You Just Attended the SWPP Annual Conference. Now Increase Your Chances to Come Back Next Year!

By Steven Lowe, Trupanion

If you just returned from the 2023 SWPP Annual Conference in Nashville, I’m sure you are already thinking about how you can convince your leaders to send you again next year. Here are some ideas for how to present what you learned at the SWPP Annual Conference and add value to improve your chances of getting sent again. Note that this is applicable to any conference you attend!

The Gist:

  • Go to the conference with ideas in mind, otherwise pull from a great session or sessions.
  • Set a presentation date with your leadership team for no later than 1 month after you get back.
  • Organize and type up all of your notes within a week or two after you get back.
  • Put a concise presentation deck together (with pictures!).
  • Present to your leadership team!
  • Implement what you intended to from the event. If there are financial or other benefits, let your leadership team know.
  • Write down any realized ROI so you’re ready with a pitch to get sent to the conference again next year.

The Details:

Go to the conference with ideas in mind, otherwise pull from a great session or sessions.

If you’re lucky, your leadership team will have sent you to the conference with some things they want you to focus on (like forecasting fundamentals, or outsourcing, or “did anything change in the way people schedule as a result of COVID/work-from-home?”).

If there wasn’t anything specific, come up with a couple of things that you think you could use to do your job better. If it’s your first time at the conference, it could be as simple as just trying to get your bearings and seeing how other WFM people do things. You can attend any session at the SWPP Conference and learn something! Just make sure to write some notes down; although you can get the presentations from the conference, you can’t always get the spoken pearls of wisdom as easily.

If you’ve been to a few conferences, try to bring a specific business problem you need help solving. You may figure it out through the sessions but if you’re lucky it will force you to network with other attendees. Taking the time to talk to your WFM peers can lead to random discussions which may even lead you towards solving a problem you hadn’t thought about before the conference!

Set a presentation date with your leadership team for no later than 1 month after you get back.

It’s really important to set an achievable but aggressive presentation date with your leadership team when you get back. It will help push you to get the presentation done and not put it off. The longer it takes, the higher the possibility it will slip through the cracks altogether. It can also be hard to remember the details as clearly the more time passes.

You should make sure to put your leader and their leader on the invite (and anyone else involved with sending you to the conference), as well as any other stakeholders you’d like. Including your WFM teammates or even some of the operations team can help you spread the knowledge and lead to some good discussion.

Organize and type up all of your notes within a week or two after you get back.

This one speaks for itself. Even if you have good notes, organizing them can help you relive the conference and remind you of what speaks strongly enough to you to present on it. This can be a great time to reach out to any of the speakers that put emails on their decks (or use LinkedIn!) if you have further questions for them. Just because the conference is over for the year doesn’t mean that networking and knowledge sharing have to be over.

Put a concise presentation deck together (with pictures) and present!

Your presentation should show that you were engaged in the conference, took away something that will demonstrate a return on investment (ROI), and impart the fun you had at the conference.

To get that across in a way that is engaging for the attendees, try to make it short and interactive:

  • List three or so sessions you went to that really spoke to you. Talk about what made the sessions jump out for you (was it a great speaker, the interactivity between the speaker and the audience, a new concept you hadn’t thought of, or proof that you are doing something the same way as many of your peers?).
  • List lessons you learned that you intend to use as ROI for being sent to the conference. Keep this number smaller to improve your chances of being able to do what you say. Add an implementation plan here if you can!
  • Put some pictures in the deck so people can see what Nashville looks like, what the conference looked like, and any pictures you’ve got of you there! It helps people understand how it feels to be at a conference with hundreds of other WFM professionals (it’s not in fact dry at all!).


Try to make the scheduled presentation a “rock.” Don’t let excuses stop it from happening (sometimes you get back and business is ramping up or you have so much work from being gone that it takes a little while to get unburied). If your leadership team moves the presentation or can’t seem to make time work on their calendars, then do a couple presentations if needed. Or use one of your 1:1s (and a skip level meeting if you can) to run through your learnings really quickly to specific leaders and show them a few pictures. It’s OK if it ends up being a casual presentation, it just needs to happen.

During the presentation if you don’t get questions, try to ask for some toward the end: “Any questions on what it was like at the conference?” “Any other learnings you want to know about?” “Want to know more about how you can talk shop at Margaritaville?” Helping get the audience engaged will help your message get across.

Do your best at the presentation. That way you can add the most wow-factor for your leadership team. You also set the bar high for yourself for next year which forces you to get out of your comfort zone and work to get more out of the conference in following years.

Implement what you intended to. If there are any financial or other benefits let your leadership team know!

As you implement your learnings try to find a way to quantify the benefit. Will it make less transactions for your team? Faster transactions? New additional work that adds value through call center FTE reduction? Will it improve quality from your team?

You can usually work with your boss (or a finance-savvy member of your team) to quantify what the gains can be. Then check over time to make sure it happened. If what you attempted didn’t make any gains you can work with your team to see if your approach needs to be altered. If you feel totally stuck reach out to the SWPP members on the opt-in list! There are many highly-experienced people excited to help you out!

Lastly, save any notes on ROI you get (whether it be something you can put a dollar value to or learnings) so you’re ready for next year’s pitch to leadership for approval to go again!

Steven Lowe is Sr. Workforce Planning Analyst at Trupanion. He may be reached at