Have you been to a professional conference lately?

Why were professional conferences developed? My guess is as a means of efficiently delivering professional development to a large group of people at once. It was a one-stop shop for confirming regulations, gathering new knowledge, gaining motivation, and meeting like-minded people. In our information-rich society, we can click a button to gather data, learn tidbits, and communicate with people across the globe. Has this surge of information and social media changed the image of conferences? Is attending conferences a thing of the past?

If I was asked last year, do you plan on attending a conference this year? I would likely have said, I don’t have time. However, I ended up attending five. Yes, five conferences within six months! I do not share this to boast, but am truly shocked myself. Why would I attend so many and was there value? I should provide a bit of explanation. One was associated to a presentation and another was a result of being part of the planning committee. This still leaves three, which does seem like a high number of conferences to attend. Yet, I will tell you that I would do it all again! Below are some visual takeaways.


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All of the conferences that I invested my time and resources were associated with different parts of my personal and career development. Although so much information is available at the touch of a button, I don’t make the time or space to focus on it. Do you?

In particular, I was enriched by attending a professional conference with engaging topics. I was stretched by participating in the planning of our college faculty development conference. Moreover, I was fulfilled from attending an empowerment conference and an alumni conference.

Personally, I found there is a difference in sharing a space with others, engaging in conversation, and being outside of my comfort zone. Honestly, I did not gain new knowledge, but I gathered many amazing stories and developed new connections.  Considering the importance of a strong network, I would say I have been able to develop a deeper network. This in turn offers opportunities to build deeper relationships with people having shared interests.

Below are some links to communication related conferences in order of career focus:

So I ask you, have you been to a professional conference lately? If you have found a good conference, please share the conference name in the comments.  If your answer is no, consider finding one that connects with your personal or career goals. You might be surprised how a conference colleague might become part of your inner-circle.

Posted by Patty Goodman, Ed.D., Faculty

Whats’s on your must-read org comm list?

I find that staying abreast of trends in a dynamic field like organizational communication seems, at times, hopeless. The first challenge is that there are so many moving parts!

Consider, for instance, digital media. It seems like every week a new digital medium emerges, taking the communication world by storm. I’m still coming to grips with Facebook and Twitter as organizational communication tools!

Add to this a plethora of information sources: online newsletters, blogs, consulting reports, white papers, vendors pushing their best and brightest ideas. In this kind of environment, how do you separate the proverbial wheat from the chaff?

Where to begin? I’ve found that registering for a few information sources that I can rely upon for substantive and timely content is the key.

At the top of my list is the online McKinsey Quarterly, published by McKinsey & Company, the global management consulting firm serving businesses, NGOs, and nonprofits.


The Quarterly combines insights from McKinsey with ideas from other world-leading experts and practitioners. Content is organized in broad categories such as industries, business functions, and global themes.

The target audience is also broad, including executives at major corporations, professionals representing a wide range of functional responsibilities — and, yes, graduate students! McKinsey’s research on the consumer decision journey, for instance, has fundamentally changed the way I — and many of my students — look at marketing communication.

As communicators, we face the challenge of keeping up not only with trends in the communication field, but also with what’s happening in the business and nonprofit world. Business models, for example, are changing rapidly with the advent of digital technologies, and that has implications for the way we communicate with both internal and external stakeholders.

All the Quarterly’s articles and multimedia content are available free of charge at the site and you can sign-up for email alerts.

What’s at the top of your organizational communication reading list!

Posted by Carl Zangerl, Ph.D., Faculty