This is a great post from the PC Training Girl in preparation for the ASTD International Conference in Orlando next week. Take heed. Also don’t forget the ASTD Tweetup that will also be held on Monday, May 23. It will be held at Bahama Breeze and is a come as you are, BYOB event icon wink Preparation for #ASTD2011 and the #ASTDtweetup

If you haven’t done so already RSVP here and follow the #ASTDtweetup and #ASTD2011 twitter stream!

Getting Ready for ASTD 2011 ICE!

I’m getting ready to attend my first ASTD International Conference! Very excited to head to Florida for a pre-conference session and the event itself. We’re looking at 8 to 10k people from all over the world descending on Orlando for 4 days! It’s going to be a crazy week.

There is so much going on at this conference, it requires some serious preparation beforehand. So I’ve compiled a list of practical things a first-time attendee might want to know. Some of this is advice from veteran attendees, and some I’ve discovered along the way. I’m sure I’ll have more advice to share when I get back, but here’s some to start with this year…

Dress Code

Business casual – save the shorts and flip-flops for after hours. Bring a sweater because the convention center can be chilly. Wear comfortable shoes because the Expo is huge and there will be a bit of walking to get to your sessions.

Conference Credentials and Tickets

By now you should have received an envelope in the mail including your Expo card, your Exchange card which allows you to pick up your badge and materials, and tickets for drawing, ice cream social, etc… If you haven’t received this yet, contact the organizers immediately! DO NOT forget to bring this packet with you!!!

Orlando Convention Center

Take a minute to look through the attendee services at the convention center. It talks about access to Wi-Fi and cellular service, the business center, bag and coat check, and the TSA approved Remote Airline check-in. You can check your bags here on Wednesday so you don’t have to lug them around the conference or leave them at the hotel desk!


Make time in your schedule to browse the hundreds of exhibitors at the Expo. The materials say “Use this Expo Card to quickly transfer information to Exhibitors”, but it’s not clear if the card will also allow you to enter the contests at the exhibitor tables. You may want to bring business cards to hand out to people, but print off contact info on plain paper to submit for contests and drawings. This saves you the time of filling out drawing slips for every table. If I find out any further information on this one, I’ll update this post.

I’m curious about the Poken from Carlson at booth #2028. I’m not sure if it’s going to be cutesy or a truly valuable way to pass out your contact info. Either way, you can set up a profile ahead of time so that your Poken will be ready to go at the conference.

There is a plethora of really good giveaways and contests. You know that mountain of advertising cards you’ve received in the past few weeks? Read them before you toss them. Some of them tell you to bring the card to the booth to enter the contest or get the giveaway. They may allow you to enter anyway, but why take a chance?

Go to the Exhibitor List on the Expo website and add each exhibitor you want to visit to your Expo plan. Adding them to your Plan also highlights them on the Expo Floor plan!  Then you can print the floor plan and bring it with you, checking off the highlighted exhibitors as you visit them.

Conference Sessions

I think that every session is going to be great, so choosing your sessions is more about the topics you’re dealing with in your work right now and your level of knowledge and skill within those topics. So rather than recommend specific topics that may or may not apply to you, I’m going to write about a method for narrowing down your list.

First, go through the list of sessions and add to your schedule every single session that you are interested in based on the title and the description. Don’t worry about the session time, or duplicate sessions. Just add them to the schedule. I did this part on the Android conference app, and it was very easy!

Now you’re going to look at session times where you have more than one session selected. For me, that was every single time slot!  Many of the presenters have posted the handouts for their sessions on the conference website.Reviewing the handouts will give you an idea of the content the presenter will cover and might help you to prioritize the sessions for each time slot.

You can find the handouts when you click Education>Search sessions on the conference website. Hint: Don’t put any criteria into the search and all of the sessions will come up. Now, click on a session title and a pop-up box will appear. If the presenter submitted a handout, you will see a link at the bottom of the box. I won’t pretend that reviewing the handout could ever replace attending the session, but we’re just using it to get an idea of the actual content so we can pick the session that is most aligned with our learning needs.

Several veteran attendees have recommended that you keep at least two sessions on your list for each time slot. One may be full, or you might be in a session and find it’s not quite what you thought. Don’t just sit there, veteran attendees assure me that it’s OK to get up and go to a different session.

Just as I was starting to think about how I’ll organize my time once I get to the conference, this fabulous article by Kevin Eikenberry came across my Twitter feed. Give it a read for great advice on making effective use of your ICE experience.


Don’t think that your ASTD 2011 ICE experience is over when the scheduled sessions are done for the day! There are events happening after hours, sponsored by local ASTD chapters, exhibitors, and other organizations. A list of these events would be handy, but so far I haven’t found any such thing!  Look at the marketing materials you received in the mail, the Show Specials listed on the website, and there are several events mentioned in this thread in the ASTD Group on Linked In.

If you are attending for the first time, you should have received an email inviting you to join the mentoring subgroup of ASTD National on Linked In. This is a way to connect with someone who has attended before and can show you the ropes.

I’ve also got a lot of great information from the ASTD Twitter feed. You can view a scrolling list of tweets on the conference site, or create your own Twitter account and do a search on the tag #ASTD2011.

If I find anymore great tips this week, I’ll update this post. If you have a good tip you’d like to share, please submit a comment! See you all at #ASTD2011!

Thanks to everyone who gave great advice:

Jennifer T, Anders K., Linda D., @TOPYX, Keri W., Robin S.



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