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Learning Technologies 2023 Survival Guide: How to get the most from the conference

When people ask if a conference was good, we almost feel obligated to say yes… Why? Because we’ve taken time out of our day, probably spent a fair few quid getting there and had countless opportunities for talks, networking and mingling.

Nobody wants to tell their colleagues it was actually a bit rubbish and a waste of those precious resources. With an event as amazing as Learning Technologies, it’s unlikely that would happen anyway!

But there’s a foolproof way to protect yourself for this year’s conference. And it’s to make sure you get the most out of it – not by sprinting between talks to attend as many as you can or scrambling for enough business cards to cover the ExCel’s floor.

Nope, the secret to a great event is preparing a game plan, to work smarter not harder! And with 9,000 visitors and 200 exhibitors from 50 countries, it’s easy to get overwhelmed, lost in the chaos or find yourself so busy that you curl up in a quiet corner.

So this isn’t really your #LT23 survival guide. It’s everything you need to succeed at Learning Technologies 2023.

Jump to:

The logistics: When and where is it, how do I get there, and how do I get tickets

Where: ExCel London.

When: Tuesday and Wednesday, 3-4 May 2023.

How can I attend? You’ve got two options:

  • Free visitor pass: Gives you access to the two-day event, plus all the technology suppliers, free seminars and live demonstrations.
  • Learning Technologies Conference Pass: “Registration includes full access to both days of the exhibition, all streams and theatres – as well as networking lunch & drinks!”. There are two pricing levels for delegate passes: Standard (£1,295 + VAT) and Premium (£1,495 + VAT).

Which ticket should I go for?

Your best bet is to check out both the conference lineup (available to paid attendees only) and the free exheibition/seminar timetable before making a decision.

What time is it on?

Registration opens at 8 AM on both days, with the introduction taking place at 9.15 AM. Speakers start at 9:30 AM on the paid conference lineup, with free seminars kicking off at 10:15 AM.

With either ticket, you won’t find seminars or talks happening after 5 PM, although networking is scheduled on the agenda from that time onwards.

How do I get there? 

If you’re flying to London City Airport, ExCel London is a 25-minute walk away. If you’re arriving at any other airport or travelling by train, it’s worth familiarising yourself with the options below.

Prince Regent and Custom House DLR stations are seven and 11-minute walks from the exhibition venue, respectively, while Canning Town Station (served by both the DLR and Jubilee Line) is a 24-minute stroll from ExCel London.

Where can I stay?

If you’re looking for a place to stay, you’re in luck! ExCel London is served by a number of recognisable hotel brands, all within walking distance. Ibis, IHG, Marriot, Holiday Inn and even the luxury Sunborn Hotel located on a yacht, there’s plenty of choice. Here’s a link that’ll help you find hotels, prices and availability.

Preparing for the day(s): Planning, purpose and mindset

The fail to plan, plan to fail motto has never been more true than it is for events. But it’s more than the superficial packing of bags and picking out a few talks that most guides would have you think! Yes, those things matter, but you have to approach them with the right mindset too.

Here’s how you can achieve A-star planning before that registration desk opens on day one.

Set goals: Know what you want to get out of the conference

Events are like restaurant buffets – you’ve got so much to choose from, but if you’re not tactical about it then you’ll end up disappointed.

Are we networking? Looking for new tech providers? Attending talks so we can learn from the best in the business? Filling a holdall with freebies?

It’s easy and tempting to try all four, only to swing and miss on every single one. That’s why goal setting is a key pre-event ritual: Why are you attending? What would success look like? Are there any metrics and methods for you to quantify that?

If it’s networking, for example, you might aim to set up five relevant calls for the weeks after the event. If you’ve been sent to find a learning solution, maybe it’s some kind of demo target. Or maybe you want to learn all about L&D in our digital-first world, so you set a goal of five talks on this topic. 

Go in-depth on a topic, rather than spreading yourself thin

Don’t be seduced by sexy talk titles, it’s the content of the seminar that’ll add value. For example, you might be intrigued by ‘How Company X Used Learning Tech To Increase Subscriptions By 400%’.

But what if Company X is the chalk to your company’s cheese in size and sector? And you’re running a B2B business that’s so far detached from a subscription model it might as well be on the Moon. The value you’ll get from that talk is likely to be low.

That’s why you need to think topics, not titles.

What’s the biggest problem you’re facing now? Or your biggest knowledge gap? Work out how can you plan your schedule to learn as much about that as possible and show a meaningful return on your investment.

It’s tempting to attend talks on five or six different subjects, but is that going to help you apply learning to your role or challenges? Will your brain end up flicking between these trains of thought without stopping at any particular station to digest and understand what you just heard?

Get familiar with the schedule and floor plan

Once you’ve picked that topic or two topics, it’ll be time to build your event day schedule. Here are a few simple tips and tricks:

  • Schedule in breaks: If you’re in back-to-back talks from start to finish, you won’t have time to process what you’ve just heard or give your brain the break it needs. The forgetting curve is very real on event days, and you’ll make it worse if you don’t create windows to process and decompress.
  • Remember that less can be more: It can be tempting to cram in another talk or part of one where gaps open up, but attending more seminars doesn’t mean you’ll learn more. Keep that in mind as you plan those two event days.
  • Know the floor plan: If you’re rushing to a talk or can’t find it, you’ll turn up late and flustered – which simply doesn’t help you concentrate or engage with the speaker. Understanding where your preferred talks are ahead of time means you arrive smoothly and calmly.
  • Set an arrival time: Work out what you want to do before the first talk on your list. If you’re aiming to secure refreshments, use the loo or have a nose round the stands, factor that into the plan.

Network before the event

If you were to tell us you knew who everyone in your LinkedIn network was, we’d be highly sceptical! LT23 is a good opportunity to reconnect or re-establish relationships with relevant people in your network.

Put out some posts, ask who else is going to be there and see if there’s anybody you’d love to meet in the flesh! It might mean that you can take a two-pronged networking approach: speaking to existing connections throughout the day and making new ones in the evening.

Dress comfortably

It’s Learning Technologies London, not London Fashion Week! Find the balance between dressing to impress and dressing so not you’re feeling stressed. If you’re smart casual, you’ll feel more comfortable and confident, which is smart and casual in itself – the perfect approach for the event.

Pack your bags

What are your must-haves for the day? Make a list and fill your bag with those ahead of time. Chargers and power banks for any tech, water bottles, business cards, note-taking materials, something to wear if any of the halls feel a little chilly…

Whatever’s going to improve your experience, get that in the bag and see if there’s space for the nice-to-haves.

Prepare your post-event schedule

Think about your goals, which post-event actions are needed to ensure they have the desired impact? If you’re attending on behalf of your team, how and when are you going to present your findings and learnings from the event?

Have you set aside time to put what you’ve learnt into practice while it’s fresh in mind? Is your calendar clear enough that you can build on the momentum of any meeting, demo or networking opportunities that presented themselves over the two days?

This will also influence how you’re capturing information across the event. Are you booking meetings there and then? Will you download recording and transcribing software for talks? These are the types of questions you’ll have to ask.

Where we’ll be (come and say hello!)

We’re so excited for the return of in-person events! And that’s because we want to meet as many of you as possible 😊.

So pop along and have a chat to team HowNow, Hall: S1-S7, D20.

It’s a packed schedule this year! So be sure to bookmark the following sessions where you can hear from the team at HowNo, at the following talks and times:

🎤 How would Elon Musk create an L&D strategy?
🗣 Nelson Sivalingam
📅 Wednesday, 3 May 2023 | 10:40 – 10:55
📍 Bitesize Learning Zone 1

🎤 How To Build An L&D Business Case That Gets Buy-In And Delivers Business Outcomes.
🗣 Jack Burge and Grace Harvey.
📅 Wednesday, 3 May 2023 | 16:15 – 16:45
📍 Seminar Theatre 1

🎤 The LMS Is Dead: How To Stop Wasting Money On Learning Tech That Doesn’t Work
🗣 Nelson Sivalingam
📅 Thursday, 4 May 2023 | 14:00 – 14:30
📍 Seminar Theatre 1

🎤 How to build a business case for L&D in an economic downturn?
🗣 Chris Chesterman
📅 Thursday, 4 May 2023 | 16:30 – 16:45
📍 Bitesize Learning Zone 1