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20 Reasons Delegates Attend Conferences

Despite the millions of meetings, conferences and events taking place each year, I had a hard time finding a consolidated list of reasons that delegates attend conferences. To be clear, I wanted the delegate perspective and I wanted something more specific than “great content” and “networking.”

Frustrated that I could not find a prepackaged lists of reasons, I decided to make my own list. All of the items on this list came from secondary research and reading blogs and rants on the internet. As I came across new reasons for attending a conference, I added them to my notebook. After the list grew to 20, I thought the list might grow faster with your input. I am hoping that YOU will add anything that is missing. Will you agree to do that for me?

Photo Courtesy of BlueSkyPoint CC License

Photo Courtesy of BlueSkyPoint CC License

Here is my list of 20 reasons delegates attend conferences – in no particular order:

  1. Learn best practices
  2. Learn new skills – How To’s
  3. Learn about new trends
  4. See a vision of the future
  5. Listen to a “Star” speaker
  6. Earn continuing education credits
  7. Get New Ideas
  8. Try new concepts
  9. Listen to industry experts
  10. Gain inspiration – from networking with peers in the industry
  11. Meet new people
  12. Re-connect with old friends
  13. Share war stories (Share stories of difficult challenges overcome)
  14. Share your experiences
  15. Meet with like minded people
  16. Become reenergized as you become part of the larger whole
  17. Discuss common problems
  18. Realize that you are not alone with your thoughts and opinions
  19. Meet with several suppliers or customers in one place
  20. Had to go – the meeting was mandatory

As you probably noticed, this list is not comprehensive. With any luck, you are already thinking of one or two items that I have missed. If so, please add them in the comments section.

Why do I think this list is important?

I like to look for “hidden” insights that might help me change my perspective and challenge me to think differently. If I can learn something new that changes my perspective – then I might be able to come up with better recommendations, new solutions, etc.

For example, once this list was assembled the following words jumped out at me: Try, Share, Meet and Discuss. To me, these are action words used by people that like to engage in dialogue at conferences. They are not the words of people that want to sit and be entertained for 8 hours.

Equally important, I feel like the networking objectives were really specific, actionable and measurable: connect with old friends, meet new people, meet like minded people and share your experiences. It might just be me, but I can see value in developing networking activities (technology based and non-tech based) that help participants achieve some combination of these objectives.

What can you do?

I need you to join this conversation. Please help me fill in the gaps in this list. Let me know what is missing. Share your ideas and point of view. The goal here is to get as many people as possible commenting – positive and negative – so that everyone can benefit from your knowledge, expertise and ideas. I believe that together – we can create better ideas and solutions.

Written by

Samuel J. Smith is the Managing Director of Interactive Meeting Technology, LLC. He wakes up every morning to save the world from stuffing attendees in chairs for hours on end at events. Oh, and he has small children who usually want some breakfast.