They're All Still Talking About Your Last Conference!


A month after returning from one of your major conferences, each attendee gets a phone call. The friendly and familiar voice says: "Good morning, Betty. I'm calling, as you asked, to find out how things are going with that idea you said you wanted to use, from last month's conference."

After responding, Betty returns the courtesy: "How are you doing, Fred? As I recall, you said you were going to fully involve your plant managers in the accident-prevention program. What's happened on that?

Together, these two colleagues have a chance to share their progress and problems.

Sound like an interesting way to make sure that your conferees really profit from what they learn at your next major conference?

That conversation -- and 600 like them -- occurred recently when Safety and Health professionals in Alabama called each other, one month after their annual Governor's Conference. Each of them had paired up with one of their colleagues at the conference, and promised each other they'd make that call.

The results: a "second-wave" of conference impact...more follow-through on applying what had been learned...and enhanced return on investment for the sponsors, as well as the participants.

How was this put in place? At the end of the conference, each of the participants had gone through a process called Pair-Share-Declare. It took ten minutes at the time -- and resulted, a month later, in an estimated 6000 minutes of profitable chatter -- as well as some lasting "partnerships."

Conferees paired up -- in a rousing, enjoyable way that would assure compliance and success. Each of them then shared one of the best things they'd learned at the conference. It's a basic principle that adult learning is greatly re-enforced if the learner selects from what's been learned, re-phrases it in his or her own words, and commits to action.

Then, on a special 4 x 6 chit, each conferee filled in the following items and gave it to their partner -- and in turn received their partner's filled- out form.


Please put on your calender for
Monday, September 30th

Contact __________________________

At (Tel., e-mail, or fax): ______________

Re: ____________________________
(project goal)

What if, when they made the call and discussed their progress, one of them had run into difficulties which, together, they couldn't seem to resolve? Voila: Plan B! On the reverse of the form was my telephone number.

I had committed to being at my desk that day, ready and willing to work by phone with any participants who could use a little additional "executive coaching." (I received seven calls -- four just reporting how well this worked and thanking me for setting it up, two with problems on which we were able to make real progress, and one real stumper. (For that one, I called back after patching in one of the other presenters, and we had a conference-call which generated two promising approaches.)

Here's an added wrinkle. The chits which the participants fill out ,each have a carbonless-copy attached. They take the original, and leave the copy to be collected after the session. Result: the sponsor ends up with several hundred ideas and techniques which conferees found especially useful and were committed to implementing. Now, won't those be interesting and useful...?!

Copyright © 1999, Ronald Gross


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