There are a few things that are guarantees at ASAE’s 2013 Annual Meeting. One of those is business cards. The other is notes. Lots and lots and lots of notes. All those notes are a good thing, though! They assure that you get the most out of your registration fee and that you absorb as much as you can from the awesome and qualified speakers. But unless you just got out of college you probably aren’t a note taking expert. In fact, many college students struggle with taking effective notes. This conference is a particularly tricky one, since many people will be using mobile devices and pens and paper, while important to remember in case batteries run out, aren’t the cool thing anymore.
There are still ways to take great notes, though, even in this paperless modern age. Here’s how.
1) Hear something important? Tweet it. Later you can go back and read your own tweets, remind yourself of the hash tags for your sessions, and compare tweets with other attendees. If you think of your twitter as a live, interactive notebook you’re likely to be engaged and connected. However please don’t forget that your tweets are open to everyone following the hash tag, and some harsher criticism should probably be left off such a public forum.
2) The ASAE app for iPad has a really cool note-taking feature. When you set your schedule on the app and on the bottom “My Sessions” tab, columns appear with an updating twitter feed for both the entire meeting and the individual session, a description of the session with the time, place, and speaker, and a column for notes. This app is a great resource for session-goers!
3) If you’re not technologically inclined, never fear! You’re not alone, and you certainly don’t need a smart phone or tablet to get the most out of the awesome learning experiences at ASAE 2013. Make sure you have one centralized location for your notes. For example, carry one notebook, commit to writing in the extra pages of your guide book, in the margins, whatever works for you. Try not to have notes in a million different places- that practice is an organizational disaster just waiting to happen.
4) Think about what you want to learn before you go in. If you have some prep time in your travel, it would be a great idea to read through session descriptions and make some preliminary notes of questions you’d like addressed or you can ask if they’re not answered.
5) Have a separate list for more in depth goals. If you want to generate a list of blog topics, for example, make sure you have one centralized place you’re jotting those down. You can sift through them later, just make sure they’re all together, all highlighted or written in one color, or somehow clearly noted as an important take-away.
6) Note important stuff and great ideas. Even though it’ll feel like a light bulb went off at the time, there will be so much to take in at ASAE you will probably forget that great idea. Circle big stuff, highlight, star, underline… just find a uniform system to set big ideas apart from simple noteworthy items. You will have a lot of those big ideas, so be prepared.
Looking at the schedule right now, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Don’t be. There will be plenty of time and lots of people to truly solidify what you learned. Everyone there wants to talk new ideas and associations! Don’t be afraid to chat and “compare notes” both physically and figuratively. You’d be surprised how well your notes pay off, and how easily connections are made!