One of the great things about the supply chain and logistics industry is that there is no shortage of conferences to attend. You can literally spend the entire month of May traveling from conference to conference (mostly between Orlando and Las Vegas, with Dallas occasionally sprinkled in). The challenge is determining which conferences to attend among the many choices. Last year, I highlighted a few questions to ask yourself to help you evaluate the options; take a look at them again as you consider which conferences to attend this year.

For conference organizers, here are a couple of ideas to consider:

More Supply Chain Executive Keynotes, Less Motivational Speakers. Don’t get me wrong, I generally enjoy talks by motivational speakers, such as athletes, adventurers, and authors. I usually walk away inspired and energized by their stories. But the takeaways are often the same: always believe in your dreams; learn from your failures and don’t give up; teamwork, trust, and communication are vitally important; and so on. If I’m attending a conference to gain some practical knowledge and advice that I can use to improve my supply chain operations, then a keynote presentation by a senior supply chain executive at a leading manufacturing or retail company would be much more valuable than a presentation by a mountain climber or ex-football player. Of course, the value would ultimately depend on the quality of the content presented; the more details, the better.

More Question-Driven Conversations, Less PowerPoint Presentations. In most conference sessions, you spend the majority of the time listening to a speaker go through a PowerPoint presentation, with only a few minutes left at the end for questions. I would invert the format and limit prepared content to 10 minutes and devote the rest of the time to conversation driven by a knowledgeable moderator and questions from the audience. This is essentially the talk show model, and I find it more engaging, spontaneous, and insightful than listening to a long lecture, which is why guests on Oprah, Piers Morgan, and Jay Leno don’t come with PowerPoint presentations. Having a good moderator (“talk show host”) is important. I also recommend providing attendees with some content ahead of time (such as a white paper related to the session topic) so that they can come to the session prepared with questions.

Okay, here is a short list of supply chain and logistics conferences scheduled for this year. I have attended many of these conferences over the years, often as a speaker, and they all offer great learning and networking opportunities.

Vendor Conferences

Industry Conferences

Are there other events you would recommend? Any other ideas for conference organizers to enhance the value of their events? Post a comment and let us know.

(Note: Most of the vendors mentioned above are ARC clients and/or Logistics Viewpoints sponsors).

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