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Last year, some colleagues and I took part in the CHI2016 conference, in San Jose, CA. It was my first time at CHI and I found the experience useful and enjoyable. Retrospectively, we managed to make a few moves that I believe helped us achieving that. So, I put together this rundown of learnings, for all those visiting this year in Denver:
1. Arriving early to eliminate jetlag and get more out of the first day.
We landed in San Francisco the weekend before the conference started. It helped us adjust to the time zone and prepare for the first conference day. When the conference started, we were ready to go.
2. Picking up the badge a day before spares from queuing.
The day before the conference started, there were no lines. On Monday, when it all began, we walked straight into the opening ceremony.
3. Getting familiar with the program and making plans.
There’s a huge amount of sessions to choose from and very little time in between them. Planning helped us get more out of the conference: Choosing the sessions you want to check out before each day increases your chances of making it to all the best ones. And, it gives you a chance to reflect on the previous day’s experiences.
4. A heavy breakfast pays off.
Lunch breaks are fairly late, so having a large breakfast kept us energized until more food was available. Luckily, the snacks during coffee breaks were nice and healthy.
5. The opening party on the first day is great for meeting people!
At the end of the first day, we had fun mingling with acquaintances and meeting new people. The exhibition in the same space was enjoyable, too.
6. Case studies satisfy the desire for practicality.
Real life examples in the form of case studies provided balance and grounding, compared to the scientific presentations. Some of the courses even offered hands-on practices.
7. Early registration for courses is a smart move.
The most popular courses were full. So, if it’s really interesting, you should register early.
8. It’s useful to split up, go to different sessions and share information.
Since there were five of us, we saw more and got more insight than we could have alone, by splitting up and sharing learnings. Summarizing to colleagues right after sessions also helped digest the information.
What else? Let us know in the comments what made your CHI experience better!
Hope to see you in CHI2017!