Episode 65: What’s the Difference Between a Retreat and a Conference?
Transcript Episode 65
Welcome to the 100 degrees of entrepreneurship podcast the show for purpose-driven entrepreneurs who want to get inspired to step outside of your comfort zone, expand it to your purpose and grow your business in a big way. I’m your host, Stephanie Skryzowski, a globe trotting CFO whose mission is to empower leaders to better understand their numbers, to grow their impact and their income. Let’s dive in.
Hey, everybody. Welcome back to 100 degrees of entrepreneurship as usual. I am so glad you’re here. And I just want to ask you a question if you are here, if you have been a listener since the very beginning. Thank you so much. If you are a new listener, welcome. I think you’re going to like what you’re about to hear.
I would love to ask you right now really quickly, pause this episode, pop over to apple podcasts and just leave us a quick review if you’re enjoying the show. This is super important for podcasters to get their show out there, get it heard by more ears, get more listeners. And I also love the feedback. So if there’s something that you really, really loved,
let me know, and I will do more of that for you. So anyway, let’s move on to what we’re talking about today. So if you have thought in your business about investing in a conference or a retreat, this is episode for you. We’re going to break down a little bit about conferences and retreats and what the difference is. And first I want to just make sure that you know that these are business expenses, okay. These are investments that you are making in your business.
And so be sure to record them as such and make sure you know, that these are business expenses. And so if going to a conference or going on a retreat is something that you want to do, make sure that you’re including it in your forecast, okay. I feel like we can get such huge value when we do get such huge value. I’m going to share about that value from conferences and retreats. And so it’s definitely a worthwhile investment to make sure that you are forecasting for.
Okay, so I am currently like, I’m literally in a hotel room right now. I’m recording this from a conference. I just wrapped up the mom 2.0 summit, over the last few days and it has been amazing. And I used to think that conferences are not for me. I am an introvert to the max, my friends. You may not think so, but a few hours of peopling and I’m like, get me to my hotel room where I can just sit in silence.
And so these last three days have been a little bit intense. But I just wanted to share with you a little bit about my experience. Thinking about conferences. So I was here to speak. I spoke on Monday, the first day of this conference, a 30 minute session on how to build a strong financial foundation for, to set yourself up for massive growth in your business.
We have probably, I don’t know, I’m guessing maybe 80 people in the room or so, and it was awesome. And I really was intentional about meeting people afterwards about chatting with people afterwards, wearing my name tag so people could see, introduce themselves. I honestly, I don’t know if this is silly or if this is smart, but I made a goal to make 10 new contacts during this retreat.
And I am really happy to say I met this goal, and these 10 new contacts. So not all my, like, you know, new best friends. We didn’t go out drinking until two o’clock in the morning together. A lot of it was just like quick conversations in between sessions or, Hey, I want to have you on my podcast or Hey, let’s collaborate or connect in this way. So I made 10 connections and I’m really excited about that.
And so, what we’re going to talk about today is actually the difference between conferences and retreats. What I was going to say was I used to think that I was not a conference person because I am such an introvert. And because I get uncomfortable, like going up to somebody that I’ve never met before and just saying, hi, I’m Stephanie, who are you? What do you do? Where are you from?
Like, that is not me naturally. So I used to think big conferences were not for me until this conference. Honestly, first of all, everyone was so nice. There was an app that made a really easy to connect with people in a way that didn’t feel like quite so scary. And I was speaking. And so when you’re speaking at a conference, like people will naturally come up to you, which like, if somebody comes up to me, I’m like, I’m ready to talk to you.
All day long, like that’s great, but if it’s me initiating, that’s where I get scared. So anyway, I used to think that conferences were not for me until this conference and then setting that goal of just making 10 connections, right. And they don’t have to be, like I said, don’t have to be BFFs forever, but just like 10 connections, 10 people that I can say, okay, now I know them. I did not know them before.
And here’s our connection. So that really changed everything for me. I want to get to the heart of what we’re talking about today and that’s conferences versus retreats. So I really think that a conference has a very different vibe than a retreat, right? They both have a purpose in our business, but I really think it’s important to know what you’re getting when you sign up for a conference or when you sign up for a retreat so that you can really make the best decision on how to invest in your business to serve what you actually need, right.
Like at different points in your business, you need a conference. Like you just want all of the knowledge that you can get, you want to learn. You want intake, right. Learning from lots and lots of different people and really, like expanding, expanding your viewpoint, expanding your network. And at other times you may want to be more subdued, right. And more reflective and have more time to just think, and that’s where a retreat is going to serve you, you know?
So really thinking about what you need in your business, maybe you feel like, oh my gosh, I’ve been locked up for two years, with COVID and so I just want to get out and meet all the people. Like all my extroverts out there y’all are raising your hands, aren’t you. Get yourself to a conference. So anyway, conferences often have lots of attendees, right? Hundreds, thousands at this conference that I just went to, there were probably several hundred people there.
And so you’re going to get a much more diverse group of people with more diverse businesses or industries or just the work that they do is going to be very diverse. So with this mom 2.0 summit that I was at this week, the common thread was that pretty much everybody, there was a parent. But the business is varied. There were lots of like content creators and bloggers, but then there were also other consultants and coaches and podcasters and lots of different people doing very different things.
But there was a common thread. And so we often find that at a conference. So even though there might be hundreds or thousands of people, there’s likely going to be a common thread. Maybe that common thread is as a generic as we’re all business owners, or maybe it’s a we’re all podcasters or we’re all course creators or whatever. But there’s often some sort of common thread.
On the flip side, a retreat is definitely going to have a lot fewer attendees, right. You’re probably going to be in a more intimate group with maybe a dozen people or less. You know, it’s a much more, much more intimate experience. So again, what does your business need right now? What do you need right now as person? So that’s something to think about. Conferences often have pretty jam packed schedules.
So yesterday, for example, I showed up at the retreat ballroom at 7:00 AM for the very first session. And I finished at about 4:30 and there were breaks in between, you know, there’s 30 minutes in between each session to kind of you know, get some water and mingle and look at the exhibitors and things like that. But it’s often a jam packed schedule and sometimes that’s what you want, right? Like you want to digest all of the content possible in as short a period of time as possible, right?
Like just give me all the info. Yesterday alone, I learned about publishing a book, I learned about podcasting, I learned about having a speaking agent, I learned about manifestation, right? Like those were, and I think there was a couple more sessions. I can’t even remember at this point. And so you’re basically cramming a lot into a short period of time and then giving yourself time to digest afterwards.
That is my plan for today. The flip side retreats are often more spacious, right? There’s often more time built in for reflection, for introspection, maybe even just for like relaxation. So the content side of a retreat is maybe not quite so heavy. So again, if you feel like, okay, I kind of know what I need to do, or I just need to think for three seconds about what I need to do or how I want to do it. A retreat is probably for you. That’s probably the investment that you want to make.
Again, if you’re in maybe a business building phase and you just want to learn all the things, go to a conference. What I would recommend, so if you can add it into your budget, into your forecast, plan an extra day at the conference location before you go home. That way you have time to digest. That’s exactly what I’m going to do today. I’m going to go through all of my notes from the conference and I’m going to plan out what my next steps are. Who I need to contact, what I want to do, so that when I go home, when I get back to work in my office, I know exactly what I’m doing and all of the information that I learned this week is not gone, right?
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Conferences often have many speakers and sometimes simultaneous sessions, right? So like at 3:00 PM you could attend session one in this room and, or you could attend session two in this other room. So often you have to pick and choose what sessions are going to attend and what sessions you’re going to pass, right. You can’t often can’t attend everything.
Sometimes there are like main sessions that everybody’s part of in the main ballroom. But often there are simultaneous sessions with a lot of different speakers. So again, an opportunity to really hear from diverse voices, but you’re probably not going to be able to take in all of the content from the entire conference because things are happening at the same time.
And it can’t be in two places at once, my friend. On the flip side, retreat may have just one person leading it, or may have a couple of different speakers, but likely everything’s going to be happening at the same time. So the content is probably going to be a bit more focused on a particular topic or particular industry or something really more specific, and everybody’s going to attend every session.
So you’re not going to miss anything, right. But there’s not going to be like 50 different sessions that you can choose from. So probably a bit more focused at a retreat. Everyone’s going to be in the same room together. So you’re all kind of going through the journey at the same time. So conference sessions often don’t involve a lot of interaction between the attendees, right?
The format is more like a speakers on stage speaking to you and you’re learning, you’re taking in the information, taking notes, whatever. So the interaction between the attendees really happens in between sessions. And we talk, I totally saw that this week. So the session would wrap up and everyone just makes a beeline for the hallway, is chatting over coffee, chatting on the way to the bathroom, chatting with the different vendors that were exhibiting things.
And just that was your opportunity to meet people. There was very little, if any interaction actually, during the sessions, it was all like pay attention to the speaker, take the notes and you know, that’s what we’re doing. On the flip side a retreat often involves more interactive activities through each session. So any retreats that I’ve been to often we’ve broken off into like little partnerships to talk about what we just learned or to talk about brainstorm or work on different problems together or mastermind where one person shares challenge and everybody else sort of chimes in to help them through that challenge and, you know, help them problem solve things like that.
So there’s a lot more interaction, actually digging into your business with other attendees at a retreat versus a conference. I think a conference is like a lecture, right? Like in college or in high school, the sort of format of education is really lecture-based right. And that’s mostly what you’re getting at conferences. So, like I said before, conferences are often centered around a broad theme. Like social media marketing or entrepreneurship. Sessions are focused on a more narrow topic related to that broad theme, right.
And on the flip side, retreats are often more narrowly focused and there’s time for integrating new ideas. Conferences are very content heavy. So I’ve talked about having a lot of different speakers, having a lot of different sessions. So lots of content, content heavy lecture focused. Whereas retreats are really implementation and execution heavy, right.
In other words, there’s more time to implement new ideas into your business right away without necessarily having to schedule that extra day on the end of a conference like I’m doing right now. I feel like conferences are an extrovert to dream. So I love conferences, but I’m an introvert. And so by the end of the day, I am burnt out. Literally, as soon as that session wrapped up yesterday, I was in an Uber three minutes later, getting back to my hotel.
I did not stay at the conference hotel. So I was in my room, like 15 minutes after the conference ended. I was not one to stay around and chat. So conferences, extrovert’s dream. As an introvert, I still got what I needed out of it. I loved the experience, I’m so glad I went. But I feel like overall, a retreat is more my style. I really like building closer relationships with fewer numbers of people.
That’s just kind of how I roll in my life. And I like having that spaciousness and quiet time and, sort of distraction-free time built into my experience. At the end of the day, every single day this week, I literally came back to the hotel by four or five, six o’clock at night, and I was sleeping by 8:00 PM. Like that’s what the conference does to me. So again, I love it, but a retreat experience, I feel like is built more for introvert’s.
I don’t know. I think extroverts can really do well in a retreat as well, because there is still that interaction with people that actually, you’re not getting during a conference session, right. So I think both a conference and a retreat have their place for all kinds of people. But I think it’s important to just sort of know what you’re getting yourself. So like I said, conferences have their place.
Retreats have their place for both introverts and extroverts, no matter what kind of business you’re running, no matter what your challenges are, no matter where you are in your business journey. I think there’s so much to be gained from both a conference and a retreat. But I just want you to kind of think about that as you’re planning the rest of this year, right?
Like do you have any conferences or retreats planned into your forecast that you’re going to go to? Often the summer is kind of a quiet time for business events like this. It will pick back up in the fall. Again, I feel like that’s when I’m speaking in a number of other conferences. September, October, November, it’s going to get busy again. And so think about that. Like these are amazing opportunities, both conferences and retreats to expand your knowledge, to expand your business in a big way.
Whether it’s through the information that you learn, the ideas that you get when you’re there and exposed to a whole new opportunity, or maybe it’s through connections that you make at a conference or a retreat with different people you can partner with or learn from, or be inspired by, right? So if you have not ever attended a conference or a retreat for your business, think about that. Look around, find something that looks really interesting to you.
I really encourage you to go. Every experience I’ve ever had attending a conference or retreat has expanded my business in some way, shape or form. It’s one of the most worthwhile investments that I’ve made in my business. And I’ve done a lot of them over the past, almost seven years. I’ve traveled around the country to attend and speak at conferences. I’ve gone to several different mastermind retreats, and I’ve also done a bunch of solo retreats.
And we do have an episode about what a solo business retreat, what that is like. And so listen to that episode, I’m looking for it. Yeah, episode number 20, why taking a solo business retreat is a solid investment. So I stand by the fact that business retreats conferences are an amazing investment in your business and yourself. And so build that into your financial forecast if you haven’t already and explore.
And I challenge you to maybe find one event that you can go to this year. I think it’s going to open up your mind in a brand new way and to really give you that next thing for your business. So I hope this episode was super helpful. Like I said, I have lots of experience with conferences and retreats and I just know what a solid investment they are.
So if you have a good conference or a retreat that you’re going to, send me a DM over on Instagram. I am always looking for new events to explore, to potentially speak at. Speaking at events is one of my most favorite things that I want to do more of. So send me a note over on Instagram @stephanie.skry I’ll catch you next time, friends.
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Transcript for Episode 65