If you haven’t signed up for the Ideas to Impact conference that’s being held in Dallas, Texas May 26 – 29, there’s still time to register. If you’re going, here are some ideas to help you get the most from the conference.
- Decide What you Want to Learn
Make a list of things you want to learn while at the conference. While you may be there primarily for your job, check with your manager to see what you might be able to pick up to help him or her.
Now prioritize. If you only have a couple of questions each for you and your manager, that’s pretty manageable. But if you have lots of questions, you need to sit down and prioritize them so you know what to focus on when you arrive. You don’t want to come back to your office with answers to the more mundane questions while leaving the most important ones unanswered.
- Choose Your Classes
Look at the classes, compare them with your list, then create your schedule. Be sure you choose the right classes based on your experience level. For example, if you just started using ACS Connections, chances are good you will be lost in the Advanced Connections Concepts class.
Remember that classes aren’t the only way to learn how to do something. While a class is probably your best bet if you want to learn how to set up payroll, a visit to the Consultation Center would likely be the quickest way to learn how to edit an employee’s withholding’s. (More about the Consultation Center in a little bit.)
- Before Class – Review
Before a class actually starts, mentally review the things you want to learn from the session. The instructor may allow questions at any time or have specific times for questions. Whatever the case, don’t be timid – be sure to ask any questions you have. You may be helping someone else who has the same question but is afraid to ask.
- After Class – Plan
After each class, or at the very least, at the end of each day, review what you’ve learned and note the most important things you want to take back to your church and create an Action Plan. For each of the items you list on it, make brief notes about how you’re going to implement the item. The action you list may change or will need more detail when you return home, but this is the first step to make it happen.
- Take Advantage of the Resources
Besides classes, there are other learning opportunities:
At Ideas to Impact, you’ll be surrounded by hundreds of other people who come from similar and also some very different church environments. What a great place to get to know others and learn from them. If you’re an introvert like me, that’s not the easiest thing to do, but the conference is a safe place to step out of your comfort zone and meet new people.
Before you get to conference, identify the roles and responsibilities others might have that could benefit you in your job. Knowing this ahead of time will help you as you meet people at the conference. While it’s likely you can learn something from just about anyone you meet at conference, identifying the roles and responsibilities others have that could benefit you means you can quickly identify those people when you meet them.
The Consultation Center is staffed by the people you communicate with when you call for support for your program. If you drop by, you’ll be paired with an expert and they’ll walk you through what you need to know.
Visit the Exhibit Area to learn more about third-party products that can help expand or make your ministry more effective. These vendors are there to show their products and answer your questions, so take advantage of the one-on-one time you can have with them. They might have the perfect solution for something you need.
- Manage Information Overload
If you’ve ever attended any type of conference or convention, you know that information overload is always a challenge, but there are things you can do to help alleviate it.
- Get adequate rest, don’t eat junk food, and stay hydrated.
- Take a walk each day or do some form of exercise.
- Don’t feel obligated to attend a class every period of the day. If nothing is offered during a time slot that will help you, visit exhibits, network, or just enjoy some down time.
- Make notes in your Action Plan. By writing things down after a class, your mind doesn’t have to try to remember all the details you’ll need when you return to your church.
- Know that overload is going to happen. Pace yourself so you can get all those juicy morsels of information from the last class of the conference.
When you get back to your church set up a meeting to debrief your manager. Share your Action Plan and together decide how to implement what you learned. Be sure to set realistic completion dates.
Don’t be overwhelmed by the thought of introducing new ideas. Remember:
Your resources are always far greater than you imagine them to be. Never ask, “Can I do this?” Ask instead, “How can I do this?”
Carol Brown is a Senior Technical Writer with ACS Technologies