The National FutureSchools expo is a massive annual event in education, attracting more than 2,000 attendees. This year the expo takes place in Melbourne from the 22nd-24th of March at the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre. Consisting of 5 parallel conferences, masterclasses and hosting more than 120 speakers, FutureSchools can be a tricky event to navigate. That’s why we have put together this short guide, which highlights three easy steps to help you get the most out of your time at the expo.
Step 1: Plan ahead and familiarise yourself
We admit this may seem like a no-brainer, but preparation really is key to getting the most out of a conference.
First, a great habit to get into while reviewing the agenda is to take a little extra time to research the speakers online. Most notable speakers will have a website or blog, some form of social media presence and perhaps even videos and slidedecks from their previous presentations 1. This is a safe way to work out which sessions will be most valuable to you. Additionally, it is a good opportunity to follow the speakers on social media to keep up-to-date or to ask them any questions.
Beyond the sessions, you will want to know your way around the main expo hall to limit wasted time, and also to know what other activities are on throughout the day. Lunches and morning/afternoon tea are great networking opportunities and provide a stimulating environment for quality conversations, which help break up the day and will make the expo feel less grueling.
If you are bringing friends or co-workers, try and plan with the group. For example, perhaps you can divide and conquer to maximise the takeaway from the expo and conferences? While you are at it, be the hero every group deserves and remind everyone to bring a phone and laptop charger—they will thank you!
Step 2: Get the most out of every session
To make the most out of your time, you need to commit to the sessions that you plan to attend. Here are three tips to keep in mind:
- Get in early and sit right at the front. You will not only become more engaged, but you will also be surrounding yourself with others who want to participate and get the most out of it.
- Don’t take so many notes 4. Make the most of your time there and truly listen to what the speaker has to say. You can usually review their material post-event, which is preferable to trying to decipher pages and pages of scribbled notes, and helps share knowledge with colleagues that weren’t able to attend the event.
- Once the presentation is over, there will be an opportunity to ask questions. The golden rule to remember is that when you are asking a question, you are asking on behalf of everyone in the room 1. Focus on questions that apply to everyone to spark a healthy discussion.
Lastly, as busy educators, your time is valuable. Therefore, if a session ends up not being what you are looking for, don’t be afraid to discreetly leave 1.
Step 3: Spend time on the floor and socialise
Disclaimer: we are not just saying this because we will be exhibiting, although we will be at booth 43 if you would like to come over and say ‘Hi’ – in fact, we would love that.
In all seriousness, exhibitors are most often simply looking to have a pleasant chat or help their customers or prospects so don’t be afraid to approach exhibitors. Who you are chatting with may also come as a surprise, as there is always a potential to come across a company founder, CEO or an industry heavyweight 1.
Lastly, don’t ignore the floor when it’s quiet. It becomes a casual, welcoming environment for conversation and collaboration, and a fantastic spot to relax.
We hope to see you at this year’s event. To learn more about what’s on offer at FutureSchools 2017, check out the agenda.