Choosing an Administrative Assistant and Executive Assistant Conference

An administrative conference should feed your brain and soul!

You have finally gotten the approval to attend an administrative conference or maybe you have decided to invest in yourself by attending an administrative conference.

Attending an administrative conference is a big investment of your time and money. You should choose wisely. There are numerous factors to take into consideration when deciding which administrative conference to attend.

  1. Start with the end in mind. What is your goal or goals for going to an administrative conference?
    • Education-wise: What skills do you need to grow? What new skills do you need to learn/develop?
      • The problem with this is sometimes we don’t know what we need to develop. It’s called our blind spot. To understand this further, Google Johari Window.
      • For the last several years of hosting our administrative conference, we have had themes that most assistants would not even consider. That is because our intent is to develop assistants for what is to come! To be ahead of the curve. Some of our administrative conference themes have been: collaboration; resiliency; revolutionary; and empowerment.
    • To network and meet new people
    • Learn best practices from administrative peers
    • Learn best practices from subject matter experts

  2. Do your research. Make a comparison spreadsheet, if necessary
    • Topics to be covered – do they align with your goals?
    • Speakers – are they polished professionals? Do they walk their talk?  Do they understand the administrative profession? Or are they a thought leader in a particular area of focus?
    • The flow of the agenda – is there time for networking? Hallway conversations?
    • Location/Dates
    • The number of conference attendees is important. Do you want to be with thousands of assistants or just a few hundred? Both have their benefits, however, at smaller group administrative conference, you get to know more of the attendees and it is less chaotic allowing for enhanced networking. (You may not always see this number listed on the conference web site but you can call to ask how many people usually attend the conference.)
    • The pros and cons of large vs. intimate conferences.
    • WHO is hosting the conference? This is really important. Today there are several people who don’t understand the administrative profession but are hosting conferences for them. Normally for these individuals or organizations, they are hosting an administrative conference just to make money. It is better to choose an administrative conference where the host or hosting organization is on a real mission to help assistants.
    • What is the value of the program? What are you getting for your money? Any extra events such as a welcome dinner?  What meals are included? Of course, the content should always be the most important but when you are comparing one seminar to another and can only attend one, you need to consider these other aspects.
    • Inquire about the quality of the workshop materials? Some administrative conferences are cutting back on hard-copy participant materials to save money. Many speakers will not even create a handout for attendees. So attendees have to take a bunch of photos of the PowerPoint slides as the speaker presents. This is a pain as you can’t concentrate on what the speaker is saying. I view this as a speaker being lazy. Easy for them, more work for the conference participant. Will you be able to use the conference as a reference guide after the conference? Do they provide robust information? What about post-class follow-up activities for ongoing learning?

  3. Identify your learning style to help you choose the administrative conference that is best for you.
    • High energy or slower pace?
    • Hands-on; experiential or sit and listen?
    • Talked to or involved and be able to do activities with other attendees when a speaker is presenting.

  4. When you attend a conference you are going to be surrounded by people for two or more days. What kinds of people do you relate to?
    • Low key vs. high energy. I personally love being around high-energy individuals.
    • Passionate about the profession or it’s just a job.
    • Committed to making personal change through developmental opportunities or someone who just wants to get out of the office and learn some basic stuff.
    • Do you want to be surrounded by people who will make you better? Or agree with you all the time?
    • Do you want to be around sharp, professional speakers and attendees or ho-hum people?

The above list are things I personally consider when I am choosing a conference for my industry. Be really selective when searching and choosing an administrative conference.

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