Monday, March 26, 2012

Permission to be an Adult - Conference Musings

Event Camp Vancouver - ready for comfortable, engaging interaction, knowledge sharing and relevant learning

I am a firm believer in life-long learning and I find that conferences are indeed one of the best ways to find relevant and current information related to my area of interest. I have been in the industry for a long time and feel fortunate to have friends working in meetings and events around the world, many who I only see at these same meetings, as attendees, facilitators and presenters. These are both good reasons to attend meetings and likely the same reasons many of us attend events on a voluntary basis.  (vs say a mandated corporate meeting). 

Maybe it is just me, but here is a struggle I face with attending conferences; conferences typically are not that comfortable.  One of the challenges in attending is that it is so easy as an attendee to lose our ability to be an adult, as we are overwhelmed with difficult to navigate information, finding our way through an unfamiliar facility or facilities, in different cities or countries, often in different time zones and with cultural variances.  Often we are used to being the meeting planner and knowing all the details, and in attending we lose our sense of control, and with this the sense of comfort the control over the details gives us.  

Occasionally I have the opportunity to attend an event (or plan one such as Event Camp Vancouver) where the experience of the participants is put at the top of the list of deliverables.  Where information is available ahead of time, where we feel welcome from the beginning, where the environment allows for seating that is appropriate for our learning style and where we feel our opinions and ideas can be shared.

Imagine if you attended a meeting where you felt like the independant adult you are, instead of part of the herd moving from space to space?

What if from the minute you arrived, you felt as though there were many possibilities ahead and you could anticipate them eagerly?

A comfortable environment - one where you could find a seat that was comfortable for you and what you will be learning - where it is not just row upon row of dark theatre seats where you are talked at, but instead a space where you can interact with your peers in a positive way. Where you can leave to get a coffee without fighting through a crowd in a prescribed 15 minute time period and where the food is what will sustain you (vs a white flour filler that causes a blood sugar crash in the midst of a session) and where how you take notes is not judged - paper, twitter, tablet or laptop.  Where any teambuilding is voluntary - and is so enticing you want to participate.

Wouldn't you like to attend a meeting where you have permission to be an adult?

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