By Maureen Sojka, Events Manager
You spend months planning a great conference. The event is here and gone and your job is now done. Not so fast. To bring your conference to the next level, a post-conference learning plan could show attendees that you care about their experience and want them to bring back everything that they learned to the office.
- Send out a post-event newsletter or email to attendees
While attendees will be gaining lots of information at the conference, once they are back into their daily grind they may let some of the oomph from the conference get lost. Your email can be monthly, bi-monthly or perhaps quarterly, but could include tips, tricks or quotes from speakers, or perhaps even links back to the session handouts or videos of the general sessions. You could also direct attendees to a Facebook or LinkedIn group to have real-time conversations. Invite attendees to post about how they are converting what they learned at the conference to the real world.
While some associations use a “buddy system” for attendees onsite, this idea could be applied to connect guests with each other, on the phone or in a chatroom, to hold each other accountable to using what they learned at the conference in everyday life. Buddies could be assigned before the conference, basing the match off of the individuals’ background and professional interests. Connect buddies via email so that they can introduce themselves before the conference starts and form some type of connection. During the conference organize a “Buddy Breakfast,” where they can connect and meet in person, exchange ideas and make plans to see each other at networking events or lunch throughout the conference. The end goal is that your attendees will create relationships for post-conference connection and banter about professional and conference topics. A few weeks after the conference an email reminder can be sent to the entire attendee list that invites members to reach out to their buddy to see how they are using material in “real life.”
Often, attendees could be overwhelmed by all of the information at their fingertips. It helps to use a refresher after the conference is over. Setting up periodical “Lunch & Learn” webinars that build off of topics discussed at the conference could keep the conference fresh in the mind of attendees. Be sure to offer the webinar live with the ability to watch it afterwards for those who might not have been able to attend. Invite speakers to moderate the webinars or offer fresh talent that drives home key messages.
- Make an easy spot for notes
While it might sound simple, creating a few blank pages for notes in your programs and materials, along with readily available pens, can help attendees keep their takeaways from the conference handy with their other items from the event. Writing a series of questions, along with space, for them to answer might help pull out some important information they are learning. By having guests keep their notes in one place along with the conference materials, it will make it easy for them to go back, review, and apply it to their life. You could also bring this topic to social media and ask guests to share their best notes using a particular hashtag.
- Use your publications to cover your conference
If your association has a publication, be sure to post articles that highlight event topics for readers. You can dedicate a whole issue to your conference with articles from the speakers as a way to refresh key topics. Make sure attendees are on your mailing list by having sign ups at frequent locations and even invite their feedback and insight or include photos of people at the show in publication as a way to increase interest and excitement for the issue.
Maureen Sojka is an Events Manager at CMA Association Management.
If you would like to leverage CMA Association Management’s experience, we would love to chat. Please contact us at 800.852.4269 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.