So this is Orange Conference 2012 week! I love conferences and have had the privilege of attending (and even teaching) at every Orange Conference so far. I love it! And this year I’m even more excited than before (don’t know why, just am…).
So I thought I’d share some reflections on this whole art of attending conferences and talk about some of the pitfalls and opportunities a lot of us run into at conference. Today, let’s start with what I see as the biggest pitfall most of us (including me) run into at conferences.
Over-learning and under-applying.
We can’t really help the over-learning part. Being at a great conference is like drinking from a fire hose. Having spent good money on the registration, hotels, flights and meals, you would hope there would be more than a few insights. And there will be. Ironically, most of them will be lost if you don’t know how to capture them.
So here are some ideas to help you apply what you’re learning:
- Capture notes in a way YOU will use them. Conference books and handout sheets aren’t for everyone. I tend to come home, park them, and forget them. I do a better job when I enter the notes in something I will use. Like Evernote, or even the note application on your phone or iPad. Or if you love analogue, bring your favourite note book and use it. Just make sure that you capture them in a way you will use them.
- Capture ONE main takeaway from every talk. Not every insight is created equal. Just because you have yellow highlights all over a set of notes doesn’t mean it will help you. Before you leave the room, circle what you think your main, do-able point is – the one thing you don’t want to forget. Better yet, rewrite it at the bottom of your notes. When you rewrite it, you remember it.
- Process with your TEAM. We’ll have a dozen people at Orange from Connexus. At night, we’ll process big take aways with the whole team. This helps, and gets us ready for step four. And if you don’t have a team, make one up. Find a friend and go have lunch and dinner with them and process together. The more you talk about things, the more they will sink in.
- Write a REPORT. I am so not an admin guy, but I have to admit the value of something our Director of Operations put in place a few years ago. If you go on a church-funded trip, you need to write your top insights down on paper when you get back. Make this your summary – capture your best insights with practical action steps you will take over the next weeks and months.
- CALENDAR Your Action Steps. Make some appointments with yourself in your calendar or to-do list and review your insights and action steps to stay on course.
The conference will still be tons of fun, but you won’t just walk away with memories of great experiences, amazing conversations, inspired talks and powerful worship – you’ll actually be a better leader and your ministry will be stronger.
What have you learned about applying what you’ve learned at a conference? What would you add to this list?
PS. Tomorrow we’ll talk about networking at conferences.