Measuring Conference ROI

stc-lightsYes, I am on the board of directors for the Society for Technical Communication (STC), so there is probably an inherent bias to any analysis of the conference, but I can honestly say that this was quite possibly the best Summit I’ve ever attended. The speakers were excellent, the sessions were packed, and I came away with lots of new ideas and new contacts. Overall, it was everything that I wanted from a conference.

As an independent, committing to a conference is tough. There’s no getting around the fact that attending a conference — any conference — is a steep financial commitment in terms of conference fees, hotels, travel and meals, not to mention the fact that you’re not earning money during the time away. It takes a significant leap of faith to trust that this investment is going to pay off.

So how do you measure the ROI on a conference? It’s not something that’s obvious on the first day back in the office. How and when does the value make itself clear?

I’ve taken a step back to look at my notes and see what I learned.

  • From Ben Woelk, I re-evaluated my role as an introvert, read a bit more about how my rare INFJ personality works best with others, and had a few “aha!” moments regarding a few of my clients’ personalities. That kind of insight can really go a long way.
  • Aimee Roundtree’s session on big data got me thinking about my recent Coursera Data Science Specialization in a new way.
  • Richard Hamilton’s session about self-publishing gave me some insights that I needed for a potential project that a client has been batting around.
  • Matt Sullivan laid out the how-to of using your content to create killer courseware. In a lot of ways, we were on the same page for how we go about projects, but he laid it out in such a clear, straightforward way that actually clarified part of the process for me.
  • David Rumsey discussed writing for translation and globalization, a must for all of my clients.

And this doesn’t even begin to cover the people that I met. The new follower notifications on Twitter are coming fast and furious, and I’ve already joined a newly formed Slack group to keep us all connected post-Summit.

Did you attend the Summit in Anaheim? What did you learn? If you attend other conferences, how do you find the ROI?

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