A lot is happening in the world of SCTF and I’m glad you’re back to hear about it! Coming in October is a free community event we host called the Keeping Our Kids Safe Conference. It’s an educational gathering with speakers, break-out groups, food and more. This conference is one of the most significant ways we educate and connect our community in Clark County.
Never attended a professional conference before? You’re in luck because today I want to eliminate as many barriers as I can and let you know what to expect. I dream of every seat in the auditorium filled so please share this post with your friends, family and colleagues!
After registering you’ll arrive the morning of, sign in and collect an agenda or program outlining the speakers and timeline of events. The program will tell you about the facility, whom is sponsoring/hosting the event and other helpful information. If you are attending on behalf of an organization you may need to hold on to this to bring back to your company for reimbursement of any expenses you accrue.
When you walk in you’ll notice a few things: usually they are in large buildings with tall ceilings. There’s often a flurry of movement and energy. For all the introverts: be prepared to have limited quiet time and multiple personal bubble invasions.
People attending professional conferences often come from diverse walks of life. Some choose to dress in their most fancy attire while others wear something nice yet comfortable. Some people will be wearing lanyards or badges representing their community/organization and others prefer to remain anonymous. Generally speaking, most people look nice and appear energetic or approachable. Pro-tip: you will both stand and sit for long stretches of time. Wear shoes that aren’t painful!
Conferences may feel isolating. People with excellent networking skills are attracted to these events but they are not the only people attending. You may think, “Wow, everybody knows each other and I’m the outsider,” but that isn’t true. Successful conferences bring people together from all parts of the community and it’s a great chance to introduce yourself to people outside of your circle. Find commonalities and share resources. Pro-tip: if you are representing a business or organization I’d recommend bringing business/contact cards that you can give away. There will be many opportunities to do so.
While conferences are excellent networking opportunities, it’s also perfectly acceptable to attend without speaking to anyone at all. Lots of people go purely to absorb information and opt-out of the social aspects. I like to say, “You do you,” meaning do what you’re comfortable with. Take healthy risks in putting yourself out there but ultimately look after your personal wellbeing and goals.
Conferences generally start with what’s called a keynote presentation. Keynotes are guest presenters of esteem or ranking in the larger community and are experts in the topic of the event. They give a longer motivational presentation to kick off the event and provide background on the overarching theme of the conference. Often times they also offer smaller presentations later on in breakout groups.
Breakout groups are common at conferences. After the keynote speaks and the host gives introductions, the entire audience will disperse in a giant mass of activity and head towards smaller, classroom sized rooms with guest presenters and workshops. At any given time during a conference, there could be multiple (3-6) workshops happening at once. Pro-tip: bring two notepads and three pens. You never want to run out of supplies in the middle of your favorite presentation!
Personal story: I recently attended a conference with multiple presentations happening at the same time. After my speaker began their presentation for our breakout group, the overhead intercom came on and the voice of the presenter from another room was accidentally broadcasting their entire speech to our group. My presenter had to talk OVER the intercom. I thus learned about cultural competency in prevention messaging + how to be an effective program manager at the same time. Needless to say it’s important you always have patience, give grace and expect the unexpected during huge events like this.
As you progress through the day it may be harder to remain energetic. These events are usually draining and presenters are aware of this. Having said that there is etiquette you should be aware of and follow as best you can in addition to the other pro-tips included in this post:
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The Keeping Our Kids Safe Conference is Friday October 13th (professional development) from 9am-4pm in Foster Auditorium at Clark College and Saturday October 14th (parent and family workshops) from 10am-3pm in the same location. We will have many presenters focusing on things like:
- Building community
- Boosting resiliency
- Suppressing gangs and violence
- How to create a youth council
- Youth Panel with youth in our programs
- Working with gang affected youth
I hope you can make it to the conference. Free lunch will be provided as well as many opportunities to connect with your fellow community members. Register on our website at www.safecommunitiestaskforce.org/keeping-our-kids-safe-conference.
Sending my best,
Christopher Belisle at SCTF