How to Maximize Events and Conferences

We’ve all been to conferences or workshops where the content is amazing, and we vow to implement what we learned or share it with our broader team. But, once we return to our routine, that desire gets drowned out by our to-do lists.

Have you been there? We have.

So, how do we create an environment for our teams to learn, reflect, share, and implement after a talk or conference? We reached out to our Learning Team here at Life.Church for tips on maximizing conferences and events.

5 Ways to Maximize Events and Conferences

  1. Get a buddy. Ahead of time, divide your team into pairs or threes and ask them to meet after the event to discuss it. This helps them reflect and process what they’ve heard and potentially hear a different points of view from each other.

  2. Encourage reflection. If you’re leading a training yourself or organizing group activities after an event, give participants at least 10 minutes at the end of the session or day to reflect on the subject. Ask them to write down three things they’ll do to apply what they’ve learned.
    1. Action: Based on what I learned, what do I need to do?
    2. Discuss: Based on what I learned, what do I want to discuss with my leader/boss/team?
    3. Research: Based on what I learned, what do I want to learn more about?

  3. Take notes the “write” way. Encourage your teams to take notes using pen and paper—not electronically—if possible. Pen-and-paper note-taking methods lead to better memory recall than digital methods.

  4. Establish objectives. Before a learning opportunity, identify the gap you’re trying to fill: knowledge, skills, motivation, environmental, communication. Knowing what you need to walk away with can help focus your team during an event.
    1. Knowledge Gap: Think about the information a learner needs to be successful in tackling a new problem or task. When and how is this information used?
    2. Skills Gap: While information is necessary to overcome learning gaps, it alone is not sufficient to overcome a skill gap. Additional experience and practice are needed to perform a new task successfully.
    3. Motivation Gap: Along with knowledge and skills gaps, you may need to consider attitude and resistance issues the learner faces, such as anxiety, work and home distractions, apathy, or fear. The right conference or event may be just the right motivation for your team.
    4. Environment Gap: There are a surprising number of environmental roadblocks for adult learners. Where do they study? Does getting to class involve a long commute? Do they have the right tools and resources? Do they have enough time, childcare, or transportation to take classes?
    5. Communication Gap: At times, the biggest gap is not knowledge, skill, or motivation. Instead the learning gap may be rooted in miscommunication of messages (e.g., directions) between the instruction (or instructor) and the learner.
  5. Activate background knowledge. At the beginning of a learning session, identify the speaker’s topic and what knowledge or experience you already have about this topic and associate the two. Connecting these dots between personal knowledge and the newly-taught knowledge helps us retain what we’ve learned.
  6. Teach others.After the learning opportunity, plan a meeting or session where you will teach others what you learned. Get together for lunch, ask team members to share during a team meeting, or hold a special offsite to discuss learnings. Why teach it to others? Here’s what the research shows about retention of information:
  • We remember 5% of learning from lectures
  • We remember 50% of learning after discussions
  • We remember 75% of learning by practicing the new skill/apply new knowledge
  • We remember 90% of learning by teaching it to someone else

If your next conference is the Grow Conference this week or The Global Leadership Summit next week, we hope these tips will direct the energy and attention of your team and help them learn as much as possible.

The Open Network Team is attending both, and if you’re not able to make it in person, follow along with us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook as we share the best of the talks and speakers from the conferences. 

And, you can find some of the most popular keynotes from the last few Global Leadership Summits for free on Open Network. 

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