It seems that there are any number of conference options for us to attend. Selecting and attending the ones that can most serve your next steps is critical. This week I’m attending a “don’t miss” Conference, and I am using these thoughts to prepare. I trust they help you too.
Arrive with expectation
Decide before what you want to GIVE to the conference not just what you want to GET. What expectations do you have of the speakers? The attendees? The time between formal sessions is often the richest time for connection and engagement. What are you willing to bring by way of attitude? Expectation? Generosity of intent? In my world, givers gain, full stop.
Who specifically can you make sure has a great time because you are there? How will you add value to the big picture of the experience? Trust me, when you do that YOU will receive it back multiple times over. Bring your best “Conference Face” along so we all benefit.
Be interested, not interesting
When you’re there, make it a priority to give the person you are with as much attention as possible. At a conference, there is always another person to connect with. Make it your goal to be more concerned with asking than telling. Prepare to find what is good and noteworthy about what the other person is saying and turn up that part of the conversation.
I have found myself guilty of “telling my story” too many times. The stretch to discipline myself, to focus on whom I’m talking to and to find out what is going well for them and cheering them, must be your priority. Celebrate what is happening IN them and FOR them. Ask them to tell you the wins they are having, the challenges they are experiencing and the dreams they are chasing.
Everyone has a story with gold in it. Imagine what can be learnt by stopping long enough to hear it.
Make notes, don’t take notes
I am indebted to my wife Megan Dredge for this amazing piece of wisdom. For as long as I have seen her teach and educate teachers she has made a distinction between taking notes, that is writing down verbatim what is being said and making notes, writing down what I am learning, sensing, feeling and committing to do as a result of what I have heard. Taking notes helps you remember what got said. Making notes provides a pathway for application and transformation. Much more powerful don’t you think?
Making notes forces me to personalise what I am hearing. Making notes invites me to focus on how I can apply what I am being taught rather than evaluate it. Making notes means I am more likely to remember the information because I reflect on it while I am being taught. It speeds up the internalisation process.
Try also to share some thoughts with trusted colleagues as soon as possible. The faster you share the learning, the deeper you internalise the lessons.
Make a few focused changes
Focus is your best friend. Spend some time identifying what lessons will have the biggest impact on your leadership right now. What small changes will make the big difference you are looking for? Be clear about what it is you want to do differently and what your next steps are.
Once you select the changes that will give you the best return on investment, share them with your most trusted advisers. As Marshall Goldsmith says in his book “What got you here won’t get you there,” GOING PUBLIC on the change is key to owning the implementation of it. Sometimes fewer, more focused changes give you the momentum and the leverage you are looking for. Make them with courage.
Enjoy your conference. I will. I’d love to say hi if you’re here.
#leadsmall – because when you do, big things can happen