For those of us in any industry lucky enough to experience top notch conference events – although the networking may be great, we must remember that they will only become a useful learning experience when we can apply what we have learnt back into real life.
You can create real impact from your conference by maximising the learning fully. Experiment with the following 5 things…
1) Capture the learning while you’re in the zone
This might sound obvious but keep track of your learning as you go. If there is not enough time then pencil in 30 minutes at the end of the day to jot down your key learnings. Don’t wait until you’re back in the workplace and the conference is just a blip in the rear view mirror! Make notes, audios or doodles – whatever works for you. Summarise key points so you can re-visit with ease.
2) Create an action plan
Put pen to paper and commit to what you are going to do. Do it immediately, whilst you are still inspired by what you are learning, before you leave the conference venue, or at the very least duck into a coffee shop on the way home or make it priority at the airport lounge before you get stuck into emails. Don’t convince yourself you will come back to it – you probably won’t! Download our example action plan
to help start you off.
3) Stick to a timeline
Break your action plan into bite size chunks using a timeline spread over the next 1-3 months. Start with what needs to happen immediately before you can go any further with the project. Any longer than 3 months, and you may find it challenging to keep the momentum going.
4) Be realistic
Don’t put anything in the plan you won’t do. If you’re really not into it at the time you are doing your action plan, or it’s something that you think you should do rather than want to do, then don’t put it in the plan. Your ability to transfer your learning from the conference will be so much higher when you want to do it.
5) Find an accountability ‘buddy’
When I speak at conferences these days I distribute Turning Learning into Action
postcards, which are essentially bite-sized learning transfer focused action plans. I ask everyone in the audience to complete their action plan postcard and then pair up with their neighbour, and hold each other accountable to following through on their action/s. Your buddy could also be a colleague, friend or mentor. An accountability buddy helps hold you accountable to what you want to do. They don’t nag you or tell you what to do, but they have a copy of your plan too. You can agree upfront how often you are going to review the plan with them to discuss progress. Their role is to listen, so pick someone you think can listen.
Enjoy turning your conference learning into action!