The majority of your conference attendees believe that their conference learning is all about self discipline.
They think that the more conference education sessions that they attend, the more information they can absorb. The only strategy they know is to strive hard and fast to physically hear as many speakers as possible.
That intentional effort rarely works. Usually, it backfires. Part of our challenge is that we don’t understand our own brains.
License To Drive
To help your registrants increase their conference value, we need to help them know how to drive their brains. Sharing effective conference learning strategies can increase their ROI.
Here are four strategies to help them steer their brain to successful learning.
1. Deprogramming Old Learning Beliefs
Demystifying the biology of learning and deprogramming the cult of absorption learning is critical to increasing conference ROI. Learning is a biological process that is subject to physical, natural laws. The biology of learning requires the following four steps:
a) Receive information –
this is where most conferences flourish—dispensing information that attendees receive through their senses. The challenge is that the brain has a cognitive load that limits how much they can recall and learn.
b) Focus and connect –
The learner must stop listening, focus on the information and connect it to their past experiences or knowledge
c) Sense making –
the learner has to stop listening and think about what that content means to them
d) Take action –
the learner thinks about and discusses how he/she might apply it
Helping attendees and speakers practice these four steps increases the conference value.
2. Give Them Learning Annuity
Sharing how attendees can wield a powerful thinking tool—metacognition—is the gift that keeps on giving. Metacognition is the ability to think about your thoughts with the goal of improving your learning. It is also a step up the ladder from understanding the biology of learning. Using metacognitive strategies is being more conscious, aware and reflective along the learning path.
For example, thinking about thinking means when driving the brain
- Sometimes we have to put on the breaks and reflect on what a speaker has said.
- Sometimes we have to step on the gas by organizing our notes for sharing with others.
- Sometimes we need to stay in a lane and learn more about the topic from a different perspective.
- Sometimes we need to take a detour and go to a session that is off the beaten path.
- Sometimes we need to take a rest stop and play to give the brain time to reset.
- Sometimes we need to take a road trip with peers and we engage in collaborative inquiry and discussion.
- Sometime we need to stop and smell the roses as we socially engage with each other.
3. Apply BIG Deals
Brains In Gear (BIG) is when we understand and apply the strategies and secrets for thinking and learning. It’s applying the learning research from legitimate scientists. Brains in gear are sensitive to mood, timing, circadian rhythms, location and the environment. Brains in gear do best when they are allowed to reflect, think and share their thoughts with others. Talking about what they are thinking about is critical to their success. Adequate sleep, which many attendees forgo at conferences, is also necessary for increased learning ROI. Suggesting that attendees pace themselves and avoid a cauldron of churning activity helps them slow down to learn fast.
4. Secure Speakers That Model Problem Solving
SMEs that talk through higher order thinking skills when problem solving are great models for attendees. When experts discuss their thoughts, steps and strategies to their success, the audience learns more about metacognition. Sharing their mistakes and wins becomes the teachable moment.
Hat tips to teacher Nichole Galinkin for her BIG Deals ideas, authors Marcus Conyers and Donna Wilson, and author Benedict Carey.
How does your conference engage attendees in learning how to learn to increase their ROI? What other strategies about driving the brain would you add to this list?
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