Maximizing Your HOW Design Live Experience

HDL-BannerHOW Design Live is bigger than ever in 2015 — more than 100 sessions to choose from across six distinct program tracks, more than 3,000 creative pros attending, an exciting Exhibit Hall. It all might seem a bit overwhelming.

Wondering how to get your head around it all? Here are a few tried-and-true tips for making the most out of your conference experience.

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Start with a gameplan. Be strategic about the sessions you choose when you register. Are you an in-house designer looking to build your business knowledge? A print designer who wants to learn packaging design? There are sessions that can introduce you to those skills. Choose sessions that will expand your capabilities and inspire your best work — not just those that look like fun. And remember: If you’re sitting in a session and it’s not doing it for you, you can quietly duck out and head for another.

Capture your experience. You’ll encounter tons of big ideas, new techniques and tips on working with clients and colleagues. Stuff you’ll want to remember. So bring a notebook and/or a sketchbook and a smartphone with a camera. Jot down pithy quotes. Doodle what you see. Think about what you’re learning applies to your work in progress back at the office, and make notes. Take photos of presentation screens with your smartphone camera. Whatever method you choose, be sure to capture ideas and inspiration.

Plug into the creative buzz. In the HOW Design Live conference white paper, “101 Inspiring Ideas for Creative Pros in Design, Marketing & Branding,” speaker Petrula Vrontikis writes, “Creative energy is a current that runs through our lives at all times, like the electricity running through our walls. It’s always present, but only becomes visible when we decide to apply its energy in some way by flipping an ON switch. Unfortunately, the constant urgency of daily life often keeps us from plugging in our creative appliance. Designers need to create a space that allows them to tap into the creative energy that is always flowing, whether they use it or not.”

Manage your energy. Conference days are full of information and inspiration; you’ll feel like you’re drinking from a fire hose. Pay attention to your energy level, and take short breaks to decompress as needed. Pack along energy bars to keep you going between meals. Connect with a small group to head out for lunch or dinner.

Bring a big stack of business cards and plan to give them all away. There’s no better opportunity to connect with people who do what you do than HOW Design Live. Use it to make friends, find a mentor, connect with a fellow in-houser, create a tribe.

Stay in the moment. Yes, five days is a long time to be away from the office. To the extent you can, leave work at work and simply immerse yourself in the HOW atmosphere. Use technology to record and communicate your experience (share via the #HOWLive hashtag on Twitter), but don’t let it interrupt or get in the way.

There’s still time to register for HOW Design Live before the event kicks off at noon on Monday, May 4. Browse the full conference program, choose your sessions and save $100 if you register before May 3. And we’ll see you in Chicago.