Where Science Meets Instructional Design

What I’ll miss most about this year’s LTEN Annual Meeting

By Michele Mangiafico

When the decision to cancel the Life Sciences Trainers and Educators Network (LTEN) Annual Meeting was delivered I was disappointed, but not surprised …

The LTEN event is one I look forward to every year, as it’s the only time our team is fully immersed in an event with our customers, vendor partners, and competition – over 1,000 industry representatives accelerating the learning curve together.

If you haven’t attended one of these meetings, let me fill you in. LTEN typically hosts their annual meetings at Gaylord Hotel properties that are huge resorts full of shops, restaurants, and entertainment facilities that are so much more stimulating than a typical conference space. The first thing I usually do is take photos of the signature atriums from the balcony to brag to my family back home. After settling into my room, I make my way to the exhibit hall to help my team set-up our exhibit stand. Our marketing team always plans for a fun interactive experience that we can enjoy sharing with our clients. Will it be another round of miniature golf or an AR scavenger hunt? I am a terrible putter, but I have a blast setting-up our customers for competition and keeping track of the leaderboard. I also love to walk around during set-up to see what our competitors have planned. I chat my way around the exhibit hall, searching for new inspiration and picking up booth giveaways to take home as souvenirs for my kids.

The meeting kicks off with the Monday night “Welcome Bash” when all attendees gather into the exhibit hall to reconnect and circulate through mini-receptions hosted at each exhibit booth with specialty cocktails and regional appetizers. This introduction is such a great ice breaker for newcomers and I love that networking is really reinforced as the cornerstone of the meeting. This is probably the event I will miss the most, as the need for physical distancing has the social butterfly in me craving the day that we can all come together again in a 10 x 20-foot space to shake hands and hug with those whom we’ve grown to know not only as customers but as friends.

As much as I enjoy the social culture of LTEN, I’m just as excited about what I learn there. Tuesday morning starts with remarkable keynote speakers who always leave a lasting impression. I can easily recall the messages of past presenters: Shawn Achor’s advocacy of the happiness advantage, Amy Cuddy’s power-posing, Chef Jeff Henderson’s story of reinvention, and Melissa Stockwell’s perseverance in the face of adversity. These speakers paired with our industry workshop activities always leave me inspired. While we can still be an audience for these sessions with a virtual platform, what I will truly miss most is the buzz of the live meeting and the unique community that leaves me re-energized.

With so many events cancelled this year, and even more shifting to virtual formats, I can’t help but wonder what next year’s annual meeting will look like. I’m excited to see that LTEN has planned for us to reunite in Colorado for the 2021 Annual Meeting, which happens to be their 50th Anniversary.

I hope you’ll meet me in the Rockies where we can raise a glass to celebrate!

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