5 Things to Do After a Conference

IMG_20121108_172452.jpg

What do you do after a conference? For many years I would walk away with an air of confidence and inspiration, throw my conference materials in a bookshelf, and get back to my regular work. Nothing would change after a day, or perhaps week, spent with successful leaders and strategists. If you have ever attended a conference then you owe it to yourself to follow these five steps. Without some form of this post-conference activity you will be missing out on your own capacity to grow. Here is what I do: 1. Collect the SWAG

Conferences are full of Stuff We All Get. This SWAG ranges from mundane to critical including advertisements and hand written notes. Make sure that you don't lose the phone number or promotional piece that could help you and your team take the next step foreword  You may find that the best part of the conference is connecting with like minded people. The conversations held between workshops may have a greater impact than any keynote address. Capture and process it all. Flip through it page by page and determine what you need to toss (most of it) and which items are important to act on.

2. Review the notes

You took notes right? Did the conference pass out material for your review? Take the time to read what was written down. Many people experience a higher rate of retention when they write and listen at the same time. That enhanced learning takes place again when you read that which was written down. Don't wait a week to do this; follow up with the notes right away. The fresh memories of the weekend will yield the greatest harvest when addressed right away.

3. Highlight take aways

Now you do something with all of this material. You have reviewed published and hand written content from the conference; now you must begin to synthesize these ideas into high level take aways. A take away is a something that you intend to keep with you long after the event has passed. These may be considered highlights or big ideas. The key is that you sum up some of the more influential thoughts from your conference experience.

4. Discuss ideas

Part number four can be the most difficult. You need to find a place to talk about these take aways. Take the next step and process big ideas with other people. This is done best with others who were at the conference but can happen with anyone. If you are part of a team then be sure to come back with a report about your experience. Present something that stood out to you as a discussion topic and not just a fact. Ask, "are teams more effective without food?" instead of stating, "the speaker said that hungry people work harder." If you are utterly alone then grab your cat and have a conversation. Stating your summarized ideas out loud is a good practice with our without an audience.

5. Consider new strategies

Can you do anything with these new ideas? Sometimes you hear something brilliant but it has no relevance to your team or organization; that is OK. Process it and lock it away for later development. Hopefully you walk away with some good ideas that are relevant to you. Start visualizing there integration into your personal context. Consider how these new ideas would impact your organization  Would taking these things on be worth the effort? Don't process this alone. Continue a discussion with the appropriate people and be OK with letting things go. But also be ready to be rocked by an idea. NOW is often the best time to implement a change. Just be sure that you complete the thought before beginning the action.

Brent ColbyComment