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Insight

How to Bring a Conference Back to Work

Friday, January 4, 2019
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When it comes to conferences, a better slogan would be, "What happens in Vegas should NOT stay in Vegas." If you're one of the fortunate people from your organization to attend a professional conference, how can you bring it back to the workplace so everyone can benefit?

During sessions, keynotes, hallway conversations and after-hours discussions, many great ideas are tossed around. Don't let them stay in Vegas! Share them when you get back.

Sharing what you've learned will not only benefit others in your workplace, it may help you take better notes and stay more organized during the conference. The pressure of knowing that you'll need to convey the best of the conference may help you plan ahead.

If you're ready to hone your leadership skills, here are ten ideas for how you can bring the conference back to work to share the knowledge you’ve gained with others.

1. SELECT, SET UP AND USE ONE NOTETAKING APP

Cloud-based tools are perfect for taking notes at your favorite sessions, because of their minimalist design. Nothing will get in your way. The best note taking tools will allow for tagging your notes, syncing to all your devices and providing solid search capabilities. Create a routine for cleaning up and organizing your notes at the end of the day or during down time at the conference. If you wait too long, your notes may be confusing. Use these notes as a basis for a sharing event when you get back to the office. Popular note taking apps include Evernote, Simplenote, and Microsoft OneNote. Not a good note taker? Take pictures of the slides that are most important to you.

2. BLOG LIVE FROM THE CONFERENCE

If your company provides internal blogs or if you have a website, consider blogging live from the conference. Unlike taking notes that you organize later, live blogging happens in the present. You’ll need to be a quick and efficient writer to capture the speaker’s ideas in language that your workmates can understand. The advantage to this approach is that the people who did not attend the conference get a live feed of the event.

3. LIVE STREAM YOUR EXPERIENCE

Although you can’t stream video of keynotes and sessions, you may wish to share the experience by live streaming your thoughts and feelings of the event. Consider going live as you enter the conference, before and after sessions, and as you walk around the exhibits.

4. GIVE BROWN BAG SEMINARS

If you work in a small organization, throw a series of informal brown bag seminars over the lunch hour to present and discuss some of your favorite sessions. Break down the silos and invite people from outside your department who might have an interest in a particular topic. Come prepared with questions that require reflection and discussion. This is a chance to work on your facilitation and listening.

5. FIND EXPERTS FOR ASK ME ANYTHING (AMA) SESSIONS

Your organization may have internal experts who are able to expand or go deeper on a topic of interest that was covered at the conference. Consider asking one of these experts to participate in an Ask Me Anything session. For example, if your coworkers were interested in a session on slide design, then an experienced graphic designer could spend a lunch hour answering their questions about visual design.

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6. OFFER A WEBINAR

If your organization is large and geographically dispersed, consider presenting key teachings from the conference during one or more live webinars. Allow for questions and answers as well as discussion. If you don't currently own or subscribe to a webinar platform, this is the perfect time to try one out. There are usually 30-day free trials.

7. CURATE THE CONFERENCE

Curation refers to researching and gathering relevant content related to a topic. In this case, you would curate the conference sessions that will be of interest to your coworkers. You might list links to a speaker’s public slides, videos and articles. Consider extending your curation to related content that may not be directly drawn from the conference. See David Kelly’s Conference Backchannel for a good example.

8. TRY POST-EVENT BLOGGING

Not interested in live blogging? Take judicious notes and then blog about what you've learned after the conference is over. If your organization doesn't have an internal blogging platform, consider a light blogging platform like Wordpress.com. On this platform, you can start a free or low-cost blog. It's very easy to get started. Then share your posts with coworkers.

9. START SMALL GROUP CHATS

Gather employees with common interests together and chat about issues and trends discussed at the conference. Let the conference topics be a starting point or stimulus for taking things further. Are employees spread around the world? Use one of the free video chat platforms.

10. START A BOOK CLUB

Many speakers have written books or often suggest books for further reading during their presentations. They will also be able to recommend books in their area of expertise if asked to do so. A great way to bring a conference back to work and to continue learning is to gather a group of peers with similar goals and interests to read and discuss one book a month related to a presentation topic. Discussions can be face-to-face or online. Imagine how much you would learn in one year!

11. SLIDESHARE IT

Create a self-paced presentation that covers the best of the conference. Then upload to SlideShare or another online presentation platform. This is a good way to reach out to employees around the world and to allow busy people to learn on their own schedule.

12. SCHEDULE VENDOR DEMOS

Did you connect with vendors who have products that could meet the needs of your organization? Most vendors provide in-person or virtual demonstrations. Schedule a few product demonstrations and invite experienced designers and developers to evaluate the products.

MAKE IT YOUR OWN

As you consider how you might bring the essence of a conference back to your workplace, think about ways that you can add value to what you’ve seen and heard. Put things in context so they make sense in your work environment. Relate what you’ve learned to the challenges others might be facing. When you add value and meaning for others, you make it your own.

About the Author

Connie Malamed consults, speaks, and writes in the fields of online learning, visual communication, and information design. She has a master's degree in instructional technology and a background in visual arts. She helps organizations produce a wide range of content, from e-learning courses to websites to information graphics. Connie is the author of two books, Visual Design Solutions and Visual Language for Designers, and publisher of The eLearning Coach website and podcast.

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