10 Quick Hacks For a Better Conference Experience
To get the most from attending a conference, try out these quick hacks for a better conference experience:
1. Sit in the front row
When you attend a talk, it's always tempting to hide at the back. But if you sit at the front you'll hear and see better, and you are more likely to feel engaged. Plus, if you talk to the presenter later they are more likely to remember you.
2. Have business cards ready
If you're an academic it might feel silly to have business cards made. But actually, it's the easiest way to give your contact details to anyone who needs them. Have a stack printed and bring them with you to events, giving them to each person you talk to.
3. Write notes on business cards
A handy tip is to write notes about the person you are talking to on their business card if they give you one. That way, when you get home and look at the card you'll remember who gave it to you and what you were talking about.
4. Have a transport map to hand
You might need to travel a bit around the city for conference events, so be prepared by bringing a map of the local transport options either on paper or on your phone.
5. Eat in communal areas
Lunch is a great time for informal networking, but you're unlikely to meet anyone new if you spend your time eating with friends. Instead, sit in communal areas and make an effort to chat with people who sit nearby.
6. Carry snacks with you
Sometime you won't have time to stop for lunch, or the only options available to eat will be small items like sandwiches. Add in the fact that you'll be walking and on your feet a lot, and a conference can be a recipe for getting hungry and bad-tempered. Put a small snack like a bag of peanuts in your bag to stave off any hunger emergencies.
7. Turn your notes into a blog post
If you write notes during talks, posters, or panels, then don't let these insights go to waste. Once you get home, you can turn these notes into a blog post. This will benefit others who weren't able to attend the conference but can now read about it, and it will help you to remember the information better as well as giving you some content you can create.
8. Ask for copies of slides or posters
If you're really interested in a talk that you've attended and you don't want to forget any details, then you can ask the presenter for a copy of their slides or their poster. Not all speakers will be willing to give out their slides like this, but many will. This means you'll have all the notes you need to understand the topic. If a speaker doesn't have a copy available when you talk to them, you can email them after the conference is over to request an electronic copy.
9. Keep a timetable of events
At any conference, there will be a mix of events you don't want to miss: talks, posters, social functions, workshops, dinners, and more. To keep on top of everything and make sure you don't miss anything important, print out a copy of the conference timetable, or find the timetable in your conference handbook. Use a highlighter to mark any key events and their locations so you can always be in the right place at the right time.
10. Use the conference hashtags on social media
The way conferences work is changing, and nowadays most conferences have a specific hashtag for attendees to use. If you make notes or comments about the conference on social media, do use this hashtag so that other attendees can see your comments and can discuss them with you. This is also a nice way to make new networking contacts at busy conferences.
Attending a conference this spring? Feel underprepared? Well, take a look at our Conference Guidebook it covers all you need to to know!