Being conference chair is a professional honor and recognition, right? You’ve got this! Here are some common conference chair fantasies put into reality.
1. You can do it ALL
No you can’t – no one can. Take the help offered to you, especially from experienced volunteers/staff. Listen, incorporate ideas that make sense and delegate. You’ll maintain your sanity and your real, paying job boss will thank you!
2. Chair knows best
Empower others and check in with them as needed. Let your experienced volunteers and staff handle the details. Micromanaging frustrates everyone involved, including you. Unless the last event failed in some way, there is no need to overhaul it. Build on past experiences and lessons learned to create a successful event.
3. YOUR vision is right
Limiting creativity to only what you know is well, limiting. The common goal is a successful, networking-filled, continuing education event. Ask others for ideas on how to get there. As the leader, you drive the vision. Remember – there’s more than one way to achieve success.
4. You have everything you need
Unlimited resources are nice – but not real. Budgets, time constraints, and a few interesting people are your real resources. Understand available resources early in the planning process to avoid issues later on. Negotiating for a $50,000 speaker when you only have $5,000 is disappointing to everyone. Know what you have to work with before you begin.
5. Everyone will thank you
Verbally, yes. Publicly, yes. Conference evaluations often tell another story! The two groups of people that most often fill them out are happy members (your friends) and unhappy participants. Because of your investment of time and effort, you will take these criticisms personally. Please know that a few stray negative comments are completely normal and usually the outliers. Any real issues will show as trends in the evaluations. Pay attention to those trends.
Remember – your professional expertise and leadership are invaluable to the conference’s success, so contribute as much as you can. Tap others for their expertise and support to create the conference you envision in a collaborative and mutually beneficial way. So what do you do with those conference evaluations? Pay it forward and send the constructive criticism to the next chair as they begin their own fantasy conference journey.