As a panelist for a webinar called “Best Strategies for Attending a VO Conference“, hosted by Marc Cashman and Larry Hudson, I was pleased to share tips on how I navigate a conference. When attending several conferences in one year, I’m eager to get prepared. In keeping with part one of this post series, (Pre-Conference Planning), staying energized and enthused is my goal…
Here are my “conference tactics”…
Attend sessions autonomously, maintaining your own personal rhythm
Avoid choosing sessions simply because your friends are going. We are all in different places in our career and will benefit from different information. Further, being distracted is always very easy. If you stay focused on your plan for your conference experience (see Part One of this post series), you’ll achieve your objectives for the conference and stay “present” enough to take in all the information. Despite the hundreds of attendees, flying solo can be very effective.
Choosing the “right” session
We all have our own criteria for sessions, but my rule of thumb is to chose those that are unique to the conference and that I can’t pay for one-on-one after the conference. Also, breakout sessions are great to see if a coach is a good fit for you later on. Finally, if there are weaknesses in my craft or my business that I know require further study, I’ll attend those sessions that fill in some holes.
Use one journal, a separate page, and title for each session
In order to make sense of your notes when you get home, outlining your takeaways helps to remember all that you learned. I personally find my notes a great reference when looking back. I appreciate including the title, date, and presenter at the top of each page to find information easily.
Photograph notes for sharing
You’ll often want to go to several sessions at the same time. It’s very effective to agree with another participant that you’ll share notes, given you are respecting the guidelines of the conference and the presenter’s ownership of the content. I take a quick pic of my session notes as soon as each session is done, so I can share them easily, if appropriate. (If you’ve paid extra for a special session, you might not want to do this as per the conference and/or presenter.)
Be on time for meals
Don’t forget to eat. A conference is usually keeping you busy from the moment you wake until the moment you hit the pillow at night. And, when it is an extremely large conference, navigating the line ups for food is a “thing”. In order to cope with crowds and avoid not eating at all, make it a priority to know where and when your meals are in order to not miss out.
Keep alcohol consumption to a minimum
Decompressing with several cocktails can be very appealing. However, it’s not good for our vocal health. Further, a conference is a marathon and in order to be in great shape all the way through (including when you arrive home and need to hit the ground running), you’ll want to do everything in your power to stay energized and healthy. This does not include having a hangover.
Stay on site when possible
When you’ve allotted three or so days to participate in a conference, you’ll want to maximize every moment – attending sessions, yes – but also connecting with new people and reconnecting with friends you only see at conferences. I love dining in groups, but I highly recommend not straying too far from the hotel sites. You don’t want to waste time outside of conference venue. You’ll lose valuable time. However, one caveat: do make time for fresh air at least once a day.
Stay focused and intentional
Again, as mentioned in part one of this blog post series, you’ll want to plan your objectives and then, stay focused on your goals with intention. A conference is an investment of time and money in yourself. If you can stay focused, you’ll reap more rewards from maximizing your experience. (You might appreciate this post: Remarkable Focus – One of Three Direct Steps to Mompreneur’s Balance.)
Sacrifice attending a session or two for quiet time
Sometimes, it’s all too much. There’s no shame in having a siesta! If you don’t want to melt into a puddle at the end of the conference, I highly recommend taking a few moments to re-calibrate in your room. While you may miss a session or two, a rest in a quite place will provide you the energy you need to carry on your conference tactics with intensity!
For a list of upcoming conferences, see here: https://natashamarchewka.com/resources/.