Sunday, January 3, 2016

IPL Conference 2015 - My big takeaways

Well, this post is LONG overdue. I attended the 2015 Institute for Performance and Learning conference here in Toronto way back in November, but the last month and a half kind of got away from me. A bit late is better than nothing, right?

Rather than try and blog about every single thing I saw individually, I thought I'd instead do something a bit different this time: a summary post about the best parts of the conference that have stuck with me even a month and a half later.

Nir Eyal's Keynote
Eyal's talk on how habits are built (and how to influence people's habit building) was delightful AND insightful. It pretty much hit all my buttons for a great keynote at a L&D conference: technically out of our field but on a topic strongly connected to what we do, a great balance of enough information to understand the topic but not so much that it felt like an infodump, excellent storytelling, a good sense of humour, and well-designed slides. I would definitely want to see him give a talk again if I had the opportunity. He also completely convinced me that I need to buy his book, so I suppose that's a win for both of us.

Sad you couldn't see the keynote yourself? Well, this video seems to have the same talk filmed at another event, so that's a pretty decent option for you. Also, hooray for YouTube!

Trend: Lego slides
Yeah... I've seen slides that use Lego before, but never so many used so well all at the same conference. This is a trend I feel I can totally stand behind (well, at least while people keep using them smartly). At some point it's going to become overdone (and poorly done), but for now I'm just going to keep enjoying it.

Gotta love this!
Trying to attend a conference while sick is the worst
I've gotten Con Plague after a conference, but never before it. To say attending a con while sick is a challenge is a massive understatement (as was trying to desperately keep from infecting others... sadly, no conference hugs and handshakes for me). Thankfully, my body at least picked a hometown conference to feel horrid at, so there's one small win there, right? That said, there were more than a few events I ended up needing to skip, which wasn't ideal for my first time attending this particular conference.

FINALLY getting to see certain speakers
I've had some pretty crummy scheduling luck with certain L&D speakers. For some reason there have always been a few people I either always end up having my sessions scheduled at the same time as (Hi JD!) or other people that always have their talks opposite of six other things I need to see in that time slot. I guess to make up for me being pathetically ill, the universe decided to do me a solid this time around and I got to see two people talk that I usually never get to see: Jane Bozarth and Aaron Silvers. No surprise, they were both fun and engaging speakers, so that was a big win as far as I'm concerned.

Hallway meetings
As I go to more and more conferences, the thing that's becoming the most valuable to me is simply the conversations I have with other attendees. Actually getting to meet Twitter buddies in MeatSpace (AKA: the real world), making connections with new people, and chatting with all of them about what they're doing is what tends to stick with me the most weeks later. Plus, it's just plain fun.

So, no surprise, this was definitely my favorite part about the IPL conference. While I always love catching up with everybody, this particular location gave me a chance to chat with a ton of Canadian L&D folks. You'd think that since I live in the same country as them I'd see them in real life more often... yeah... that's sadly not how it turns out. And sometimes we don't all go to the same conferences in the US either. So attending IPL became an amazing opportunity to connect with people I don't regularly get to see. That was a nice surprise I hadn't considered.

So those were my thoughts about my very first IPL conference. If you attend or followed the backchannel and have some of your own reflections, pop them down in the comments below!

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