Lunchtime Links: Change How Your Conference Teaches Attendees

Learning booths and shorter, more intimate presentations facilitate learning and promote a closer bond between exhibitors and conference attendees.

Conferences sometimes feel like huge whirlwinds of activity and information. Attendees (staff too!) may leave feeling overwhelmed and may have trouble sorting through what they’ve learned. How can you ensure your attendees take away valuable learning that they can apply to real problems back at the office?

That, and more, in today’s Lunchtime Links:

Learning centers: Emily Bibens, vice president of Woody Bibens and Associates, has changed the learning process at her conferences. She developed the concept of learning centers, where exhibitors give 20-minute education sessions in small booths throughout a conference, often without audiovisual equipment. Not only did this concept cut costs, but it also improved the dynamic between attendees and exhibitors, who got a chance to interact in smaller discussion sections. “Participating exhibitors said the learning centers were ‘a winner’ and ‘took education to the next level’ in providing them with a meaningful, educational way to connect with attendees,” Bibens writes.

New methods: How do you take in information? More important, how do your members gather knowledge? According to Jeff Hurt of Velvet Chainsaw, the method has been transformed by the paperless movement, and now we find ourselves in networks of knowledge. If the way we absorb information has changed, the way we teach conference attendees needs to change too. In this case, he suggests creating “smart rooms,” meaning conference events filled with experts, not just a speaker on a stage. “As conference organizers, our task is to build smart conferences containing smart rooms!” says Hurt. “We are to design education experiences that lead to learning, not just information collection.”

Get it done: One of the first things Marissa Mayer did as CEO at Yahoo was cut the company’s flexible telecommuting plan. Mayer was roundly criticized by staff and others in her industry for her decision. However, IBM CEO Virginia “Ginni” Rometty is following Mayer’s drift. Rometty recently addressed the entire company via a video, exhorting them to “work faster, work harder.” Rometty’s “get it done” attitude is meant to motivate IBM’s 434,000 employees to get more sales. Time will tell if this new approach brings results to the former tech giant.

What’s on your reading list today? Let us know in your comments below.


Anita Ferrer

By Anita Ferrer

Anita Ferrer is a contributor to Associations Now. MORE

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