How to Close a Conference: Appreciation vs. Affirmation Activity

Aug 29, 2023

What the Brain Remembers

The brain’s capacity to recall doesn’t necessarily expand over time. Reflecting on our recent experiences, our memory follows a certain curve, which has only a downward trajectory. I call this the Curve of Forgetting—so do learning scientists.  Drawing below compliments of my friend, Col Fink.

Once this discussion is finished, there’s an experience I encourage all of you to check out to counteract the curve of forgetting. Because the curve can be reset. For instance, if you remember a topic ten days later because of an email reminder, it can rejuvenate that memory. If done again after 30 days and 60 days, you might just retain that memory for a lifetime.

Cleaned Up Script of My Conference Closing Sequence

After my talk, I’ll be recording voice memos. If you have lingering questions from this summit — not the “aha” moments or calls to action, but genuine queries — please approach and speak into the microphone. This isn’t about associating the question with your identity; it’s about gathering and addressing them. Once we’re finished and you’ve asked all of your questions, maybe I’ll have that transcribed and we’ll do something cool with it.

Appreciation vs. Affirmation

I want to draw a distinction between appreciation and affirmation. Appreciation is thanking someone for their actions, like thanking Joe for cleaning. “Hey, Joe. Thanks for sweeping the floors.” 

Affirmation, on the other hand, is recognizing someone for who they are being during that doing. “Joe, thanks for your attention to detail in always keeping this place clean.” Affirmation delves deeper, appreciating the character behind the deed.

For example, acknowledging Mo’s role in facilitating this great panel is appreciated. But praising Mo’s authenticity and conviction during the panel, making it feel intimate despite the large audience, is affirmation.

When you receive an affirmation, the most authentic response is a simple “thank you.”

How to Close a Conference

As we wrap up, I challenge each of you: Find someone you connected with during this summit. Look them in the eye and affirm them for who they are, not just what they did or said. Often, we either downplay compliments or reflexively offer one in return. But today, let’s genuinely receive and give affirmations.

If someone affirms you, reply in one of three ways:

  • Thank you.
  • Thank you. I liked hearing that. Can you tell me more? 
  • Thank you. Can you write that down in a letter and send it to my boss?

Lastly, instead of traditional applause, let our closing sound be that of voices offering affirmations. It’s been a joy to be with you all. Safe travels back home, and don’t forget about the voice memo session if you have questions.