Sometimes the Most Important Part of a Trade Show Is What Happens When You Get Home

Getting the most from WEFTEC or any industry conference means scheduling time to share what you learned with your colleagues.

So you attended WEFTEC in Chicago. You’re back at home and on the job. What will you do with what you learned?

If you want to get the most from your investment, you’ll schedule a time to give a full report to your colleagues. It’s a great way to reinforce and help retain the knowledge you gained. And it’s a way to maximize the impact of your learnings.

This is true not just for WEFTEC, but for any conference or other educational event you attend, whether it’s a meeting of your state or regional Water Environment Association or your state’s operators group.

Knowledge is power

In a fast-changing arena like wastewater treatment, knowledge is a valuable commodity, eminently worth sharing. When you attend a conference, you’re exposed to new concepts, trends in the industry, new technologies and techniques, and more.

Years ago while working for a public relations agency, I was a member of a national association for environmental communicators. I attended a couple of its national conventions, and each time, I took notes on the sessions I attended.

Then, when I got back, I’d set up a brown-bag session in a conference room and invite my whole team, including my supervisor. I’d take 20 or 30 minutes and go over the convention highlights, with emphasis on things I thought others on my team could use.

That way I wasn’t the only one newly enlightened; others shared and could act on what I learned. One result is that, because I had to revisit and report on my discoveries, I still remember things from those conventions that otherwise I might well have forgotten.

Multiplier effect

Those conventions were held in the days before the internet and smartphones. Just imagine how much more effective a post-conference report can be today, when we’re able to share links to websites related to sessions we attended and to papers we saw presented. Knowledge shared is knowledge multiplied.

I know how it feels to come back from a convention. You’re tired from three or four days away from home. Your head is splitting from everything you’ve tried to pack in. Chances are you’ve fallen behind a bit at work and need to play catch-up. That makes it hard to think about adding the responsibility to give a report.

But if you plan properly, it’s not such an onerous task. While attending each session, take down notes on, say, half a dozen of the most important points. Attach those notes to the handouts you received.

Then, on the last night in your hotel room, or during your plane flight home, review the sessions and decide which ones your team would most appreciate learning about. You don’t have to report on every one that you attended. Just pick the ones of highest interest.

Next level

If you record the highlights as you go, then assembling your presentation shouldn’t be a difficult or time-consuming job. If you want to take things up a notch, take pictures on your phone to capture highlights from the conference; then transfer them to a tablet or laptop and display them to your group using a digital projector.

Besides serving as a learning tool, your presentation can help encourage your organization to invest in attendance at more conferences. The sharing of information across your team adds value, which is what organizations look for in making investments in continuing education.

By sharing, you are really helping to create more opportunities for yourself and your colleagues to attend educational events in the future. So, now that you’re home, what will you do with what you learned at WEFTEC?


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