Resolution Be a better delegate

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Three days into 2018 and Messrs Trump and Jong-un are toying with the whole mass extinction thing again by comparing the sizes of their nuclear buttons. Obviously for Supreme Alpha Male new year’s resolutions are always the same. Number one: more of the same. Number two: ditto.

Funny how we kid ourselves that the changing of a date carries such significance.

For my part, hopes that the next 12 months would be any different were dashed on the hard rocks of reality when, in the early hours, a helpful stranger interrupted my pledge to observe Dry January by pointing to the double whisky in my hand…and then the clock on the wall. For old time’s sake, indeed.

But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to up our game, accepting the odd hiccup along the way. I have resolved to get more out of the conferences I attend, for example, realising that too many of them pass by in a whirl of wayfinding, networking, and jumping in and out of taxis.

Catching up with old friends is important, but I want more of the content to stick.  To that end I have drawn up a list of resolutions, which, I suspect, will resonate with even the most seasoned delegates.

  1. Read the programme before the conference starts. Not on the escalator on the way to the opening session. Not during the keynote speech. Not when you realise you’re in the wrong room. On the plane perhaps, or better still, before you leave the house, when you can properly plan your schedule. It really helps to know what you’re doing.
  2. Attend at least one session whose title you don’t understand. We tend to choose seminars we know we are going to be interested in, rather than those whose subjects we know little about. Of course, it makes no sense to attend sessions that are irrelevant, but are you sure they are irrelevant? Who knows, you might just learn something.
  3. Further reading. If something sparks your interest, ask the speaker or panellist to suggest some titles for further reading. Then get online and buy them. With a bit of luck you could have a pile of stimulating books on your doormat when you get home.
  4. Seek like-minded souls.  Assuming you’ve read the programme in good time (see point 1) it often pays to seek out people attending the same sessions.  One of the pleasures of going to the cinema with other people is to compare notes afterwards. Why should conference be any different? It can be a tad frustrating to leave a thought-provoking session to find everyone talking about Game of Thrones in the networking break.
  5. Try to see the bigger picture. Believe it or not, a fair bit of thought goes into most conference programmes. They usually have some kind of over-arching theme, often overlooked by delegates  scurrying from Hall A to Hall B. Take some time out on those beanbag things to get a little Zen. Think about how everything you have learnt is connected and what it all means. Man.

James Lancaster
Written By
James Lancaster

AMI editor James Lancaster is a familiar face in the meetings industry and international association community. Since joining AMI in 2010, he has gained a reputation for asking difficult questions and getting lost in convention centres. Proofer, podcaster, and panellist - in his spare time, James likes to walk, read, listen to music, and drink beer.

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