Having just returned from two outstanding conferences, both sponsored by the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) andThe NEWS, I rediscovered something from my ancient school days: sit in the front row if you want to stay engaged and learn something.

Until recently, most of the breakout sessions and keynote speakers have begun to run together; perhaps you have been to enough HVACR conventions to know from whence I speak.

A typical session finds me camped out in the back of the room, jotting a few notes, and trying to think of an angle to make an old story sound new. However, sitting in the front of the room during two different keynote addresses yielded interesting benefits this time around.

The note taking probably suffered a little, but I hope you won’t mind as that may manifest itself in a fresher perspective somewhere down the road.

Rather than experiencing my usual back-of-the-room mind wandering and doodling, the keynoters were literally in my face as they chose to work the floor rather than perch on a podium.

One can’t help but become engaged when sitting in the front row. It worked in school, all those years ago, when I often opted for a front row seat. Listening becomes easier. Learning becomes easier.

The next time you have the opportunity to hear someone artfully deliver a message you have heard time after time, do yourself a favor - move to the front of the class.