What d’ya know?
We can never know enough in the modern workplace. At least, that’s how I feel.
Lifetime Learning A Path To Success
Good education serves as the foundation for productive work. Lifetime learning offers a well-marked path to success. It’s up to us to follow it.
On average, Americans spend just 4% of their waking hours in the classroom. That’s not enough time to learn what we’ll need to know for decades in a rapidly changing world. We need to put more effort into learning outside of the classroom, in our everyday life, so we are equipped to seize opportunities in a dynamic world.
We’ve got to realize that intellectual capital depreciates, like physical capital. We’ve got to understand that knowledge that once held economic value can lose favor in the marketplace.
Conference Learning Is Challenging
Let’s face it. Attending conferences is not part of our normal work routine. It happens maybe once a year.
We pull people out of their normal work routines for two to three days. We place them in an unusual environment. We herd them into rooms. We make them sit quietly and still for 60- or 90-minutes. We give them a 15-minute break and then repeat the process.
This is an abnormal process from our daily lives. It feels odd. Unusual. Different.
We provide an experience that is an emotional roller coaster. It is intense. It consumes time, attention, energy.
We provide boring diatribes and lectures. We force constant room churn whether from bad presenters or just several presentations a day.
We don’t encourage attendees to use their mobile devices or laptops. We don’t ask them to get up and move around. We silently say, “Sit down, shut-up, face forward, listen and pay attention.”
We don’t allow any free time.
We don’t give attendees time to think. To process. To consider how to apply relevant information back on the job. We don’t encourage action plans and takeaway strategies.
We compress years of experience and content and try to unpack it all in short time segments with audiences. We cram as much of content as possible into the time allocated.
We strongly urge participants to get up early and stay late. We provide receptions, parties and offer plenty of alcohol. We offer extravagant meals, usually not of the healthy variety.
No wonder people are exhausted by the time they leave the conference. No wonder their brains hurt.
Redesigning Conference Models
We’ve got to design conferences differently.
We’ve got to think about how the brain responds to the constant stream of content. We’ve got to provide options for deep dives, discussions and peer learning. We’ve got to provide adult white space that allows the brain to process new learnings.
The old model of planning a conference focused on what content is to be taught and what schedule is most efficient. We need to adopt a new model that focuses on the attendees’ experience. We need to focus on how the content can be best learned.
We need to move from covering the content to uncovering the learning. From the presenter’s perspective, to the participant’s point of view. From the conference organizer’s model of efficiency to the conference participant’s healthy and holistic experience.
Are you up for the challenge?
What are some things we can do to provide conference experiences that focus on learning? What are some conference experiences you’ve had that were planned with you in mind?