Spring Time = Conference Time

Meghan Hatalla at IGNITE

Tomorrow I’m headed to See Change, an annual conference for visual communicators held at the University of Minnesota. I’m thinking about getting there, parking on campus, outfit to wear that can transition from rainy outdoor walk from the ramp to the location/comfortable to sit in all day…and I realize that this is the 4th conference I’ve been to in 2 weeks.

  • Minnebar (also presented)
  • Minnewebcon (UMN campus as well, coincidentally)
  • MnSCU ITS Conference (presented here, too, but a different talk than Minnebar)
  • See Change 

I’m lucky to have a boss who supports conferencing and to live in an area that also has a lots of conferences. So don’t take this post as complaining; I’m just realizing that conferencing is exhausting, especially for me and my INTJ-ness. I love meeting new people and chatting and formulating new ideas, but then I need to be alone and recharge. Knowledge hangovers are real. But here’s how I tend to transition from event to event:

  • Figure out transportation the night before
    When I was in Buffalo a few years ago, my hotel was a 2 miles from the conference center, and I thought I could just Uber it there and back. Wrong! Apparently Uber hadn’t hit Buffalo then. I wound up walking in October, which was a mite chilly. Always plan out your transportation ahead of time, whether it’s using public or figuring out which parking ramp to use.
  • Lay out the outfit(s)
    I’m terrible at changing my mind last minute when it comes to clothes, so I tend to choose a staple or two – pants/skirt and simple top – then layer on in the am as necessary. Someday I’ll get my closet down to capsule size…which will probably last, like 1 week, but it’s a dream. Anyways, layer smartly. Freeze babies, grab your cardigan; plantar fasci-istas, leave the heels at home and wear something that won’t have you limping at the end of the day.
  • Pack the essentials
    Plan for the worst. I try not to bring a laptop if I can help it (power stations might be iffy) so I plug in my iPad the night before. I bring a bag that can carry my necessaries – water bottle, moisturizer, iPad, charging bank (if you don’t have one, get one. Or two), wallet, cell phone, and conference itinerary. If there’s vendors, leave some room to grab swag (fingers crossed someone is giving away power banks).  Don’t forget your business cards!
  • Don’t try anything new beforehand
    By this, I mean mostly beauty regimens.  Rejuvenating face peels sound like a good way to relax the night before, but might take more time for the blotchy redness to go away. Unfortunately, I’m speaking from experience. I was presenting at the Elements Web Conference at Penn State and wanted that dewy glow prior…which resulted in caked on concealer.
  • Get on Twitter
    Weird advice, I know, but conference live tweets are my favorite tweets. It’s so interesting to see what others pick up on and how their interpretation might differ from yours. I tend to tweet more than take notes, and it’s easy enough to collate them at the end of the day. Plus, my wrist doesn’t hurt from writing.
  • You do you
    I tend to oscillate the spectrum at conferences: sometimes I’m a social butterfly, and other times I’m sitting in the corner, drinking coffee and browsing Reddit. Some would say one is right and one is wrong, but you know what?  As long as you’re attending sessions and getting some good information from the people who you paid to see, network as little or as much as you please.  Some days it comes naturally and some days it’s a pain.

Basically, successful conferencing is all about planning and mitigating any possible stress. Like I said, I might identify as an outgoing introvert, but I need my Reddit time, too.

How do you do conferences?

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s