Making the Most of Conference Momentum

You’ve just come home from conference, and if you’re like most attendees, before long, your notebook will be on the shelf, and the people you saw, the stories you heard, the wisdom you told yourself you’d never forget, will fade into a memory, and you’ll be preparing for the next conference, wondering what you really gained from the last one, and how your organization actually profited.

Whether you attended solo or took a team, your organization invested significantly in your time and ministry dollars for you to attend. And while it was super to get away and receive encouragement, you may feel like you drank from a fire hose of information and resources.

You can decide to make the most of your conference momentum by following 4 Individual and 3 Team Post-Conference Steps:

4 Individual Post-Conference Steps:

1) Inspect your notes.

  • Set aside 5-10 minutes (use a timer if necessary) to critically review your notes.
  • Using two different colors, highlight
    •  Quotes you want to remember or share
    •  Action steps you want to do or you think your clinic should do
  • Put a star(s) by the one take-away you heard in a conversation or in a talk that you want to remember–that you think could have the biggest impact on you or your clinic.

As you’re searching for that one take-away, ask yourself, what is it about this take-away that grabs me?  What makes this one more important than another one I’ve highlighted? What kind of an impact do I think this takeaway will have on me or our clinic?

If you’re having trouble narrowing down to one, give yourself grace, and allow yourself 2 or 3. You’ll be sharing what you glean with your team, so remember, if you share too much at once, you’ll likely overwhelm them, so be sure to prioritize and limit yourself.

2) Index quotes.

  • Go back and beside the quotes, write the name of the person or department you think would be inspired by each quote; i.e. board, donors, specific team members. Consider sharing in thank-you notes, Facebook posts, presentations you give to churches and other organizations.
  • Narrow down to no more than 1-2 per department or person.
  • Write these on post-its or note cards or type them in your computer and save as a Word document for easy access so you can share.

3. Identify action steps.

  • MUSTS. Go back through your notes and in red ink, write MUSTS or RISKS beside any action steps that need immediate attention because you discovered a risk posed to your clinic.
  • I SHOULDS. Put your name by any ideas that you think would help you do a better job personally.
  • We SHOULDS. Put the clinic name by any that you think your clinic should do. These would not be as critical as risks, but they would be actions you heard that you think are critical to improvement.
  • Other ideas. If you heard ideas that you think are worth being considered by other departments, jot down those names by those ideas.
  • Prioritize. Obviously, if you heard information about standards or practices in an area where you know your clinic if falling short, those areas are most critical.

4) Inventory exhibitor materials and business cards.

  •  Save for specific purpose. If you picked up material or business card for a specific personal purpose, create a file and save that information there, and add the action step of what you need to do to follow up to your identified action steps.
  • Share with someone else. If you picked up something for someone else, put it in a file with his/her name on it, and add to action steps.
  • Scrap the rest. If you got duplicates or logo items you know you won’t use, pass them on to board members or special donors and take the opportunity to share about the conference and what impacted you the most.

3 Team Post-Conference Steps:

1) Interact with team.

  • Schedule a team meeting within two weeks of the conference to debrief.
  • Send everyone a copy of this article beforehand with instructions to complete items 1-4 prior to the meeting, and to come prepared to share.
  • Assign someone to take notes during the meeting.
  • Ask each person to share the #1 conference take-away he/she thinks would impact your clinic—include why and how.
  • Ask each person to share most inspiring quotes they heard—limit to three total. Discuss how these quotes could be shared with others to make an impact.
  • Ask each person to share top personal action step and number one action step they see for the clinic.

2) Integrate ideas. (Action plans)

  • Discuss MUSTS/RISKS. How soon does action need to be taken? Who is responsible? What needs to be done? When will we follow up?
  • Talk about other action ideas that team members shared. Were there repeated ideas? Did any suggestion generate excitement or enthusiasm? What further investigation is needed to move forward?
  • With each idea, determine if it is an item your team wants to move forward with now or move to the parking lot until a later time—(you can set the time or what needs to happen first)—and determine the answers to the “W” questions: Who is responsible?What needs to be done? When are we setting the deadline?

3) Implement

  • Each person should leave the debriefing with at least one action step—whether it was a personal item shared with the team or an item determined with the team.
  • Follow-up should be scheduled at the next staff meeting, no further out than a monthfrom the debriefing, and should provide each person an opportunity to report.

Reni Bumpas
Sparrow Solutions Consultant
Dyersburg, TN

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