Last weekend Csaba Ban hosted yet another BP conference, this time in Zagreb, Croatia. This independently organised translation conference attracted a pool of colleagues and speakers, and it was great to see so many new faces, too.
I’ve been to a few conferences in the past three or four years. Usually I’m looking forward to the event, until the day before I get an urgent request and I have to stay up late, or even take some work with me. Over the years I became much better at it and I don’t take work with me. That way I can enjoy the event itself more and tune in to what’s being said rather than keep checking my email (or even translating). Time and time again, when I’m back home after the conference, I suffer from post-conference blues (Google it to see you’ve got it too). A day or two and I’m back up to speed with loads of work in the pipeline. The conference mood slowly drifts away and it quickly becomes a nice memory.
However, one of the biggest challenges (apart from dealing with post-conference blues of course) is how to make the most of what you’ve learned and experienced at a conference and ultimately, how to apply all the tips you’ve collected. Here are some ideas for this conference season!
1) Take time to reflect
Flights back from a conference are usually a good opportunity to sit and reflect on the past few days. All of a sudden you’re no longer surrounded with colleagues, the buzz is gone, so take some time to think: how was the event, what have you learned, how is it going to make you different?
2) Write your reflections down
What I noticed works very well for me is to write down the stream of consciousness arising from my reflection, mostly just for the sake of writing it down and unwinding, if you like. I sometimes do that on rough paper, sometimes on my laptop, but always keep it just for myself. It’s my personal diary and helps my mind make sense of all the events. Of course, you’ll see some colleagues publishing their reflections in blog posts.
3) Write takeaways down
When I get home, or the day after the latest, I note down what I learned and group it in three categories: ideas, strategies, tools. Under ideas, you’ll find all the big thoughts that I heard or that struck me: more philosophical perhaps, or something to ponder on. Strategies list everything new I learned about running or improving a business. And finally tools are a list of new apps, software, websites I heard about at the conference. A good way to approach it if you haven’t been making notes during the conference itself is to go through the programme again and remind yourself what each talk you went to offered.
4) Make a list of actions
Following from my list of takeaways, I always try to draft a list of actions. If I heard of a useful tool, I’d write something like: “Try Todoist out” or “Look into getting brochures printed for a targeted direct mailing campaign”. Or if I heard of a useful strategy to grow business from a colleague, I’d definitely write down trying it out as one of my actions. Phrasing actions starting with a verb makes it easier to act upon them (rather than writing down Todoist and printed brochures and then forgetting what I was supposed to do them in the first place…).
5) Allocate time for post-conference actions
I usually allocate about 3 hours for a post-conference unwind. That includes everything from dropping a line to new people I met, through dealing with expense receipts, to turning my list of actions into… well, actions. If some points from my action list require further research or more time, I allocate appropriate time slots to them in the next week after the event.
Do you have any other strategies? Please share in comments below!
PS Yes, we were dancing in Zagreb.