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Conference buddies: Helping delegates maximise events

Personal development/mindset expert Ross McWilliam, who works with businesses and in education across the UK, looks at how designated support for delegates in the form of ‘conference buddies’ can maximise the benefits of an event.

At many conferences and events, there really isn’t much expectation from delegates except just to show up, listen and maybe do a little networking.

But if the expectation levels are low, what does that say about how much they actually take away and use to benefit both themselves and their organisation?

How many times are delegates passive learners with no accountability to demonstrate this learning or personal progress?

What if this were different, where delegates get their own conference buddies to guide, assess and assist the learning, making this a very bespoke and unique learning experience – like an experienced hand to hold, so personal improvement can be maximised and making them accountable for their learning and progress?

“Many conferences don’t make delegates accountable for their learning”

Educationalist Professor Donald Kirkpatrick said that training has to fulfil four key objectives for it to be truly effective:

1. It must be fun
2. Learning must occur
3. Delegates must implement knowledge
4. Delegates must be able to measure the impact of that knowledge.

However, many conferences these days are very open ended and don’t make delegates accountable for their learning, let alone its implementation and measurement.

Photo by Edwin Andrade on Unsplash

Equally, science tells us that to really learn and be able to recall the learning, the hormone dopamine must be present. This reward hormone is released when we enjoy something or receive a reward and this release process actually makes learning possible on a cellular level in our brain neurones at the synapse of knowledge transfer.

What this really means is that the more we are engaged with the learning, and perceive it as important and necessary, then the more dopamine is released – almost like a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The repercussions for conferences are immense. A dull conference will not fire any dopamine and when this is coupled with no accountability for learning, very little information will be retained, let alone implemented back in the workplace.

“Accountability is upon us and thankfully so”

So perhaps it’s about time that conference buddies or conference geniuses are assigned to individuals or groups.

Their role would be to assist learning, answering any queries and providing guidance on how to implement knowledge back at the workplace.

This would surely make those paying for the conference feel more positive about future benefits to their own companies.

It’s just the same as a teaching assistant in a classroom who supports the teacher’s lessons by reinforcing, consolidating and explaining learning.

So accountability is upon us and thankfully so. Networking at conferences is great – and who knows where it might lead – but being accountable will lead to better work performance.