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Maximizing NACE Experience Education

Attending a conference like NACE Experience is an exciting endeavor, but it’s also an investment of time and resources. And while there are a number of reasons for taking the conference plunge, education is typically one of the first priorities in attending.

With that, it’s essential to make sure you’re maximizing the opportunity as an attendee by setting up yourself up for success in advance. This is especially the case if you’re also on the lookout for great industry educators to bring back to your own chapter.

So- where does one actually start, especially when balancing work in the height of busy-season?

Take a Look Back

If you’ve attended Experience in years past, look back at the speakers and topics that stood out for you. If particular speakers resonated with you, there’s a strong chance he or she will again. Likewise, you’ll know to avoid those speakers that weren’t a fit for you.

Set your conference goals

Conference days are jam-packed with education, so, unfortunately, you can’t take in all there is to offer. You will have to pick and choose the sessions you attend, so you need an idea of what you want to accomplish at NACE Experience.

Are you looking to elevate your sales approach? Do you want to focus on making new connections? Is it important for you to get up to speed with the latest industry trends? Once you know your big goal, you’ll have a better idea of how the education you receive at Experience can help you reach it.

Come with a game plan

Hopefully, you’ve already checked out the NACE Experience schedule, which is readily available online. However, it’s not enough to simply have it on hand — you have to approach the conference schedule with a strategy based on the goals you’re setting for yourself. Take some time to carefully review it and map out your plan of attack in order to hit all of the speakers you want to see.

If you’re unsure whether a speaker is a good fit for your goals, carve out a bit of time to do some due diligence. Review his or her site, to get a better handle on previous speaking experience, overall topics and other long-form content that sheds light on their level of expertise.

Better yet- run a search to see if you can find a sample speaking video, which will give you a clearer idea of his or her speaking style.

Once you’ve outlined your proposed schedule, take a step back and ask yourself:

  • Is it well-rounded enough?
  • Am I putting myself in a position to meet my goals?
  • Am I missing any other opportunities as a result of attending one or more of these sessions?

And while you can go in confidently with a plan in place, don’t also be afraid to improvise. You may get a last-minute recommendation from a colleague that’s too good to pass up.

Seek out chapter speakers

If you’re in a position to bring education to your own NACE chapters, Experience is a prime opportunity to sift through some of the best of the best. Create a shortlist of interesting speakers and spend some time observing each of them in their natural environment. Pay attention to how they engage with the audience, not just during the talk but before and after as well. Were they on time? What sort of offerings did they provide at the end? Note their energy, too — do they move around the room or stick to the podium?

You’ll also want to assess their slides — are they organized or messy? Do they have quality graphics? Overall, does it look like they invested a lot of time and effort into their presentation? Keep in mind that many conferences require a template, but you can still determine whether they made the most of what they had. At the end of the day, you know your group best and should be able to determine who is a fit.

Whether you’re attending Experience for your own personal education or scouting talent for your chapter, don’t be afraid to reach out to the speaker with questions afterward. The conversation can always continue, so don’t feel discouraged if the Q&A time is limited.

We’ll be digging into this topic further in a webinar on the 27th of this month, so tune in to ensure you’re fully immersed for NACE Experience!


Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. She is a long-time NACE member and member of the national education committee. More recently, she launched WeddingIndustrySpeakers.com, a go-to resource for in-demand event industry educators.

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Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast.

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