Five Steps for Planning an Enriching Experience at ASTD 2014

The ASTD 2014 International Conference and Expo will have nine content tracks, 250 educational sessions, and over 9,000 attendees. This sounds overwhelming when you only have three days to experience it all. And if you’re like me, you have little time to prepare.

Strategic Thinking to the rescue!

Strategic Thinking is a multifaceted approach to thinking backward from a preferred future state and continually assessing how to achieve it, given the changes that take place in the environment.

Here is an example of how you could use Strategic Thinking to get the most out of the conference and expo.


1) Write your desired result from attending the conference as if the conference already happened.

For example, “After attending the conference, I found the perfect LMS to implement at my company and learned its functionality from one of the Breakout Sessions.

2) Work backwards from your preferred future state to plan how you’ll get there.

Here’s how:

– Check out this schedule for the week and get an idea of how many sessions you can attend each day, when you can tour the expos, and enjoy some down time.

Schedule at a glance

Schedule at a glance


– Based on this schedule, it appears there are about three concurrent sessions per day. I’d suggest choosing the sessions you want to attend by first clicking the Search Sessions Link under the Educational Programs tab.

Screen Shot 2014-04-10 at 12.42.53 PM

– Then, click the box on the right side of the page and search by date.

Screen Shot 2014-04-10 at 11.57.49 AM


– Once you find a session that’s related to your strategic thinking goal, add it to your Schedule Planner by clicking the green button on the right side.

Add to Planner button

Add to Planner button


– Once you click the green button, you’ll be prompted to login Screen Shot 2014-04-10 at 12.51.14 PM or create an account Screen Shot 2014-04-10 at 12.51.09 PM.


– After logging in or creating an account and then logging in, the session will be added to your planner.

– You can double check that it was added by going back to the session and seeing a checkmark on the right side of it:

Screen Shot 2014-04-10 at 12.54.15 PM.

Another way to ensure that you saved the session to your planner is to click the schedule planner tab Screen Shot 2014-04-10 at 12.21.58 PM

and your event calendar will appear Screen Shot 2014-04-10 at 12.56.21 PM.


– Going a step further, you have the option to click the View My Calendar tab located at the bottom of the My Calendar page:   Screen Shot 2014-04-10 at 12.58.47 PM.


-If you click it, an overall visual of the sessions you chose will appear: Screen Shot 2014-04-10 at 12.10.46 PM.



-Additionally, you can click the tab that looks like a clock under the options section Screen Shot 2014-04-10 at 12.11.20 PM


and, if you have Outlook, clicking the clock image sets up an automatic alert on you calendar.


What about networking?


I suggest being a strategic thinker about this as well. If the session you chose directly relates to your strategic thinking goal, consider researching the session speaker and seeing where they’re exhibiting. It will give you another chance to introduce yourself to them.

For example, when searching for a session, I clicked on the Be Influential session title and it brought up a description of the session along with the speaker: Screen Shot 2014-04-10 at 12.19.13 PM.


Notice that the speaker’s name is in blue.

– Click  the name and you get the speaker’s profile and company name:Screen Shot 2014-04-10 at 1.07.35 PM.


Once you get the name of the company, go to the Search Exhibitors Tab  Screen Shot 2014-04-10 at 1.09.55 PM and type in the company name.

Voila, now you have the company’s description, exhibitor booth number, and another green button which allows you to add that exhibitor to your planner:Screen Shot 2014-04-10 at 1.11.28 PM


When you are finished strategically planning your ASTD agenda, you can go back to your Session Planner and print out and share your schedule: Screen Shot 2014-04-10 at 1.13.43 PM.


I hope this helped! I look forward to seeing you at ASTD! I will be at booth 1319 along with David Heneghan, Kim Barnes, and Lauren Powers.


Contributed by

Rebecca Stern

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