Be a Star at your next Education Conference
Everything you need to say about your business should be condensable into BOTH a 30-second elevator spiel AND a seven-minute pitch. You’ve probably worked on your 30-second summary for every job you’ve had, but when’s the last time you practiced that longer, more nuanced pitch? This longer version fully outlines your brand and what you offer, and it’s the type of pitch presentation given at the ASU GSV Summit, a prestigious education conference, each year.
In just seven minutes, you should be able to fully educate your audience while holding their attention and capturing their focus. Even the best presenters can struggle at the ASU GSV Summit. It’s a different animal, as the few days in San Diego are chaotic and often overwhelming. Everyone is there with the same purpose of attracting potential partners and investors. So, how do you make an impact?
To find out, we consulted four ASU GSV Summit alumni to elicit their invaluable education conference advice:
- Rita Ferrandino: Co-founder at Arc Capital Development
- David Linke: Managing Director at EduGrowth
- Rubén Arias: CEO and Co-founder at BeeReaders
- Lisa Schmucki: Founder and CEO at edWeb
Here are three expert tips (and an anecdote) for standing out and making an impact, either at the ASU GSV Summit or the next education conference on your list.
1. Be ready to move.
Like most edtech conferences, the ASU GSV Summit is fast-paced, so attendees must come ready to move quickly and efficiently. View the conference agenda ahead of time, and determine where you need to be and when you need to be there. Ferrandino takes it a step further, suggesting your prep work includes your outfit choice, and one thing in particular: comfy clothes.
“Wear comfortable shoes, you will be darting from meeting to meeting, and you need to be able to move fast,” said Ferrandino. “Be ready to move all day. If you spot someone you’ve been looking for, you should be able to walk over and intro your brand quickly.”
Linke echoes this sentiment, mentioning that these conferences are a non-stop opportunity: “Be prepared to work really hard; ASU GSV is not a junket,” said Linke. “Working hard means long hours, and short, sharp and direct meetings which conclude with defined actions.”
In other words, know what your ask is prior to engaging with stakeholders.
Another ASU GSV Summit veteran shares insights on how best to prepare for the day. “If you’re presenting, block out that time in your schedule and leave plenty of time open beforehand so you can focus on getting ready,” Schmucki said. “Find the room you’ll be presenting in ahead of time since the conference space is so big and confusing the first time you attend.”
In general, our experts recommend a comfortable outfit and a day one tour of the venue. Get your bearings to get the most out of your education conference experience.
2. Be tactical with your schedule.
Scheduling meetings in advance is crucial. After registering for the Summit, you’ll have access to the attendee list via the ASU GSV mobile app – use this to your advantage. We also recommend signing up for the ASU GSV newsletter to receive conference updates.
Schmucki affirmed the conference app is especially useful: “Start early when booking your meetings,” she said. “You’ll need to use the app to find folks, and there are so many attending.”
Knowing the changes that are coming when they’re announced can give your team a leg up on the competition, especially if you have your key meetings on the books before you get on site.
“Be strategic by setting up meetings before you land in San Diego, because by then, most people will have a full schedule,” Linke emphasized.
Ferrandino agreed, recommending attendees pre-plan meetings while remaining flexible during the conference. “Getting key decision-makers in the room is vital to your brand’s success,” she said. “In addition to scheduling meetings ahead of time, be ready to accommodate ad hoc meetings as opportunities present themselves.”
To capitalize on impromptu onsite opportunities, we recommend keeping a few openings in your schedule.
3. Take advantage of your limited networking time.
Five thousand educators, investors, entrepreneurs and industry leaders from 50 countries will attend this year’s ASU GSV Summit. To make the most of your conference experience, our experts recommend keeping one word in mind: networking.
ASU GSV Summit veteran Arias shared some valuable advice he learned from a friend during his first ASU GSV experience, “Prioritize sales first, and investors later.” Arias related an anecdote about a Summit mixer he’d attended, where he found a venture capital partner he’d been pursuing for months.
“After I found my target, a friend I was attending the conference with pulled me aside and told me there was someone who I needed to talk to – I couldn’t believe he was sabotaging my plan!” said Arias of his discussion with the target VC. “Before I had the chance to discuss our plan, my friend introduced me to the director of one of the most prominent charter school networks in the Midwest, saying ‘this is Jocelyn, a friend of mine since school. She’s looking for a solution like yours. She’ll be your first paying customer in the US.’
“As if it wasn’t enough, [Jocelyn] was actively looking for a reading solution for her Latino students, exactly what my company does. Two years later [Jocelyn’s school] became my client. On the other hand, the managing partner I was pursuing left the VC firm, and the firm changed its investment thesis.”
The moral of Arias’ anecdote is simple: sales opportunities come first. Being ready to make new connections at any given moment is key, and Arias is lucky and wise for being willing to pivot in the moment. Linke also believes in leveraging every networking opportunity you get. “Use networking functions to make informal connections with people you weren’t able to schedule direct meetings with; you never know who could be in the room.”
Ferrandino also highlighted the importance of being ready to “talk shop” throughout any education conference. “Be prepared to give a demonstration and discuss your company’s offerings at any time – you never know who you are going to bump into at lunch or run into at a mixer.”
Tips for Your Education Conference Presentation
When introducing your company, there are some best practices we recommend and have included in our education conference presentation guide. This guide is a perfect tool for those businesses who will be on the “7-minute stage” presenting to investors, customers and other stakeholders at the ASU GSV Summit:
Attending this year’s ASU GSV education conference? Time to get planning!
Hotels and other accommodations book up fast for every conference, so be sure to do your research ahead of time. Schmucki mentions the real-estate mantra when picking your hotel… it’s all about location, location, location. “I always like to stay at the Manchester Hyatt, even if it costs more because the convenience is worth it. Escape out the back for food and drinks along San Diego Bay.”
In general, you want to maximize your time at the conference, and a closer location will save you some time. We encourage you to heed the advice from our experts and craft your strategy ahead of time. If you do, you’ll have a jump start on meeting your education marketing goals at this year’s ASU GSV Summit.
Did you enjoy reading about strategies for your next education conference? Try another from our blog:
- Public Relations for EdTech Companies – Three Tips When Heading into a Merger or Acquisition
- Social Media Tactics for Ed-Marketers – How LinkedIn Fits into Your Education Marketing Strategy
- Marketing in the Education Industry – The Benefits of Running a Focus Group at an EdTech Conference
- Content Marketing for EdTech – Let’s Get Visual: The Power of the Infographic