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The Teaching Space Podcast

The podcast is on pause for a year (as of August 2021) as I am tackling the final year of my masters in education (which I am doing alongside my full-time job). In the meantime, please revisit the considerable back catalogue of episodes. Also, give me a follow on Twitter, where I am still very active and sign up for my personal newsletter here. You can visit The Teaching Space website here:

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Feb 16, 2018

Episode 10 of The Teaching Space Podcast shares 10 things you must do before, during and after an education conference.

Podcast Episode 10 Transcript


Hello and welcome to episode ten of the Teaching Space Podcast. It's Martine here. In today's episode, I want to share with you ten things you must do before, during and after attending an education conference.

Bett Show 2018

These ten things are based on recent experience. In January, I attended the Bett Show, which takes place in London. And it's a large education technology show at the ExCel Centre.

Now, I'm based in Guernsey, so the reality of attending a show at the ExCel Centre looks something like this:

The Journey

I take the red-eye flight, which is the seven a.m. flight from Guernsey to London Gatwick. We used to be able to fly directly to London City, which was a lot more convenient if you know London geography, but alas, that's not possible anymore. So I'm on the red-eye flight at seven a.m. I like to be at the airport an hour before, so I'm there at six a.m., which means I'm up at around five a.m., so that's not a great start to a travel day now really, is it?

The flight thankfully got off on time, around seven a.m., so I got into London sometime after 8. By the time I got to the ExCel Centre, it was probably about half-past ten.

This experience of travelling to London and going to Bett, made me start thinking about what I need to do slightly better when I go again.

I have been to Bett a couple of times, but normally I go overnight. And on this occasion, I went for the day, so I was in on the first flight and out on the last flight, which must have been half seven, eight o'clock in the evening, maybe even a bit later actually.

Next Year's Plan

Next year I will definitely do an overnight stay, because going for a day, including my travel, just simply wasn't enough.

The substance of this podcast really is the things I'm going do better next time, so ten things that I believe you should do in preparation for an education conference (and also a few things to do during and after). So here we go.

1. Make a Plan

Look at who's going to be at the event you're going to and plan out your day or days. The Bett Show is brilliant because they have an app, which you can download, and you can favourite any of the stands or speakers that you want to see. So make a plan. And make a plan in advance of your trip. Don't do it on the flight or on the train.

2. Pre-Arrange Meetings

While you're planning, arrange meetings, put them on your calendar. Now, this was a mistake I made for Bett; I arranged my meetings while I was there via Twitter direct message. The wifi at the Bett Show was appalling, so I ended up missing a couple of meeting, which I was really disappointed about. Arrange any meetings in advance, pop them in your calendar.

3. Pack All the Things

When you're packing for the event, include your phone charger. If like me you are going to somewhere international (to me, the UK is international) you might need a data SIM card for internet. 

At Bett, I was totally reliant on wifi, and the connection was terrible. It was the reason that I missed several meetings. Also, I wanted a live stream while I was there and I was unable to do that. I did it once or twice, but it was pretty poor, so if you need to take a sort of spare SIM card, or you know a battery pack or whatever it is you need to enable you to be digitally connected the whole time, make sure you pack that.

And if you're gonna rock it old school: take some business cards too.

4. Get Social

Is there a hashtag? Can you follow people who are going to be exhibiting at the event? Get some conversation going on social media, and you will have a richer experience at your event.

5. Target Yourself to Connect

As part of your planning, target yourself with people that you want to connect with. This is a special shout out really for the introverts out there attending these type of events. When it comes to this sort of thing, I'm quite introverted, and I find the hugeness and the noise of an event like the Bett Show quite overwhelming. So this time I made a real point of targeting myself to visit certain stands and speak to certain people. And I achieved some of those targets. Not all of them, but I achieved some, so I recommend as number five you target yourself with certain things to do and certain people to see.

6. Get a Good Night's Sleep

Get a good night's sleep before the event. These events are exhausting, especially if you have to do a great deal of travel to attend, so get a good night's sleep.

Now we're talking about on the day.

7. Wear Comfortable Shoes and Clothes

This is kind of a no-brainer, but I felt I had to put it on here: wear comfortable shoes and clothes. While I was walking around the Bett Show, I saw a lady who was wearing, I swear, five-inch heels and I was just like "How on earth can you be walking around wearing those shoes?" I have a pedometer on my watch, and I did close to 17,000 steps on that day. How could you do that in five-inch heels? Crazy stuff.

8. A 30-Minute Orientation 

When you arrive at the show, and this is number eight, when you arrive at the show, give yourself a good half an hour or so just to get familiar with your surroundings. Finding a map is a good idea at this point as well, and comparing the map with your list of places you want to go and people you want to see. Do that within your first half an hour and adjust to where you are.

9. Eat Lunch at an Odd Time

Number nine, this is going to sound like a really strange one, but go with me, eat lunch at a really odd time. Ideally, take snacks with you, so you can eat lunch late. And the reason I say this is at the Bett Show, the ExCel Centre was heaving.

It was so busy, that it took me three-quarters of an hour to queue for a salad and that was around one o'clock. Now had I gone at 11 or half two, three o'clock, I think I would have been fine, but given that I had so little time there, that three-quarters of an hour that I spent queuing for my lunch, could have been spent doing far more interesting things.

10. Follow Up

And finally, number ten, follow up any interesting conversations or meetings that you had while you were at the event. Give it a couple of days and then put an email in and carry the conversation on.

This is something that I did post-Bett. I was trying to arrange a meeting while I was there on Twitter, thank you terrible wifi for ruining that, but I wanted to meet with an event organiser who does a variety of summits for Google. I was quite keen to try to get involved with this company and hopefully find a way to do some work with them.

While I missed the meeting thanks to the terrible wifi and arranging it via Twitter, I followed up afterwards, and I'm really excited to say I am going to be speaking at the London Google Summit in March.

So follow up any opportunities that crop up at the event that you're attending. I did that and something really exciting has come of it.

Wrap Up

So those are my top ten tips for things you should do in preparation for and while attending and indeed after attending an education conference. Of course, this goes for any type of conference that you're going to attend, but as my listeners are mainly teachers and people working in education, I focused on education conferences.

I hope this has been useful.

As I mentioned, Bett is an educational technology conference, and if ed tech is something of interest to you, then please check out my email course 30 EdTech Tools in 30 Days.

Okay, that's all from me today, thank you so much for listening, and I hope you'll join me for episode 11.