Have you ever listened to a lecture so compelling, you hung onto every word?

I have. In March, I attended the South by Southwest Music Conference and Festival (SXSW) in Austin, Texas.

There, I heard inventor Ray Kurzweil speak about “Expanding Our Intelligence Without Limit.” The room where he was presenting was full that I had to go to an overflow room where his talk was being streamed. That area was completely silent, except for Ray’s voice. At one point, the feed froze for a split second, and everyone gasped, terrified they’d missed something.

In the 11 years I’ve attended financial industry events, I’ve never seen this happen.

Instead, I see people attending just to get CE credits, breakfast or lunch, or because they’re obligated to go. Because the event’s usually free, attendees often sneak out or spend the whole meeting looking at a smartphone.

Why does this happen? In many cases, those who are providing, funding or finding education opportunities are measuring the wrong metric. People will be adamant that sessions qualify for CE, but won’t care if the material is useful, or whether the presenter can disseminate the material. That’s bad, because if the information is useful and presented well, it should stick with the advisor longer than the credits.

So why hasn’t the industry changed its approach? In part, because product manufacturers provide a lot of education, even though that’s not their main mission. Instead, they should strive to be the conduit to those whose skill sets do align with educating advisors. You’ll get far more praise, business, and interest by providing practical information from quality presenters. When advertising such education, focus on why a topic is compelling, not the CE credits.

The other side of the coin is advisors: We want useful, entertaining material, but we don’t want to spend a penny for the privilege. So we must be prepared to pay for enjoyable sessions that leave us with great value and new skills.

If both education providers and advisors change attitudes, you may soon attend a session from which you can’t turn away.

For useful, practical (and free) CE credits, go to www.cecorner.ca