Choosing what conferences to attend

In an ideal world we could go to every single conference that we had even a passing interest in. Of course, that’s not quite how it works in the real world, and budget and time restraints often leave us needing to be quite strategic when it comes to choosing the events we can go to. But with all the options out there, how do you decide?

While there are a lot of factors at play, probably the most helpful for your decision-making process is to just take a closer look at the focus of the events you’re considering. Many events in the L&D space (even ones from the same organization) zero in on a slightly different aspect of our field. That focus extends to how they plan everything at the conference, from the session topics, types of sessions, keynotes, vendors, and additional activities. What’s great is that this can make narrowing down what event is right for you easier as you can choose the conference that is best aligned to your current needs.

Take the eLearning Guild’s own four current conferences. There’s a lot more that sets them each apart than just the time of year and locations they take place in.

  1. Learning Solutions features content that shares what works now – practical, use on Monday information that will help you solve the L&D challenges you’re facing in the moment. It also includes the focus on the growing Learning and Performance Ecosystem approach to L&D strategy, which a growing number of industry leaders are embracing.
  2. FocusOn Learning zooms in on a few hot topics in our industry (for instance, in 2017 we’re looking at mobile, games, and video). Because the topic focus is narrower, you can take a much deeper dive into these areas than you could at other events.
  3. Realities360 will help you figure out how virtual reality, augmented reality, and other alternate-reality technology can enhance the work you do in L&D. Because these technologies are best understood by trying them yourself, this is the rare event that limits the number of attendees to guarantee you’ll get ample hands-on experience.
  4. DevLearn takes a broad, future-leaning look at innovations in learning technology. It will guide you on effective approaches to use what’s cutting edge in our field today and also prepare you to leverage the technology tools and trends coming in the future.

While many people who attend our events have their favorite, what makes an event “the best” is a personal perspective that really just depends on what you need at the moment. For instance, if you’re trying to jumpstart your video creation skills and want a wide variety of sessions on the topic, then FocusOn Learning might be the best fit. Alternately, if you’re looking for creative and tested solutions that you can use immediately, then Learning Solutions could have the most content for you. You also might consider attending different events from year to year, adjusting your choice as what’s top of mind for you shifts and evolves.

Conferences can also be looked at from what they don’t focus on. Need lots of help with building your classroom facilitation skills? To be honest, you’re not likely to find that at the events listed above. It’s not that it’s not a valuable topic – it’s just that all events can’t be all things to all people. You want to make sure the event you’re going to provides a wealth of content in the areas you’re most interested in.

So when you’re getting ready to decide where your limited conference resources go, ask yourself two questions: what content do you want the most right now and which events provide the angle on that content that best suits your needs?



When it comes down to analyzing your conference options, this new one pager comparing the four eLearning Guild conferences might help make your decisions a bit clearer. You can download the PDF of this image here.


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