How To Maximize Your Learning at Events

As a leader you probably find yourself attending many meetings, conferences, retreats, and networking events. These external connections serve a crucial function in your role as a spokesperson — and learner — on behalf of your organization.

Sometimes I find myself in a season of back-to-back events that reflect commitments I have made to speak, sponsor, or support others in their leadership efforts. It’s tempting to go through the motions: to step out of the meeting to find a quiet place with an internet connection so I can jump on a conference call with people who are elsewhere, or attend to other pressing work.

Last week I was in Hong Kong. In the next two weeks I will be in Ethiopia and Amsterdam. I’ll be with an amazing group of talented creatives and digital strategists at Indigitous events.

It is quite possible to squander these opportunities to learn and grow. I want to avoid that mistake.

Today I’m in Poland at the Conference. The program guide contains an excellent tool, adapted from Steve Moore of MissioNexus, to help leverage events for maximum learning. I want to share these with you.

Five Questions to Maximize Your Learning Experience

1. What is the most important IDEA I need to CONSIDER?

2. What is the most important RELATIONSHIP I need to PURSUE?

3. What is the most important CONVERSATION I need to HAVE?

4. What is the most important DECISION I need to MAKE?

5. What is the most important ACTION I need to TAKE?

What tips would you add?

By Ken

Dr. Ken Cochrum (DMin, Bethel University) is Vice President of Global Digital Strategies at Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ) in Orlando, Florida. An avid cyclist and aspiring guitarist, he also holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering from The University of Texas and a Masters of Arts in Biblical Studies from Dallas Theological Seminary. He recently co-founded, a movement passionate about connecting people to Jesus using digital strategies. He previously served as vice president of Cru’s student-led movements worldwide. He and his wife Ann spent 13 years in East Asia where they raised their two children. Ken blogs regularly at


  1. Very helpful.

    In addition (to this great list) I often I find myself asking (when listening to talks/sermons/messages)

    “What is the most important TRUTH (about God or myself) that I need to CLING to?’

  2. Thank you! I’m definitely using these and also I’ll ask myself: “WHO needs me?”

    Since I’m also preparing lesson plans today, this is a godsend for me. I’m going to include the idea, decision, and action questions on the training handouts.

  3. Great stuff! I normally write down a list of 5-10 questions I can ask leaders at conferences. This helps me make the most of opportunities I have around them.

  4. One example that I ask often to older leaders is “What skills and character qualities would you recommend a younger leader like me focus on?” “What advice would you give your 30 year old self if you could go back in time?”

    There are a couple others by topic such as time management, building a healthy team, books etc. I usually take some time to write a bunch of specific ones based on what is currently going on before a conference. It’s such a waste to hang with wise people and not ask good questions!

  5. Ken, for me “Who needs to come to this event/conference with me?” to share in the material and have lasting learning back in my natural environment.

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