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Getting the Most Out of Your #AGBell2014 Convention Experience

June 12th, 2014 by | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

AG Bell Convention 2014 is just two weeks away.  The countdown has begun!  As you begin to pack your suitcases, here are a few tips for how to get the most out of your Convention experience for first-timers and experienced attendees alike.

 

 

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PRE-CONVENTION

  • Set goals.  What are your goals for Convention 2014?  Is there a certain topic about which you want to learn more?  A company or organization you’d like to question in the exhibit hall (for example, parents choosing a CI brand might want to take advantage of the abundance of Advanced Bionics, Cochlear, and MED-EL reps attending)?  A professional connection you’d like to make?  Friendships you’d like to establish (for example, helping your children meet other listening, talking kids with hearing loss in the Children’s Program, or connecting with a successful oral deaf adult who can answer your “real life” questions)?  Think, “When I leave Convention 2014, I want to know…”  Set your goal, and figure out a plan to make it happen!
  • Get connected.  Make sure you’re following @CochlearImplant and @AGBellAssoc on Twitter so you’ll get live updates about Convention sessions and events.
  • Plan ahead.  Look through the concurrent sessions descriptions and make a plan for which you’d like to attend.  This will help you organize your plan of attack.  Is there a learning track that most appeals to you?  That can also help you narrow the field.  Are you attending to get a broad range of knowledge, or do you have specific questions that you want answered by the end of the Convention?  Use your goals to guide you.  If you’re traveling with a group (for example, a spouse or a group from work), I suggest splitting up for sessions.  It may be fun to sit next to someone familiar, but you’ll cover much more ground by splitting up during the day and reconvening and night to debrief about what everyone has learned.
  • Pack smart.  Convention facilities account for large crowds of people by turning the air conditioning on HIGH.  It may be Florida in June, but inside the Convention hall you’ll want a sweater or wrap to keep from shivering.  Some people also avoid wearing sandals to sessions for this reason, too.  You can always change when it’s time to hit the pool!  Other items you might consider bringing:  note taking materials (paper/pen, laptop, iPad), extra electronics batteries or chargers, outlet extenders (competition for outlet space to recharge can be fierce — brining an outlet extender is a great way to make instant Convention friends!), business cards, etc.
  • Get the slides.  Many Convention presentation slides are made available to attendees ahead of time through AG Bell’s website.  Most concurrent sessions will not offer you a hand-out the day of the Convention.  Download the slides or print them off if you prefer to take notes by hand.  This is a great way to preview sessions, too, to see if you’re interested in attending.

AT THE CONVENTION

  • Maximize your time.  It may be tempting to arrive late, sleep in, or skip a session for a little nap by the pool, but don’t cheat yourself out of the awesome experience you’ve purchased.  You never know what you may have learned in that missed session, or on the very first session on Friday or the very last session Sunday at the bitter end.  Stick it out.  You can sleep when you get home!
  • Use breaks wisely.  The Convention is scheduled with generous passing periods in between concurrent sessions and breaks in the Convention day.  Plan ahead and use this time to make “appointments” to meet up with friends and colleagues.  Who you have lunch with or who catches a coffee with you in the afternoon could add substantially to your Convention experience.  Lunch isn’t wasted time if you spend it connecting with new and old friends, or making professional connections, or chatting with an expert in the field.
  • Speak up.  Conventions offer an unparalleled opportunity to interact with some of the leaders in the field of listening and spoken language.  Most sessions end with, “Any questions?”  Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask questions to find out what you want to know.
  • Reach out.  Don’t be shy!  Introduce yourself to seat mates, people on the elevator, people in the lobby.  Everyone will be wearing Convention lanyards and badges, so don’t be afraid to make a new friend.  I’ve met some fascinating people at Conventions over the years, and I’m always impressed with the openness and friendliness of fellow AG Bell members.  Everyone is here for the same common purpose, and you never know if a chance encounter will lead to a lifelong friendship!  Make sure you share your business cards or other contact information.

 

AFTER THE CONVENTION

  • Stay connected.  Most presenters include their email addresses at the end of their slides.  If you think of additional questions or want to thank them for a great presentation, send an email!  Kind words are always appreciated.  Stay in touch with your new friends, too.  These personal and professional connections can last a lifetime.
  • Learn more.  What did you learn at the Convention?  What questions did the sessions spark in your mind?  Set personal learning goals for yourself in how you will improve your practice in the months to come.  Don’t let the learning stop when you leave Orlando!
  • Read up.  Stay tuned to AG Bell’s various publications, like the Volta Voices magazine, LSL Leading Edge, and email blasts for articles recapping the Convention.
  • Start saving.  Are you ready for Convention 2016?  See you there!

 

Written by

Elizabeth Rosenzweig MS CCC-SLP LSLS Cert. AVT is a Listening and Spoken Language Specialist Certified Auditory Verbal Therapist. She provides auditory verbal therapy, aural rehabilitation, IEP advocacy, consultation, and LSLS mentoring for clients around the world via teletherapy. You can learn more about Elizabeth's services on her Website or Facebook.

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