) #eltchat


@teflerinha: #eltchat And conference providers…please no clip on badges! Don’t work if you don’t have a suit lapel! #eltchat


@yitzha_sarwono: @antoniaclare i took pic with them,exchange name cards,write to them and be friend on fb/follow them on twitter 🙂 #eltchat


@jakenb2: #eltchat Set a goal for yourself for each conf. 1) tools, 2) contacts, 3) issues, 4)URLs, 5)  file as needed, discover serendippity as +


@teflerinha: @David__Boughton #eltchat Online, I think Macmillan are good- and they keep their webinars available online


@antoniaclare: Another tip: don’t be scared to talk to the presenter at the end of their talk, even just to say hello.  We really appreciate it #eltchat


@Shaunwilden #ihtoc was excellent.  I didn’t catch it live, but the recordings are great 😉 #ELTchat


Some ELTchatters at TESOL France 2012 – who can you spot?


Some useful links:


Finding conferences. 

ELT Event Calendar: 

10 Things For Teacher Bloggers To Do Before a Conference by Adam Simpson – 

Simpson in reflective mood: A tale of two conferences (part one)

Simpson still in reflective mood: A tale of two conferences (part two)

A day in the life of an ELT conference presenter

IATEFL issue : The People

Getting started with EVERNOTE

How to use Evernote

My Evernote page: 



So, that’s our chat for this week, hope to see you guys on the next #ELTChat. And let me close this with something James Taylor said:

“I’ll be moving hell and high water, and possibly spending an awfully large amount of my own money, to attend a conference, because it is worth it.”


So, aza aza developing!


Many thanks to Bethany Cagnol for her photos of TESOL France 2012.