Tips for Surviving a Conference

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  • One of the elements of business, whether you consider it a positive or negative, is attending conventions and conferences. No matter if your destination is Cleveland, St. Louis, Las Vegas or Miami there is one thing that remains consistent about these events and that’s the schedule. An often grueling dance of meetings, lectures and breakout sessions during the day and social events into the wee hours of the night is repeated for anywhere from two to five days at a time. An RN that I know attended a conference in Miami and after she wrapped up her late night partying, she found that there was only about three hours to sleep, shower and then return to the banquet hall for a seminar. The schedule can be absolutely brutal, but after a few years on the convention circuit, I’ve managed to master some foolproof tips to get you through your business trip successfully.

    Be the master of your calendar
    Whether your obligations call for meetings or back-to-back speaker sessions, plan your days well before your trip. If you haven’t already, this would be the ideal time to sync your work calendar with your mobile phone so that your itinerary is always close at hand. It doesn’t matter if the event schedule is printed on the back of your badge, put it in your calendar anyway. It can help isolate time designated for certain activities. I can’t tell you how many affiliate summits I’ve gone to and filled my day with meetings rather than taking advantage of the information sessions. Also, setting alerts 15-20 minutes before the start of each appointment should give you an opportunity to wrap up your current activity and make it to the next one in a timely fashion.

    Plan your wardrobe
    Packing clothing that can go from day to night will be your saving grace. Men have it a little easier in this department since chinos and a polo can be dressed up with a sport coat. Ladies, however may be tasked with choosing an ensemble that looks professional during the day, yet can be transformed into something more fun when it’s time to meet for happy hour. I have one word for you: layers. It doesn’t matter the climate, the convention space will usually be cold, so choose a top (short sleeved or sleeveless) that can be worn with a cardigan or blazer. Pairing these items with a skirt and stylish (but comfortable) shoes presents a nice, polished look. When it’s time to socialize, you can easily shed the jacket and put on heels to be ready in a flash. I personally opt for smart, day dresses on my trips. Fewer pieces equates to easier packing. Speaking of packing, if you choose your shoes first (one pair of flats and one pair of heels), it is easier to decide which outfits to bring along.

    Make time to rest
    I know what you’re thinking, “Rest? Who has time to rest?” This idea goes back to being the master of your calendar. Commission Junction University in Santa Barbara is one of the largest and most popular affiliate marketing conferences in the country and the days are planned down to the hour. If you don’t make a conscious decision to do a hard stop at about 4 p.m. or 5 p.m. to get in a 90-minute power nap, you’ll find yourself struggling to stay awake during the midnight s’more roast. If there is truly no time to rest in between the end of the work day and the beginning of social hours, police yourself to call it a night at a decent hour. It can be hard, especially with colleagues who want to stay out until the bars close, but you know your body and you know how much sleep you need each night to function. You don’t want to be the one falling asleep during the keynote speaker’s address.

    Eat smart and remember to hydrate
    Let’s just call a spade a spade. There’s a lot of free booze at these kinds of events. I’m not telling you not to drink, but I will advise you to make a few glasses of water part of your evening. Hangover headaches are caused in part due to dehydration. By staying hydrated you can beat headaches and the unsightly bloating that can follow a night of partying. During the day, stay away from the colas and pastries and seek out high-energy foods like bananas, almonds, granola bars, orange juice, and yogurt.

    Just like everything else in life, surviving a conference is all about planning and balance. Once you’re equipped with the right info and the right frame of mind, you can reach convention nirvana.

    QuiaQuerisma is a digital marketer by day, freelance writer by night, and a traveler by nature. Her work has appeared in a number of outlets including the Dallas Observer, SoulTrain.com, and Where Dallas magazine covering the topics of fashion, entertainment and travel. Follow her on Twitter @querismatic and visit her at http://about.me/querisma.

     

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