An administrative conference should feed your brain and soul says Joan Burge

Attending an administrative conference is a big investment of your time and money, so you need to choose wisely. There are numerous factors to take into consideration when deciding which administrative conference to attend.

Here are a few: –

1. Start with the end in mind

What is your goal for going to an administrative conference? What skills do you need to grow? What new skills do you need to learn/develop? The problem with this is sometimes we don’t know what we need to develop. It’s called our blind spot. To understand this further, Google “Johari Window”.

Do you want to

  • Network and meet new people?
  • Learn best practices from administrative peers?
  • Learn best practices from subject matter experts?

2. Do your research

Make a comparison spreadsheet, if necessary.

  • Topics to be covered – do they align with your goals?
  • Speakers – are they polished professionals? Do they walk their talk? Do they understand the administrative profession? Or are they a thought leader in a particular area of focus?
  • Flow of the agenda – is there time for networking? Hallway conversations?
  • Location/Dates.
  • Number of attendees is important. Do you want to be with thousands of assistants or just a few hundred? Both have their benefits, however, at smaller group administrative conferences, you get to know more of the attendees, and it is less chaotic allowing for enhanced networking. (You may not always see this number listed on the conference website, but you can call to ask how many people usually attend the conference).
  • The pros and cons of large vs. intimate conferences.
  • Who is hosting the conference? This is important. Today there are several people who don’t understand the administrative profession but are hosting conferences for them. Normally for these individuals or organizations, they are hosting an administrative conference just to make money. It is better to choose an administrative conference where the host or hosting organization is on a real mission to help assistants.
  • What is the value of the program? What are you getting for your money? Any extra events such as a welcome dinner? What meals are included? Of course, the content should always be the most important but when you are comparing one seminar to another and can only attend one, you need to consider these other aspects.
  • Inquire about the quality of the workshop materials. Some administrative conferences are cutting back on hard-copy participant materials and are moving to electronic workbooks on platforms such as OneNote. Some speakers will not create a handout for attendees so attendees must take a bunch of photos of the PowerPoint slides as the speaker presents. This is a pain as you can’t concentrate on what the speaker is saying. I view this as a speaker being lazy. Easy for them, more work for the conference participant.
  • Will you be able to use the conference as a reference guide after the conference? Do they provide robust information? What about post-class follow-up activities for ongoing learning?

3. Identify your learning style to help you choose the administrative conference that is best for you

  • High energy or slower pace?
  • Hands on, experiential or sit and listen?
  • Talked to or involved and able to do activities with other attendees when a speaker is presenting?

4. When you attend a conference, you are going to be surrounded by people for two or more days

What kinds of people do you relate to?

  • Low key vs. high energy. I personally love being around high-energy individuals.
  • Passionate about the profession or it’s just a job?
  • Committed to making personal change through developmental opportunities or someone who just wants to get out of the office and learn some basic stuff?
  • Do you want to be surrounded by people who will make you better or people who will agree with you all the time?
  • Do you want to be around sharp, professional speakers and attendees or ho hum people?

The above list are things I personally consider when I am choosing a conference in the training or speaking industry. Be selective when searching and choosing an administrative conference.



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Joan Burge is known as the pioneer of administrative and Executive Assistant training, and a successful entrepreneur who created a unique business niche to help administrative professionals see themselves as professionals so they could excel in business. ... (Read More)

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