Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Real Value of Conferences

This month's blog post is by Julia of ASQ Communications and she has come with an apt topic for discussion this month - The Pros and Cons of Conferences.   It is apt because the prestigious 2015 World Conference on Quality and Improvement is going to happen at Nashville, TN from May 4 to May 6, 2015.  In her blog post, Julia asks an important question about the 'value of conferences, meetings and in-person events'.  In her question, the term 'in-person' is key.

In fact, Julia's question is valid and relevant to today's context.  Many organizations and individuals may not prefer to participate in such in-person events or conferences due to the reasons such as - i) it is an expensive affair, due to the travel and registration costs, ii) there are cost-effective ways to participate remotely, for example - through web conferencing, or,  iii) watch video channels or read blogs, for example - YouTube,  as they provide live or delayed telecast of conference proceedings.

To attract more participation in conferences, organizations strive to deliver 'value'.  When individuals perceive a greater value, they tend to participate in-person.  I would like to look at this 'value', from an attendee point of view, and discuss 5 special points that makes conferences unique and effective.

1.  Time and Effort, dedicated - True and effective learning happens when there is dedication. Conferences are those events primarily focused on learning and knowledge sharing.   Since people typically invest their 2 to 4 dedicated days at conferences, they get to learn and share knowledge, or discuss business - to their satisfaction.  This dedication is very unique to conferences and a  real value element that generates satisfaction

2.  The Guest Speakers, those famous personalities - It is always great to see or meet with famous personalities in-person and listen to them.  This is often possible only during conferences.  Conferences with best and famous speakers receive better registration and participation

3.  The Sessions, you get to really learn - Breakout sessions are very important from a learning perspective.  You can ask questions to the presenter only if you participate and interact live.  You also get to listen to others questions which is most often not effective, or even possible, when participating through web conferencing or while watching video channels

4.  Networking, meet human beings - Physical networking and the ability to exchange business cards is only possible in in-person events.  The bonding that one can create while meeting people and spending few days will be long lasting than virtual networking

5.  Entertainment and Fun, those memorable moments - Most conferences are designed with some entertainment and fun aspects.   It is not always serious business.  After a long set of presentations, discussions and breakout sessions, some entertainment and fun really makes the event more memorable for participants.

The forthcoming ASQ World Conference has all the 5 'value' elements discussed above.  Looking forward to meet you there.

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