Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Conferences and sugar rushes

It's time for a rant about conferences.

Last week I attended our Aussie teams staff conference. The usual stuff: sharing what's happening in our offices, trying to tick off a few of the problems we face on a day to day basis, talking about exciting stuff to test, some socializing mixed in along the way.

I must admit as much as I enjoyed it, there were some moments of frustration when I realized that some of the discussed topics and matters arising had been regular points of interest for the last 6 years. Why hadn't we sorted these things yet I thought?

At the same time many friends and colleagues attended the AFP Toronto Chapter's Congress on the other side of the globe. I watched with interest at a raft of titillating tweets and great blogs began to surface.

So as I sit here a few days after both events, I ask the question to my friends and colleagues...

How many of the items on the 'to do' list, that you got SO fired up about last week have you ticked off as of today?

Because if you haven't put a line through them within a week, don't bother.


Not really. Think about it. Going to conferences is like having an almighty sugar rush. You catch up with friends, get inspired by some rock star presenters, promise to change the world. And then...... well usually, nothing.

I once spoke at the opening of a large fundraising conference on behalf of Pareto as a sponsor, and implored delegates to isolate three things they would do as a result of what they learnt over the coming days. And do it within the next week. Otherwise forget it.

Because if the conference itself is the rush, the following days are the post sugar come down.

Back to your desk. Loads of emails. Firefighting problems. Vowing you should never have gone to the conference in the first place. Your notes, written in the cheesy notepad supplied by one of the sponsors, is gathering grime and dust at the bottom of your bag.

Sound all too familiar?

Enough ranting. The solution? Here's my blueprint for post conference success.

1 At the end of the conference, limit yourself to 3 tangible actions that you plan to follow through on from your list of learning's. I.e. "Test the inclusion of a high value lift in my next appeal.."

2 Book in 20 minutes on your first day back in the office to map out how you'll make this happen. I.e. send meeting request to Tim about upcoming appeal testing.

3 Commit to sharing your conference learning's (and your 3 actions) with your colleagues. I.e. Make 'conference learning's an item on next weeks team meeting.

These are easy things to do. They're also essential to ensure you get darn good value for the organization that has sent you along to these events.

But if they don't happen within a week, they won't happen at all.


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