This year’s Qualitative Research conference was held in Savannah, Georgia, known for, among many other things, being a picturesque city filled with history and beauty. It was all that, and more. The title of the 2019 conference was “Charting Your Best Course,” offering sessions that centered across themes related to methodology, business building, refreshing conventional approaches, learning new technologies, and hearing the latest from thought leaders — in an all-too-quick 3-day whirlwind experience.
The keynote address, “The Neuroscience of Memorable Messages,” was engaging, funny, enlightening, and practical. Given how challenging it is to get listeners’ attention in the 21st century, the keynote speaker, cognitive neuroscientist Carmen Simon, discussed how important it is (and how) to craft messages that will be remembered amid a slew of others competing for audience attention.
There were several standouts in the breakout sessions. One was a practical session by Kayte Hamilton about writing proposals to win business and eliminate bad habits that get in the way. Another was Allison Rak’s session on hacks and techniques to scale your business. This one contained a surprise crowd pleaser when the speaker demonstrated a particular hack called Plickers — an assessment tool used in the education field that “magically” surveys a group of people and provides instant answers by scanning answer cards the students (or respondents) hold up. Kate Watson’s session on how to fit massive client expectations into a viable result and deliverable also was invaluable in terms of its sheer practicality. Finally, an illuminating session was one on cross-cultural representation in research by Zebra Strategies‘ Denene Rodney and Sharon Arthur. This session highlighted the need for being “curious but not judgmental” when listening to target audience members from all backgrounds.
Every QRCA conference provides a little bit of choice tyranny, in the sense that there are so many good topics to choose from and sessions to attend that it is near impossible to get everything in a single go. Fortunately, they are recorded for download at a later time. As always, there was the Collegiality factor (making new friends and colleagues, reconnecting with old ones), the Exploration factor (dining in local restaurants, sampling local cuisine), and the Fun factor (winning a vendor giveaway, like I did for the first time ever!).
Then, there was the added benefit of being in a city that’s known to be one of the most haunted cities in America. I stole away for a brief tour of the “Ghosts and Gravestones” of Savannah one evening, which I highly recommend to anyone planning to visit. The night-time trolley tour took us to a haunted mansion owned by Andrew Low and the Perkins & Sons ship chandlery, described as a general store for ship workers.
And while I didn’t make it to the famous Bonaventure Cemetery (famously pictured on the cover of the esteemed book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil), I did walk to one more geographically convenient — the 1750 Colonial Park Cemetery.
Oak trees covered in Spanish Moss surround and weave through the grounds of the cemetery, which has gravestones of many notable historical figures, including soldiers from the Revolutionary War.
It was a memorable event, with plenty of new memories to carry into the coming year.