I’ve attended so many conferences I’ve lost count. So much that I’ve now come up with my conference attendance manifesto. I’ve accumulated enough notebooks for a library of tomes of my own. I admit with every conference I attend, there’s a subconscious me that thinks through the theme and actual content delivered.
I contemplate the relevance of the conference to my felt needs or the felt needs of my team. There really is no point, besides bad time-wasting, to attending something that will not benefit you in the future or present! My conference attendance manifesto:
Relevance to Progress
I will not attend a conference unless it is relevant to my progression, as an individual and on behalf of the organization I serve. It is pointless for me to attend a conference or workshops on problems in the mining industry, for example (funny but you get the picture).
The fact that a conference is accessible to you doesn’t mean you have to attend. I will make sure that my intentions for attending are clear to myself. Nothing worse than getting there and asking yourself, “why am I here?”… The reason I’ll attend a conference is so that I can learn in order to grow.
Related to my first point… I will find out as much as I can about the content in terms of the programming as I can. If there are going to be labs or smaller group workshops I can already start contemplating which to attend well in advance and not on the spur of the moment.
Doing my homework before the conference means I’ll be better equipped to draw from the conference as much as I can. If I know that someone with particular expertise will be facilitating any sessions, I’ll be able to prepare my questions more intelligently and pitch them appropriately.
Because I attend conferences to learn and grow, I will shut up and listen more. Some people are not growing and are not any better because they’re not intentional about it! I will only speak up if it is going to help my learning. I will not speak just for the sake of it.
I’m sure you’ve met that guy who just has to “say something” to be heard and by so doing wastes time! (And yes, it is irritating). Another reason not to have unnecessary interjections.
There is no conference I go to without visiting the resource area. I find that with good conference planners give careful thought to specialized resources in relation to their conference.
Hence, I’ve discovered that there are resources that I may have been aware of, or not come across online or in the resource centers I frequent. These resources centers also prove to have the latest resources, some of which could be books that are about to be launched etc.
In the past I’ve tried to take as much notes as I can and attend as many electives as possible. I’ve changed my approach. I will only attend as many electives as i deem relevant. Also, even if an elective is relevant I will not go to if it constitutes “biting more than I can chew”.
I’ve resolved to get ‘doses’ of information in smaller amounts. Instead of looking to walk away with twenty things which, I may feel overwhelmed with, I’ve resorted to condensing my conference take-away to not more than five things. This makes it less overwhelming. Imagine your growth if you applied 10% of what you’ve learnt from the last three conferences you attended!
I started using Evernote after learning of it from Jon Acuff on a Backstage Leadership session with him. Jon highlighted the power of Evernote as being ‘indexable’. With notebooks or moleskins you cannot always easily go back to search for a specific thing in your notes.
Since then I’ve been capturing my notes and ideas from conferences or workshops (and other areas) in a way you can index. (Evernote is a great app!). Whatever ideas I capture, I want to capture them in a way that will be easy to access and locate. The first step to using your great idea is to protect it by capturing it in a way you’ll easily recall it!
Sharing what I learn with others is a must! This reinforces the lessons in my mind and helps me build accountability with those I share with. Sharing what I learn also helps me check my understanding, while enriching others as well. I wrote more about the importance of sharing what you learn here.
Telling people about great conferences is one of the things I also do. I see no point in keeping it to myself; I want to help people however I can and see them succeed.
Interacting with people on the conference is also something that I think is important. I’ve had experiences where my learning was enhanced by interacting with fellow attendees… Don’t underestimate the importance of introductions.
Here ends my conference attendance manifesto.
I’m over the pressure to be at every conference and you should be too (Click to Tweet)
Do you have a manifesto of your own. How do you decide which conference to attend?