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 tends to help a person 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 gained with others.
1. BLOG LIVE FROM THE CONFERENCE
Do you enjoy being hunched over your keyboard and typing furiously? Then this approach is for you. Every so often, you'll see a session participant madly taking notes to capture the essence of a session. Often, this person is Cammy Bean, the Queen of Live Blogging. Check out her live blogging notes from TechKnowledge 2012 (scroll down to see all of her notes).
2. GIVE BROWN BAG SEMINARS
If you work in a small organization, throw a series of 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.
3. 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.
4. SHARE THE BACKCHANNEL
The backchannel typically refers to audience members using Twitter to share session points and to comment in real time. Backchannel curation refers to researching and gathering all the documentation regarding an event. It provides a way for people to attend a conference virtually, to catch up on missed sessions and to continue to learn after the event ends.
You can curate the conference backchannel for interested people in your organization. Or you can rely on the King of Backchannel Curation, David Kelly, to do an excellent job. Here is his curated backchannel of TechKnowledge 2012.
5. 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 Tumblr. It's very easy to get started. Then be sure to share posts with your peers.
6. 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 Google+ Hangouts, which allows for free video chats of up to 10 people.
7. SLIDESHARE IT
Use SlideShare, Prezi or another online presentation tool to create a self-paced review of the best of the conference. This is a good way to reach out to employees around the world and to allow busy people to learn on their own schedule.
8. 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.
9. ARRANGE Q&A WITH PRESENTERS
Most presenters I know are passionate about their topics. That's one of the reasons they enjoy presenting. You might be able to arrange a webinar or teleseminar question and answer session with a presenter to go more deeply into their areas of expertise.
Although an unscripted question and answer session is exciting, it's probably wise to gather some questions from your community ahead of time. Pass these on to the speaker so he or she can be well-prepared. This will allow the speaker to better understand the audience's main areas of interest. Then allow some time for impromptu questions and comments as well.
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!
Any other ideas?
How do you bring the essence of a conference back to your workplace? Or if you're unable to attend a conference, how would you like others to share what they've learned?
Connie Malamed (@elearningcoach) publishes The eLearning Coach, a website with articles, resources, reviews and tips for learning professionals. She is the author of Visual Language for Designers and the Instructional Design Guru iPhone app.