Safety Awakening – “It’s Time To Change The Safety Conference Format”

July 1, 2015 No Comments

I’ve participated in state and national safety conferences for over 40 years.  Today’s safety conferences are not as effective as they were before the year 2,000!

These days, conference attendees are often distracted by their mobile devices.  Some spend much of their time in conference presentations on their smart phones texting, surfing the net, or playing computer games.

Those presenters who are unfortunate enough to have time slots before lunch (or in the late afternoon) will likely see many attendees walk out early to get a head start on lunch (or the evening’s festivities).

These trends are not easily changed.  I doubt if any conference organizer would either ban mobile devices or forbid leaving sessions early.

The caliber of presenter at safety conferences has gone down too!  Many conference organizers (e.g. the ASSE) refuse to pay non-keynote presenters (or even reimburse their travel expenses).  In this economy, many businesses, colleges, and entrepreneurs can no longer afford to foot the bill for their employees to make presentations at safety conferences.  So, safety conferences tend to get second-tier speakers who are more concerned about promoting their products and services then in educating conference attendees. 

In today’s high-tech world it’s time to rethink how we conduct safety conferences.  I’ve participated in live conferences in Africa from my office here in Wisconsin via Skype. These Africa presentations over the Internet were just as effective and interactive as my in-person presentations!    

Webinars are another format that can be just as effective and interactive as traditional safety conferences (and a whole lot cheaper).  Without having to pay for their own travel expenses, more top-tier speakers would be willing to participate in a webinar then in an on-site conference.  Attendees can enter and leave webinars at will without interrupting anyone.  If something is not understood during a webinar, it can be reviewed at a later time.  

It’s time to re-think the format that’s being used for state and national safety conferences.  Let’s apply 21st century technology to this tired forum from the last century. 

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