Happy New Year! Are you and your colleagues planning for some inspiring professional development for 2020? Are you putting together or planning to attend professional conferences this year? Think about how important (and sometimes how hard it is) to retain and apply all the information you or your employees will hear during the conference. Sometimes it’s so overwhelming!
Big and small…and medium sized, conferences are an investment in time and money. Maybe you will all be gathering at your own organization to meet in the largest conference room your company uses. Or better yet, the conference will be held at an offsite location. Many companies have people coming in from different parts of the country or world to gather for learning, motivation, and networking. Conferences are a break from work, but it’s important that time is well invested.
When you think about the goals of a conference, they usually include building relationships and taking back solid information to apply on the job. Two thirds of conference participants benefit greatly from visual learning. If you are putting a conference together or have any influence with your conference planners, here are six great ways to leverage that statistic and make it work for you and your colleagues.
- Graphic recorders like me will take visual notes in real time during the keynote address. Your graphic recorder will create a visual summary of the presentation on one very large page, in real time, in full color. The audience is usually focused on the speaker. As a listener, you probably don’t have the time to capture the key elements of the speech. The one page graphic summary will be a perfect reminder of the key elements of the message.
- During breakout sessions, a graphic recorder will take visual notes in the breakout room. We are professionals trained to listen and focus in on the key learnings of the session as the participants are engaged in interactions and activities. The outcome is a concise visual summary of the important learning points.
- For social events like evening networking, you can capture the essence of the evening with a live graphic recording map. Make the most of the evening by providing your graphic recorder with a question or two. She will use those questions to interview and capture the opinions of those attending the event.
- Hang all the graphic recording maps, as they are completed, in a well-traveled location. I’ve found the best results to be where the food is served or at the coffee bar. This allows all the participants to have an opportunity for a quick review of what they learned, as well as to gain an overview of the sessions they were unable to attend. Just listen to participants as they further discuss the content of sessions they already attended.
- Save the large graphic recording maps and take them back to the workplace. Often they are an excellent back drop in your reception area or department break areas.
- Use electronic copies of the graphic recordings to follow up the big event. Send conference participants a conference book containing all the graphic recording maps, or pick your favorite for a thank you card or mini-poster.
Be sure the ideas of your conference live on past the event. In conferences where I’ve displayed my graphic recording maps as I complete them, I’ve observed participants continuing to talk about the content and taking pictures of the maps. What a great way to keep the conversation going!
Sue Fody is a graphic recorder who creates live graphic recording maps for conferences, meetings, and training sessions. She also prepares graphic maps and illustrations in her studio for a variety of business needs. Ask her to help in your conference planning, and ask about ideas to capture the messages from your conference in a visual way.