On Monday morning at 9:30am, there are 27 other panels or discussions scheduled for the exact same time slot as mine at the SXSW Interactive show this weekend. This is not unique to that time either. Over the three days that the Interactive festival will be held, there will be hundreds of panels and discussions about interesting topics – and a nearly impossible additional number of "unofficial" talks and events and will easily overwhelm even the most experienced conference attendee.
So how can you avoid getting completely overloaded, or consistently feeling like you are always missing something? The biggest thing you can do to help is to prioritize the people and not the content. Who do you really want to meet or hear in person? At an event as large as SXSW, this is really the only way you can maximize your time and decide between a panel, a lunch or just hanging out in a hallway.
To help make sure you can still benefit from the content, even if you aren't able to attend every session that peaks your interest – this year Ogilvy is partnering with a great group of visual illustrators from ImageThink to create visual notes from nearly 100 panels and discussions at SXSW. Every day we will release more than 30 of these illustrations on www.ogilvynotes.com and distribute limited edition prints of the illustrations at the Day Stage if you happen to actually be AT SXSW.
It's our chance to help with the overload by sharing information in a useful visual format, while you're off doing the most important thing you can do at an event like SXSW … making real connections with real people.