We’re just a few weeks out from the 2015 SHRM Annual Conference, happening this year from June 28th – July 1st in the mecca of all conference meccas, Fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada. Vegas tends to be rather polarizing as far as conference goers are concerned; most either love attending conferences there, or despise it. I’m personally in the “love it” camp, and am excited to be heading there for some learning, networking, reconnecting, and (of course) some fun on The Strip.
I’m also fortunate that for the third year in a row to be part of the official SHRM15 Blogging and Social Media Team. That means I have the distinct pleasure of attending as a voice for the conference, helping the spread the word about all of the great conference related happenings, learnings, and general goings on. I’ll be doing that through a combination of social media coverage and live tweeting of sessions, as well as coverage on this blog.
So what do we have in store for this year’s event, the ultimate annual gathering of HR practitioners and one of the crown jewels of the HR conference circuit?
Each day brings a different keynote speaker, typically big names who are brought in to inspire and motivate us as attendees to look beyond the day to day functions of our jobs and consider larger business and global issues and trends. They tend to fit into specific categories or types of speakers – usually the celebrity or political figure, CEO type, management/HR pundit (or author), and the motivational speaker (credit to fellow blogger Matthew Stollak for coining the archetypes). I’m not sure if this year’s fit exactly into those four categories, but it’s close. We’ll be hearing from legendary NCAA basketball coach of the Duke Blue Devils Mike “Coach K” Krzyzewski, New York Times bestselling author Marcus Buckingham, co-host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Mika Brzezinski, and celebrity surgeon and TV personality Dr. Mehmet Oz. Reactions to the Dr. Oz choice have been very mixed, and there’s been debate on social media regarding his relevance, so we’ll see where that one goes. I’ll be highlighting key messages from these speakers throughout the conference.
On a side note, originally slated to speak was Sheryl Sandberg, but after the recent sudden and tragic passing of her husband Dave Goldberg, she was soon after replaced with Mika Brzezinski. Though I would have loved to have the opportunity to hear her speak, my heart (and I’m sure the hearts of all SHRM15 attendees) goes out to her and the grief she’s enduring.
SHRM Annual offers over 200 concurrent sessions in six different tracks. Though I never seem to be able to squeeze in as many as I’d like to attend, I always make a point to catch at least a few. These sessions are typically where many of the practical tips, tricks, and lessons learned are shared, often by fellow practitioners or former practitioners. Two sessions of note involve speakers who are affiliated with the blog: Trish McFarlane, one of my co-founders, will be presenting with Steve Boese on “After the Contracts are Signed: Key to Successful HR Technology Implementation.” And contributing writer Donna Rogers will be teaming up with fellow SHRM15 blogger Dave Ryan to discuss “Running an HR Department of One.”
The Smart Stage
Making its debut last year at SHRM14 in Orlando, the Smart Stage (last year situated just outside of the Expo Hall) offers 15-18 minute TED-like talks given on a variety of topics, and conveniently grouped together in blocks of three to four sessions with breaks for Q&A in between. I had the opportunity to present on the Smart Stage last year, and feedback in general about the format was very positive. It was a quick and easy way to catch some very informative presentations on actionable topics; with the short talks grouped together, it’s an efficient way to soak in knowledge on various subjects all in one timeframe, helping you make the most of your time.
Conferences as large as SHRM Annual always offer numerous social opportunities, typically sponsored by various vendors. With this year’s conference location being Las Vegas, with its multitude of bars, restaurants, clubs, and other entertainment venues, I suspect it will be no exception. Information on such events tends to come out fast as furious in the weeks leading up to the conference, so inevitably we’ll begin to hear more soon. These events offer the perfect opportunity for additional networking, and a chance to get to know all of your new connections a little better outside the confines of a session room. I recommend seeking out the ones that sound most appealing to you and checking them out. And hey, you’ll probably even get a free drink and some appetizers as part of the deal!
So if you’re attending the conference, be sure to engage in all of the opportunities available to you. If you’re on Twitter, tweet along with the #SHRM15 hashtag and join in the discussion. Connect with me and my fellow bloggers for in the moment updates. And if you’re not able to be there, you can still follow along with conference happenings by following the hashtag and checking out updates here and from all of the official SHRM15 bloggers.
See you in Vegas!
About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR, SHRM-SCP has over 16 years of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, and learning & development, and currently works in talent acquisition and development in the retail grocery industry. She is one of the co-founders of Women of HR, and is currently the Editor of the site. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn.