I have been to a few different business-related events now, where I have seen a lot of people not really know what to do, where to go, or who to look out for in case of questions. In light of my recent attendance of a BarCamp, which is a very different sort of an event, I thought I would put together this guide to attending a conference.
This is a general guide, and each particular event may differ in its set-up and expected behaviours.
- Always bring your own refreshments
Not only will this save you time in the breaks between sessions or presentations, but it will mean you know you’re fed. Most events are catered for the days, but invariably it difficult for an event coordinator to know exactly how much people will eat. And the chances of people eating more at an event where the food is provided than they would at home are high… So you’re likely to miss out on snacks… Or, at least, the good ones.
- Have back up water
If you’re anything like me, you drink more water than the average fish. Venues will quite often place a bottle of water before every setting on a table, if it’s that kind of set up, but where it isn’t, you will be thirsty in the air conditioning that most places insist on placing either too high or too low, which leads me into my next point.
- Wear layers of clothing
If you arrive first thing in the morning, as most conferences have an estimated start time of “morning”, you will probably want warmer layers than you will need come lunch time or even in the afternoon. At least, that is certainly the case in Western Australia. This is especially true when the venue at which the event is being held can simply not cart for the amount of people milling around and all the hot air being thrust upon an unsuspecting crowd. Once the finishing drinks are done (read: close to midnight), you will need those early morning layers again on your way home. Layers, my friends, are urge key to survival no matter what Bear Grylls might say.
- Pack thy charger
If you an on using any kind of electronic device at all, pack your device’s charger and label it and hold onto it for dear life. By all means, be generous and allow others to borrow it but, no matter how credible you think people might be, if your charger is not labelled with your name, you will lose it at some point throughout the day. Better yet, if you can, have your gear colour coded or otherwise clearly designated in such a way that no one would dream of pinching it.
- Don’t mob the speaker
They’re tired. They probably travelled a long way to make it to your event. They’ve slept in a strange bed, eaten strange food and been surrounding by lovely (but draining) fans all day. Let them have a moment to themselves. If you simply must engage with them! make it short and simple and leave them to have their well deserved drink or canapé. This is unless, of course, they make it explicitly clear they don’t mind at all you hanging around, in which case – go for it!
As I said, this is not an exhaustive list, so if you have some other rules you think should be included, please feel free to add it to the comments below!