Good student 2 - SmOn the blog yesterday, I argued that online training materials helped learners—and especially high-achievers—prepare for class. As it happens, many professionals (not just those who sign up for continuing education courses) are interested in lifelong learning. These individuals are likely to attend your association’s annual meeting and represent a very good reason why you should offer online conference materials.

When you give registrants online access to your conference materials, you allow them the opportunity to make informed decisions on how to spend time at the annual meeting. They can read abstracts behind the sessions they plan to attend and build a personal itinerary on the content they find the most compelling.

All attendees will appreciate online conference materials. Every so often during the workday, you need a break from the task on hand. It’s healthy to make time to clear your mind from your work a little, and then return to it with a fresh perspective.

Personally, I spend this time reading articles about the association industry and tips for personal productivity and living a balanced, fulfilling life. If I were looking forward to a conference, however, I would spend those mini-breaks perusing online conference materials, learning about the speakers, and determining which sessions most interested me. Wouldn’t you?

Online conference materials are also important as a marketing tool. Members who haven’t yet decided whether they will attend your annual meeting can look online for information. Even a short preview of conference content would help potential attendees realize that they need to make the time to come. In fact, they can’t afford to miss it!

Attendees will also make good use of online conference materials after the meeting, poring over abstracts, posters, handouts, and other content to reflect on what they have learned and read about sessions they missed. In order for attendees to get the very most out of your association’s conference content, it’s essential to offer access to it before, during, and after the event. Logistically, it makes the most sense to distribute the content online.

Wherever members are on the spectrum—in their careers, in their decision-making process on attending the annual meeting, and in terms of dedication to their craft—online conference materials help them move forward. Make sure your association offers attendees the opportunity to learn more online.