Episode 280: How to get the Most out of Attending a Project Management Conference (Free)
We project managers attend many conferences. And I remember quite clearly how disappointed I was after some of these project management conferences because I realized that I didn’t get as much out of them as I had hoped.
So I decided that instead of continuing to hope for more success, I would have to plan for it.
This video and the accompanying checklist contain my personal best practices for conference success. I hope that it will help you plan for a successful conference as well.
Please feel free to share any improvements ideas with me in the comment section below.
Below are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only.
Cornelius Fichtner: Hello and welcome to Episode # 280. This is the Project Management Podcast™ at www.project-management-podcast.com and I'm Cornelius Fichtner. Welcome back.
This episode is all about getting the most out of a project management conference and we have a checklist for you as well. The idea for this episode and the checklist came to me a few days ago when I signed up for one of PMI's Global Congresses. I invested about $2,500 in my 3-day attendance at the congress. That's the congress fee, the plane ticket, the hotel so I decided you know what, with so much money at stake here, $2,500 quite a bit of chunk of money, I want to make this a success.
And so I decided to develop this checklist for you and for me because we project managers attend many conferences and I remember quite clearly how disappointed I was of some of these conferences because I realized I didn’t get as much out of them as I had hoped. So I decided instead of continuing to hope for more success, I would have to plan for it.
This checklist contains my personal best practices for conference success and I really hope that it allows you to plan for a successful conference as well. And of course, this checklist is available for download on The PM Podcast™ website. Just go to www.project-management-podcast.com, Episode #280 and you'll see a link to download it.
For the rest of this episode, we are now going to go through this checklist together. It has 3 sections --- before the conference, during the conference and after the conference. Or because we are all project managers here, it's nothing but the plan-do-check-act cycle. And of course the first section of the checklist before the conference that corresponds to the planning portion of the plan-do-check-act cycle.
Frankly if you want to stop right now, just download the checklist and work on it offline, I am not going to be angry at all because the checklist is quite self-explanatory but continuing to view this video to listen to this episode here will probably help you because I'm going to give you a lot of background information and insights and ideas. Alright then, let's get's started with planning our conference attendance.
It will come as no surprise to you that the first thing we're going to have to do is we are going to have to define goals. Why are we planning or attending this conference? So describe what you hope to gain or learn at the conference. Do stay realistic and plan to be able to achieve only one or two goals maximum. If you say yourself, 7,8, 9, 10 goals then suddenly everything becomes important and when everything is important, nothing is really important anymore.
As an example here personally whenever I attend a conference, I want to bring value to the listeners of The Project Management Podcast™ and I often achieve in various ways by recording episodes, by recording interviews right there live on site or just bringing home new ideas, business cards of guests I can invite in the future or episodes that I record on my own.
Now that we know what are goals are for attending the conference, let's define some metrics. Without metrics, we can't measure whether we've been successful. It could be the number of presentations that you’ve attended, the PDUs that you have earned or new ideas that you've generated, the number of people or vendors that you have met. Maybe you'll go there to meet some clients so how many client meetings did you have? Or even simpler, how many business cards did you pick up or hand out? Personally of course for me, often the number of Project Management Podcast™ interviews that I was able to record during a conference is a great measure.
Most conferences that I attend, they are out of town so let's not forget that we want to book our trip. We have to book a flight. We have to book a hotel and we also have to register for the conference itself. And of course, here we have to book early because oftentimes when you book early, it's less expensive. The conference that I just booked for gave me a $200 early bird discount. So it has been actually quite an incentive to book early for me.
As you are booking your flight and your hotel, why not consider extending your stay for a day or 2. Maybe you have family or friends in the town that you're traveling to and you might want to catch up with them as well. Or if not, well how many times are you going to back to that particular town? So go do some sightseeing.
Many people also decide to arrive a day early so they can stop by at the event venue and take a look around and scope it out. I for myself for the PMI Global Congress actually I'm not doing this because it happens to be in Phoenix. I've seen Phoenix before. I've done a lot of sightseeing there. So I'm just going to return home in the evening when the Global Congress ends.
As part of planning for a successful conference attendance, let's also plan for an open-mind. Remind yourself to be open to learning new ways of doing things. Set your sights on finding ways to improve yourself and your organization and your projects and be willing to listen to ideas and go to presentations that challenge the status quo of how things are done today.
Planning for success also means that we want to minimize distractions. Don’t be like this lady here during the conference constantly having to check the clock, your phone and your email. So do ask your colleagues not to disturb you during the conference and set up out-of-office messages for email and phone.
Next, you want to plan on which of the presentations at the conference you are going to attend. So review the conference schedule and select the presentations you're going to attend. Read the speaker's bio and also try and connect with the speaker in LinkedIn. Then write down the number one question that you want to ask the speaker during the presentation.
You should also always select an alternative presentation during the same timeslot. This alternative presentation, you can use that if you find that your first choice isn't really meeting your expectations. You just give up and leave and walk-over to your alternative presentation room. You'll also want to know which presentation sound interesting but you're not going to attend due to lack of time simply. So download the presentation slides, sometimes they are available before the conference even starts so maybe whitepapers. Have them with you as you travel to the conference so you can read up on the presentations you're not going to see.
Above are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete PDF transcript is available to Premium subscribers only.