Kirsti: I’m gearing up for my first two ecology/conservation conferences in 5 years. Yee gads. I’ve been to science communication conferences and other small ones in the meantime, but since child rearing started for me, this coming fortnight sees me back in more familiar territory in Auckland and Fiji.
So needless to say I’ve been thinking about what makes a successful [scientific] conference, and I thought I’d share my A-Z of how I approach such events. It has proven a good reminder list for me in the past, and I’m hoping for the next fortnight too.
A – Abstracts. Get them in before the deadline.
B – Bus. Make sure you get on the one that will take you to the venue, not to a primary school.
C – Coffee. Find good coffee early. Get to know the barista. Take new friends there.
D – Dinner. Go to the conference dinner. Meet new people. Dance and drink with them.
E – Eat with new friends. It’s all about these social gatherings.
F – Food with friends. See?
G – Go to talks relevant to you, and some that are outside your field but look interesting. You might find a new collaborator.
H – Hotel. Find one close to the venue, preferably directly above the conference itself.
I – Internet. Make sure it’s available and there’s free wi-fi.
J – Juggling. Time with colleagues, new friends, at talks, sleeping, drinking, eating… it’s tough.
K – Keep your program with you at all times.
L – Loos. Know where they are.
M – Map. Have a map of the conference venue and the city you’re in.
N – Networking. This is what it’s all about. I make a point of introducing myself to at least 3 new people a day.
O – Opening plenary. Always go to this.
P – Posters. Grab a drink (if it’s on offer) and talk to people.
Q – Queue. Try not to get stuck at the end of the food queue.
R – Register before the earlybird prices suddenly double.
S – Social media. Tweet good talks. Get content out there. Media can pick up interesting stories in real time.
T – Time. Practice your talk so you don’t go overtime. [Most annoying thing in the world]
U – USB. Have a USB ready for anything. Uploading, downloading, sharing.
V – Vicious. Be prepared for vicious questions. Be calm.
W – Workshops. Keep an eye out; there are often really useful workshops you need to enrol in before the conference.
X – Excursions. They are always better with an ecologist who knows the environment.
Y – You. Keep hydrated (have water with you at all times), smile (seriously), and wear comfy shoes.
Z – Zzzzzzz….. watch for people falling asleep for entertainment during not so fabulous talks.
Then make a resolution to email those people you’d genuinely like to keep in touch with as soon as you return to real life. Hang on, just email them as you’re in their talk on your laptop, phone, tablet….Then tweet their talk. Then link to their blog….. Like this one….
What are your secrets to a successful conference experience? Would love to hear them.
[image thanks to caseorganic on flickr]