Evernote – the Ultimate Conference Tool

I love Evernote, the popular, cross-platform note-taking application. I use it on all my devices (desktop, Android phone, and iPad) for many reasons:

Noz Urbina presents at Lavacon 2013
Organize your conference notes with notebooks and tags. Include photos directly into your session notes. Evernote automatically adds the date and location!

  • A to-do list note for every day of the week.
  • Shared shopping lists with my significant other, using the Premium version (I firmly believe in supporting products I use regularly. It’s well worth the $45 per year; that’s $3.75 a month, kids, less than two cups of Starbucks coffee).
  • Automatically saving things to a note in conjunction with If This Then That (IFTTT).

But there’s one more possibly overlooked use for Evernote that I find invaluable: conferences. I attended three conferences this year, including the Drupal NYCCamp and the huge Lavacon conference (see my Lavacon-related posts here and here), with nothing more than an iPad.

It used to be that you had to lug a laptop around — in addition to pen and paper — to take notes from each conference session, but no more! So what makes Evernote so useful at conferences?

Before You Go

Create a packing list in Evernote before you even go
Create a packing list in Evernote for your trip. Note: Rain gear was mandatory for a conference in the Pacific Northwest.

Before you even leave for your conference, make a packing list of everything you’ll need. You can even add check boxes to ensure everything is ready to go. You can also create lists of places to visit and the sessions you want to attend. Because it’s cross-platform, your notes will always be with you.

At the Conference

Session Note-Taking

Ditch the laptop, notepad, and pen, and take your session notes directly in Evernote. Because your notes are digital, you can also store photos of session slides right in your note, and include hyperlinks that are automatically live.

You can organize your conference notes using Notebooks and tags. In the most recent releases of the Evernote app, the note’s subject automatically includes the date and location, so you don’t have to work hard to capture this information; think of it as permanently searchable metadata for your notes. On the desktop app, related notes appear below each note for quick reference.

Make Business Cards Searchable

Evernote lets you easily capture all those business cards you collect at the conference. Using your mobile device’s camera, take a snapshot of each business card you receive.

Use Evernote to shoot business cards and make them searchable!
Use Evernote to photograph business cards and make them searchable.

Evernote’s optical character recognition (OCR) then makes the text on the business card searchable. Want to find that guy who specializes in widget design? Just search your notes! Then just recycle the business cards instead of keeping them floating around indefinitely.

What uses have you found for Evernote or other note-taking apps, particularly at conferences? Let us know in the comments!

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