How to process an intense conference

At SBC we have just hosted Willow Creek’s Global Leadership Summit (see the session posts here).  As ever, it was an intense time of learning and challenge.  However, as with any conference, the danger can be that despite our best intentions and passion at the time, we end up not really doing very much with it all.  As a result the ‘high’ quickly fades and we end up leading in exactly the same way as before.  This post aims to give a few ideas on how we can avoid this pitfall.

During the conference

Although this has passed for this year’s GLS, it is still worth considering.  Here are a few things we can do during the conference to increase our chances of us applying what we have heard:

  • Take your own notes – there is something helpful about the thought process that goes into considering how to write it down
  • Build  bridges – no-one else leads in exactly your context so always be thinking about how what is being said could relate to your situation
  • Discuss with others – everyone hears things differently and the insights of others can be really helpful
  • Identify key ideas – summarise as you go so that the things that are important for you are not lost in the large quantity of information you receive
  • Identify key actions – note down the main activities that you want to do as a result of the conference

After the conference

This is where it really counts.  Unless we have a strategy for how we apply things once the excitement of the conference has passed, then most of it will be lost.  Here are some ideas:

  • Don’t bombard – the temptation can be to download everything we have heard to others in one hit, however this usually ends badly
  • Reflect with others – if possible meet with others who attended the same conference and share with one another your key ideas and actions
  • Share with others – either in regular meetings or in specifically arranged gatherings share with others some of what you have learnt and help them to know how they can learn more (books, DVDs etc.)
  • Further learning – decide which things require further study and reflection and put plans in place to make it happen (e.g. buy the book or set time aside to read through some websites)
  • Add tasks – add specific actions to your task list; don’t be afraid to hold some back for a time in the future if you have too much to get done in one week
  • Accountability – whether with a mentor or a friend share with someone what you plan to do and ask them to hold you accountable for it
  • Revisit – make a note or a diary reminder to revisit it all in four to eight weeks time in order to keep on track

Have you got any tips not covered above that help you process an intense conference?  If so, please do share them in the comments below.

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