February 11, 2014

Laptops at a Conference: Yes or No

So here’s a question that at first may seem to only have one logical answer:

Should you bring your laptop to blogging conferences?

I know. These are blogging and social media conferences, so isn’t the whole point to be as connected to technology as possible while at the conference? I have to admit, it’s a surreal site to see so many with their power cords, laptops, cell phones, digital camera, and other tech gadgets all in one room. Makes you wonder for a second if you’ve walked into the world’s largest Best Buy!

Some obvious benefits to bringing your computer with you are:

  • The constant connection to your readers throughout the conference
  • Live-tweeting during sessions
  • Writing blog posts right then and there
  • Chatting with other attendees via Twitter during the conference & sessions

Some negatives to bringing your computer with you:

  • Lugging around a heavy, bulky laptop (good time to use your netbook or cute laptop messenger bag or backpack* to distribute the weight!)
  • The need to bring all of the peripheral items, such as power strips* and extra power cords/batteries
  • Worrying about the whereabouts of your laptop should you accidentally leave it somewhere (it’s happened!)

But at every conference, there are some who choose to come without their laptops. So what are the benefits of NOT bringing laptops to the conference, or at least, not using it during conference sessions? Here’s what some folks on Twitter had to say on the subject:

@IlinaP: I actually connected w/ people I wanted to meet & I paid more attention in sessions. Eye contact is a wonderful thing.

@ToothWhale: I probably was more present and a better listener than I would have been with access to, say, Twitter, at conferences.

@AlliWorthington: I never bring a laptop to conf. sessions. I like to be in the moment. #BlissDomCanada #BlissDom

@CuponeandoLive: I think we can pay more attn to speakers and make friends with other bloggers that do have a computer

Based on these responses, there definitely is a clear benefit to not bringing your computer to conferences, or at least, not to the sessions.

Reasons to use the good ole paper-and-pen method of note-taking:

  • Worrying less about sharing information with your readers and focusing more on letting the information soak in for your benefit
  • Listening better since you’re not multi-tasking as much
  • Being present – really taking in the entire experience

Even if you bring your laptop with you to the conference, don’t feel obligated to bring it to sessions. Many attendees start by bringing it to session, but by halfway through the first day, opt to leave it in their hotel rooms due to the hassle (and pain!) of dragging it all over the conference grounds.

You can also opt to use your cell phone or other mini-technological devices to stay connected to the online world, which then allows you to have your foot in both worlds: handwritten notes and access to Twitter should you want to tweet occasionally.

Whatever your choice, there’s no right or wrong when it comes to technology at blog and social media conferences. Know that you’ll fit in if you choose to bring all of your gadgets, but you’ll also see many choosing to leave them behind. Don’t get hung up on feeling left out because you don’t have a laptop or the newest technology item!

Do you take your laptop w/you & use it the whole time? Or do you plan on bringing it with you to your 1st conference?

*Amazon affiliate links present

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  1. liz says:

    I say No. Personally, I still prefer paper to jot down thoughts. Also, I think laptops are too distracting/tempting (to check email, etc), and I feel like worrying about updating everyone else will take away from my attention at the conference which I paid to be at.

  2. LaTonya says:

    You’ve been reading my mind! Blissdom11 will be my first conference, and I was considering taking a laptop, and I thought against it. I’ve been going back and forth.

    I’m convinced more than ever, to take it, and not take it to sessions. I don’t want to be distracted, and miss any information.

    Thanks for your insight!

  3. I just attended my first conference, brought my laptop with me, but never into the sessions. I actually was really distracted by those who had theirs and were constantly tweeting, checking Facebook, etc. I guess it is expected at a blogging conference, but I kind of thought it was disrespectful to the speakers in a way. I’m just old school… I like to give my full attention and jot notes on paper when I hear something that I want to remember.

    So looking forward to my first Blissdom conference!

    • UnexperiencedMom says:

      I can absolutely see that – the distraction angle. Heck, it’s even distracting having the computer in front of me while watching tv, yet I do it. But I enjoy my show better without it. So makes sense it’d be the same at a conference.

      Can’t wait to say hi at Blissdom! You’ll love it….Be sure to connect with others from your area in the forums on here. ;-)

  4. Sandra says:

    Some very good points made for and against the use of the laptop at conferences. I never bring my laptop anywhere. I do prefer to look at the speakers and people watch. But I do see the benefits of having it.

    • UnexperiencedMom says:

      I am undecided for 2011 about laptop or not. Most likely will bring it, but maybe not to sessions. Thanks for commenting!

  5. The only reason I bring mine is to edit photographs. I’m sorta ADD and I tend to multi-task. If I wasn’t editing photos, I wouldn’t bring my laptop though.

    • UnexperiencedMom says:

      I am such a multi-tasker, too. I will probably bring it again, but not sure if I will bring it to sessions or not. Really hurt carrying it around! Are you headed to Blissdom again (with your headbands?!) ;-)

  6. I think the best middle ground is to use a netbook or tablet (like an iPad). They are small and lightweight enough to tuck in a purse (my netbook lives in my purse). This way when the time is right for me to use it, like during a session where I want to take notes (I do this better typing than long-hand writing), or if I want to do a wrap-up post at the end of the day, access files, etc. I have the ability to do so. When I am doing the more social aspects of conferences it just stays tucked away and I don’t worry about it.

    • UnexperiencedMom says:

      Really need to get an iPad! People are raving about them. I almost broke my back with my laptop this year at Blissdom – watch me try it again in 2011. ;-)

  7. Cathy says:

    I brought my laptop to my first conference this summer, but not to my second one a couple of months later. The major reason for me was the fact that it’s so heavy to carry around. I did, however, bring my iPad, and felt it fullfilled my needs for the time I was there. I was able to tweet and see important emails.

    • UnexperiencedMom says:

      The heaviness – I agree – a huge issue with bringing laptops. Maybe everyone needs to put a netbook or iPad on their holiday lists?! ;-)

  8. I have been to one blogging conference so far, Type A mom, and loved it. I am attending Blissdom and I am so excited!
    I was amazed at the number of laptops at TypeAmom. I was also amazed by the people who were able, not only to update twitter via tweetdect, etc, but type up and live post blogposts in the sessions! I am just not that good!
    I will probably bring my laptop to Blissdom, but I think I will probably rely on pen and paper and my blackberry mostly!

    • UnexperiencedMom says:

      I am amazed at what people can do during sessions, too! I admit I bring mine, but don’t always use it. Now that I have a smart phone, may try that during sessions. And looking forward to meeting you at Blissdom! ;-)

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