Meetings

Do You Need a Conference Accountability Coach?

By / Jun 1, 2018 (XtockImages/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

While you may have the best intentions to implement the new ideas you learned at a conference, other stuff often gets in the way. That’s where a conference accountability coach can help.

If you’ve attended a conference and left full of great ideas that you can’t wait to implement once you get back to the office, that’s usually a sign that it was not only worthwhile to you but also that the organization behind the meeting delivered something exceptional.

However, even with all that enthusiasm to put your learning to use, you often get back to the office and are faced with this all-too-familiar situation: emails to respond to, phone calls to return, and just everyday work that needs to carry on.

As a result, often all that new stuff you just learned gets buried deeper and deeper. And you may start to feel like you don’t have the time to go back and think about it—let alone actually implement it.

So, what’s a busy association exec to do?

Maybe it’s time to consider a conference accountability coach.

You may have heard of accountability coaches as people who help monitor health, fitness, or career development and make sure you are achieving the goals you set for yourself. A conference accountability coach would do much the same, except the focus would be on implementing what you learned at a meeting over the long term.

Ahead of the conference, you may lay out with your coach the personal or organizational goals you’re looking to achieve and what you want to learn. Then, once the conference wraps up and you’re back at work, you’ll check in with your coach regularly and monitor and track your progress. More important, your coach will call you out if you’re not hitting your goals.

You can also take a less formal approach and find yourself an accountability buddy onsite or pair up with one of your fellow staff members who may also be attending the conference. Once you’ve identified that person, make a plan to check in with each other once a month. This will help you both stay on top of the lessons you learned at the conference and the goals you’re working toward. Plus, it’s a great way to bounce ideas off someone who has a fresh perspective.

And for organizations wondering how they can play a role in post-conference accountability, it could be simply by tweaking your existing conference buddy program. While that program may focus solely on pairing people up to manage and navigate their onsite conference experience, consider expanding it to include post-conference follow-up where buddies check in and see where they stand with putting those ideas they learned into action.

If that seems too difficult to undertake, take a page from the Public Libraries Association, which has offered a post-conference webinar series. PLA took three of the top sessions from its annual conference and transformed them into live, one-hour webinars. One webinar was broadcast each month in the three months following the event. It’s a great example of how to extend the learning for attendees and get your conference top of mind for them again. And it could provide the nudge they need to refocus on putting what they learned to good use.

But back to all you attendees reading this: How have you held yourself accountable for implementing what you learned at a conference? Please share in the comments.

Samantha Whitehorne

Samantha Whitehorne is editorial director of Associations Now. More »

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