It is exciting going to your first industry conference. There is so much to see, many sessions, and people to meet. It’s thrilling! You feel part of the industry.
However, your third, fourth, and more conference attendance experiences are a bit different. You probably go to a lot fewer instructional sessions. Instead, you go to meet colleagues and end up learning more over coffee, dinner, or through casual conversations.
Many senior folks go to conferences to meet and talk with others. What if the conference experience was flipped on its head, so the primary purpose, drive, and experience were around meaningful conversations with others? Not casual, drive-by conversations but in-depth conversations over a couple of days. What if those conversations included input from experts, L&D professionals who have been doing this sort of design and learning stuff for decades.
As microbreweries started to overtake larger “corporate” breweries, micro - or boutique conferences like Step Away! are becoming popular. These smaller boutique events are becoming popular for many reasons. Here are a few reasons people choose to attend Step Away! a boutique conference held in a house where every room is themed after a game.
One: Step Away! is an immersive experience! Three days at a remote private resort that is themed after classic games and fully catered, where every meal is with your colleagues and hosts. You bring your own business or learning problem to work on and work with your peers on their learning problems to collaborate, compare notes, and gain insights. Discovering the creative process through immersion in an L&D-related business problem will help you solve that problem and learn a process you can apply to many others through generalization. Step Away! is an environment that encourages meaningful conversations, whether it’s morning coffee on the patio, a mid-afternoon swim, chilling in the movie theater, or testing your luck at the midway arcade. You don’t go back to your hotel room after an engaging conversation; you see the person the next day and can continue the discussion.
Two: Unfettered access to experts. You are in the same space as experienced experts. You can ask a burning question to someone who has spent years studying L&D interventions, creating work for clients, and making a living exploring and discovering the ins and outs of instructional design. Your hosts headline workshops, facilitate professional training events, lead corporate retreats, and are academic professors. They know design and development inside and out, and you get to know them, speak with them, and engage in conversations that will change how you think about instructional design.
Three: Step Away! allows you to work on your L&D business problem. With a big corporate conference, there are just too many people to have everyone work on their problems. Even in pre-conference workshops, you typically have 30-40 people or more attending, asking questions and trying to address their own business needs. At a boutique event like Step Away! the maximum is 20 people, spread out over several days. There is no pressure to get through an agenda before the end of the day because it’s one big learning experience for three days!
There are dozens more reasons to attend a boutique event like Step Away! but for now, stop and think - what is the real value proposition of a large conference? If you believe one-on-ones with leaders in the industry, in-depth conversations with peers, and a chance to solve a real L&D business problem are primary drivers for why you would want to attend a conference, rethink the conferences you are attending.
Take one year, STOP attending the same-old-same-old conferences, and attend something different, unique, and career-changing. Attend Step Away! this year.