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How to Avoid PCSD: Post Conference Stress Disorder

by | Aug 29, 2014 | Industry News & Trends

I just returned from the 2014 ASAE conference in Nashville, TN and I was thinking about how rewarding going to conferences can be.  So many interesting people to meet. So much valuable information to absorb. So many new trends, cutting edge strategies and best practices. Unfortunately, all too often we return to our offices full of excitement and optimism with a sense of changing the world for our co-workers and our members, and we are greeted with indifference.

Even though you are convinced you have a list of great ideas and proven practices, bursting into your office the day after attending a conference and raving about all the changes your association needs to implement is a sure-fire morale killer – both for you and your teammates.

It’s not that the ideas are not great; change just needs to be understood before it can be embraced. You are already bought in, but now you have to sell the rest of the team on these new ideas.  Any change effort needs to be collaborative in order to succeed.

Don’t subject the people you work closely with to PCSD (post-conference stress disorder). I mention this because Xperience2015, YourMembership’s Annual Customer Conference will be here before you know it, and we want you to develop a plan for implementing all the awesome knowledge you learn there and at the other events you attend.  (Xperience2015 will be held April 12-15, 2015 at the fabulous Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club in St. Petersburg, FL. As great as Xperience2014 was, we have even greater in-depth training and thought leadership sessions planned for next year.)

Here are a few ideas about how to avoid PCSD and to spread knowledge you learned at your most recent conference effectively.

 Three R’s for Implementing New Ideas

So you’re all pumped up after an amazing conference session. Who isn’t? But before you storm in and turn your organization’s strategic initiatives upside down in the name of progress, take a seat, take a breath, and spend some “quality” time and critically look at the ideas you are revved up about. Run your ideas and takeaways through the three R’s of implementation to determine which ones should be brought to the table at your next staff meeting.

1) Relevant

Identify which elements of a session are applicable to your association, always keeping in mind your available resources – meaning you, your staff and/or volunteers. A conference speaker should know the audience, and therefore tailor their content to be relevant to that audience.  It is important to be able to identify the ideas presented that actually apply to the work your organization does.

2) Realistic

“Keeping it Real” is a major key to successfully implementing new ideas. Establishing unrealistic goals and strategies can be just as demoralizing as not having any at all. Getting inspired by 10 amazing ideas during a conference can be exhilarating; but how about selecting one or two to start with? It is important to build momentum and a real sense of accomplishment when you tackle big hairy idea.

Brainstorm with your team. What is everyone capable of doing today? Are there areas where they could be more efficient? What is needed to tackle the new ideas you are proposing? Review and address any challenges or roadblocks you envision before moving forward.

3) Refine

Refine what you have learned to fit within your organization’s existing current strategies. You don’t have to follow verbatim the tips and strategies a conference speaker shares with you. In fact, you will probably find that you will be more successful by tweaking these ideas and “making them your own.”

Final Tips

If members of your team were in attendance with you, schedule a meeting when you return to the office. Discuss the takeaways you captured and consider what you actually have the capacity to handle and implement today.

For the team members that weren’t able to attend, share any available session recordings from the conference so they can get a sense of what has inspired you. If none are available, be sure to take detailed notes so you can share a summary of what you learned (and why it’s important) with your team.

Taking the inspiring ideas learned at a conference and putting them into actionable strategies requires critical thinking, collaboration, and above all, patience. Remember, changing the world takes a little time. Keep the faith!


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