So, the Singing Pen is returned from my trip to the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine annual meeting in New Orleans last week.
This particular STFM meeting felt very different to me than the others I've attended in the past, and I have to credit Twitter. The social media "tweeps" there live-tweeted a lot of the conference, which as a relative newbie on Twitter I had never experienced before.
It was just incredibly cool! By following the #STFM hashtag, I picked up all kinds of great ideas from sessions I didn't even attend. I also got a kick out of contributing live tweets from the sessions I was attending; in one session, someone tweeted me a question in response. I approached the presenter at the end of the session to find out the answer for him.
After introducing myself, I stated that I had been live-tweeting her session and that someone had tweeted me a question to ask. The presenter very kindly provided an answer (which I tweeted back out) and then said, "that's a new one for me!" She had never been asked a question about her presentation by someone not physically in the audience before.
Now, lest you cry out in horror "how did you ever pay attention and tweet at the same time?," let me reassure you. Tweeting during the sessions was basically like taking notes, except that I was sending out my notes, real time, to people not at the session (and even not at the conference). I can access everything I typed out easily, and so I have a record of all of the ideas - and my responses to them - from every session I attended. Plus I have the ideas - and responses - of every other session live-tweeted there by others.
Conferences will never be the same for me again. When I was responsible for sharing the content I was hearing about, I became much more mentally engaged with the presentations I was attending. The constant Twitter hum of dialogue about goings-on made me feel much more connected to the conference as a whole.
And, last but far from least, this introvert also crept out of her shell and met some of the folks I follow on Twitter who were there. They are an amazing, thoughtful, and fun group that I am now privileged to know both in person and in the Twitterverse.
Looking for a way to get more plugged into your next conference? Tweet away!
(For a great wrap-up of the STFM Annual Meeting, check out Dr. Mike Sevilla's Family Medicine Rocks blog: http://www.familymedicinerocks.com/family-medicine-rocks-blog/).