I am a self proclaimed conference addict. I love them. I love the learning, seeing old friends, meeting new ones. I've been very fortunate to be able to attend conferences in several countries.
This week I'm in Washington DC at the Gaylord Convention Centre and am about to start a full week of intense learning and inspiration.
There are four key ingredients to having a successful conference experience.
1. Know why you are going
For example: To network and make professional connections? To learn about a specific area like direct mail, capital campaigns or leadership? You can't achieve your objectives unless you know what they are.
For socialites like me this is a tough one. The social scene can be vibrant. It is costing you or your organization a lot of money and time to send you there. Do NOT stay up until midnight in the bar and wake up hungover. Just don't do it. You might as well not even bother going.
3. A Good Venue
This venue for Bridge is amazing The Gaylord Conference centre appears to be a brand new facility. It feels very much like a resort with a beautiful atrium, lush interior and exterior gardens great restaurants and it is located right on the Potomac river. A conference oasis.
It clears your mind. Pack running shoes, get outside away from the coffee and danishes and go for a run.
Sadly, and I've only been here for a day, But the last two points have combined to given me a very negative first impression. Upon my arrival I went for a run along the river. (I seem to have found myself in training!) There is a gorgeous, well lit soft limestone trail a long the river. It looks fabulous from my room and I could hardly wait to get out there. Once I did however I was sorely disappointed.
There is so much garbage and crap along the trail it completely ruined my run. I could fill a landfill with all the human waste and garbage along the Potomac. Here I am learning how to raise more money for the environment and today all I want to do is organize a clean up along the shoreline right outside of what should be a world class conference facility.
It would seem the importance of a healthy natural environment has been forgotten. This makes me very sad.
Perhaps it is a small comfort for some that most conference facilities have indoor exercise areas. Not for me though.
Watch this space for more about my week at the Bridge Conference in DC.
Can you add to the list of key ingredients for a good conference experience? Please comment.
Thank you for spending time here.