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When you receive an invitation to an upcoming conference does a lump rise in your throat? Do your palms get sweaty? Do you start having heart palpitations? Are you lightheaded? Gauge your excitement to determine whether or not you are a conference junkie!

Conference junkies are admired as the rock stars of conferences. They know everyone, and everyone knows them. They may occasionally be panelists, greeters, or break-out session coordinators. They may even serve on one – or more! – conference planning committees.  They reference prior conferences in their conversation, and plan to meet up at future conferences before the opening session of the current conference is over.

Everyone has their weaknesses. If conference attendance is one of yours, we can help you find a new way to respond to invitations and “save the date” notices. But of course, as with all personal change endeavors, you have to want to change. You need to break through your denial and find the strength, guidance and support to adopt both new behaviors and new neural pathways!

Before we go any further, we want to make clear our position on conferences – they are a good thing. They are great for professional development, staying atop of developments in your field, networking, and honestly – time away from the office. Time with colleagues, mentors, innovators, and thought leaders can be invigorating, leaving you charged up when you return to the office. But too much of a good thing is too much. So, before you register yourself – or even more dangerous, register your whole office – ask the following questions.

Will attending help you advance the work of your organization’s strategic plan? Is the conference related to your job? Will it help you grow professionally? Can your organization, institution or department afford the expense of travel, accommodations, registration and time out of the office? Will the time away create a gap that impacts your short- or long-term planning and implementation? Who “covers” the absence of those attending a conference? Who ends up being responsible for your work – or that of others – and what is the “snowball” effect of that?

While we too enjoy the exhilaration of participating in an excellent conference, there may be a conference hangover lurking. You know, that back-to-the-office feeling of overwhelm experienced while reviewing 278 emails requiring a response, the work back-log, and the looming meetings you are required to attend. Will you still feel good about the conference and the time out of the office?

Our bottom line: Before saying “yes” consider whether there are less time-intensive and more effective ways to achieve your goals. When you say “yes,” increase the value of your absence by planning in advance how you will share and apply what you have learned. And if your conference will be in New Orleans, plan for how you will explain your weight gain!

Whether you are caught in the spiral of conference madness or believe that conference overload is “fake news” let us know your thoughts on this topic. We will publish a collection of your responses!!!

Copyright 2023 – Mel and Pearl Shaw of Saad&Shaw – Comprehensive Fund Development Services. Let us help you plan for 2024! Video and phone conferencing services are always available. Call us at (901) 522-8727.

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