This year is my 4th consecutive BETT show. I’ve been lucky enough to attend thanks to a very understanding headteacher who sees the value in me attending the show and encourages me to explore new directions for computing and ICT in school. Each year I pick up new tips or tricks on how to squeeze the most out of the show. What follows are my tips for Bett. They may work for you, they may not, but to quote Baz Luhrmann:
my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience.
Do your homework. Bett put together a guide on who will be exhibiting, where and when. Look through this before you go and plan your route through the show to maximise time and efficiency. Mark the speakers you want to listen to, they often provide some of the best ideas and CPD as they are there to share their own experiences. Take note of exibitor stands around the various arenas and plan your visit to them after a speaker. If you go before you may end up chatting to an exhibitor and miss the speaker!
Plan your breaks too. A lot like visiting Disneyworld, the lunchtime rush is best to be avoided, load up on snacks that you can eat walking round and then plan your lunch later in the afternoon to avoid the queues at the food counters. Calls of nature are also important as the facilities are out of the main exhibition hall, try and time bathroom breaks with stands closer to the halls entrances.
Take lots and lots of notes, even if you think you don’t need to. There is a monstrous amount of information to be consumed at the show and even the most eidetic of attendees will struggle to process it all with some help. Most speakers will link to their presentations which is extremely helpful. Other notes can be taken walking around the stands.
Photograph everything, a quick snap on your mobile is much easier than writing something down. someone offers you a business card, snap it and let them keep the card. You have their information and it is one less thing for you to carry around.
Which brings me to…
Who doesn’t love a promotional freebie? However you have to be selective at these events. Do you really need 4 dozen pens from various brands. Remember each freebie you take is another thing to carry all day. Be selective and take freebies that are linked to something you are actually interested in eg companies you may wish to work with/order from, or are so undeniably cool you would be a fool not to take them. Previous examples include a Lego Duck puzzle, a piranha shaped usb drive and a bright orange travel mug (I’m forever losing my discrete silver one.)
Make good use of your time by planning and trying to stick to that plan, but don’t worry if you end up randomly deviating. If you are interested in something there is probably good reason and if you are enjoying using a resource it is fair to say that your students will enjoy it to. Students enjoying themselves are engaged students.
In regards to the tech you take with you, I suggest keep it light. A tablet and a smartphone are really all you need. Laptops are great for detailed notes etc but even the lightest still requires lugging around. I’d also suggest a few powerbanks, these handy little devices can extend your devices battery life by a few hours or if you can dare to switch the device off will charge it completely. There are sometimes hand recharging bars around the show as well, so stop for a coffee and give your device a top up too.
Good old pen and paper is also handy for extending battery life. Write your notes and snap them with your camera to avoid excess screen time on your device.
Keep yourself hydrated! There is nothing worse that a pounding headache in a hall full of noise and flashing screens! Buy yours ahead of time to avoid captive market pricing within Excel.
I hope these tips are useful and if you have any more pop them in the comments below or look out for the various hashtags such as #tipsforbett on twitter to hear from other seasoned Bett-ers.
Don’t forget you can find me on the Education City Stand (D360) on Friday if you want to say hello!