Keep Learning by Attending and Speaking
By: Chris Salazar-Mangrum, USAV
Continuing education has limitless possibilities outside of the traditional online course offered through a secondary education institute or accredited certification. According to a Harvard Business Review article “As we age, though, learning isn’t simply about earning degrees or attending storied institutions.” Conferences, both with and without educational session offerings, can help grow your professional education and experience. Attending industry events can inarguably “Help Your Bottom-Line,” but have you ever stopped to think how speaking at these events can also assist your learning? Attending professional events as an attendee or a speaker is a resource that will excel your career to new levels, plus help your organization overall.
There are several events available to attend within any industry, vertical or business. Between PSA’s and USAV’s specific industries, commercial audio visual and electronic security, the group attends approximately 35 out of 50 events annually. These events include industry tradeshows, business conferences, technical certifications and conventions. As an attendee, the number of opportunities for continuing education hours is extremely high. In one year, a department of three individuals accumulated 450 hours of continuing education hours, of which 25% of those hours were related to attending sessions offered at events and tradeshows. It was noticed by their peers, managers and executives that the investment of continuing education was paying off through the daily work, approach to problem-solving, planning and execution. So, what are you learning from attending an event, trade show or conference? A common answer is, “you get out of it what you put into it” which can open a window of learning and prospect if you choose for it to. How are you capitalizing on the opportunity of learning by attending? What are you doing to make the most of your investment of resources to make the event worthwhile? There are a number of approaches you can learn to expand your knowledge from planning ahead, becoming an experienced learner and bringing it home. The outcome could benefit you and your career long after you attend the event.
There are a plethora of events available to professionals today that enable them to participate as an attendee. But have you considered the opportunities that events provide to participate as a speaker rather than an attendee? Did someone say, “public speaking?!” Indeed, Glossophobia (fear of public speaking) affects up to 75% of the population, but there are tips out there for Glossophobics to help overcome this fear and begin your continuing education sooner rather than later. In fact, there are many life-changing benefits of public speaking including increased confidence, networking and becoming more marketable/valuable to your company. From first-hand experience, there is a tremendous benefit to overcoming the fear of public speaking and challenging yourself to learn a new skill which is broadly applicable to your professional and personal lives. So where should you begin to become a speaker? Sift through the abundant resources from the traditional approach of how to become a better public speaker to a more innovative approach of active engagement methods or moderate a panel discussion. Need a topic to speak about or a venue? Leverage our company’s events, TEC and Cyber:Secured Forum, as well as industry associations such as AVIXA’s Integrated Systems Europe (ISE) and InfoComm and NSCA’s Business & Leadership Conference (BLC) and Pivot to Profit.
Challenge yourself, professionally and personally. Don’t be that employee that shows up, goes through the motions, collects the paycheck and calls it good. Become indispensable to your company by utilizing the vast number of resources that continuing education can provide you. Become a recognized name in your industry because of your speaking skills and be a person your co-workers and peer turn to because of your knowledge gained from the sessions you attended at the latest conference. You are in complete control of what you learn, so next time you have the chance to attend or speak at an event, remember the words of Henry Ford, “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.”