Top Ten: Tips to survive a conference

4420456374_64a3d7e6aa Welcome to the first of my top tens! For those of you who don’t have the time to read my full blog posts I am putting together shorter top tens that summarise the points I make in the blog. If you are an academic who gets anxious at conferences or you simply want to avoid them, here are my tips for surviving academic conferences.

  1. Prepare you paper well in advance of the conference and rehearse it. Use your department/school research groups to present the paper to help you get some preliminary feedback and boost your confidence.

  2. Don’t go to conferences alone. Make sure there’s at least one other person going who you know well. Try to get the same accommodation so you have someone there to walk to and from the conference with.

  3. Arrange social gatherings and meetings in advance. Contact publishers to set up meetings before you go or arrange a drinks night with colleagues. Have social events set up before you leave will stop you feeling isolated when you arrive.

  4. Check out where you are presenting before your slot. Scan the room, look at the IT equipment, this will prevent any unexpected surprises when you are due to present.

  5. If you find yourself alone, use your time effectively. I normally check out the conference posters or walk round the book stalls. This helps you keep up to date with new research and writing and gives you the opportunity to chat to people.

  6. If you are attending a paper you are interested in, ask questions at the end. Presenters like people to ask them things about their paper in a supportive or complimentary way. Don’t ask questions to try and trip up the presenter, this won’t win you any points.
  7. Take contact/business cards with, you can pass these out to people quickly. I often even write my research specialism on the back so people remember who I am.

  8. Engage in the conference social media discussions using the designated hashtag(s). Talk about what you’ve seen or what you’re doing, tell people where and when you’re presenting and/or congratulate other people’s papers. This will help you network if you are someone who finds face to face networking difficult.

  9. Follow up leads after the conference, don’t leave it too long. Don’t be afraid to get in touch with people who’s work you liked or who liked your work. The worst thing that can happen is they ignore your email and you get no response, and if they do that then they’re not the sort of people you want to work with.

  10. Spent some time after the conference reflecting on what went well or what didn’t and use these reflections to help you improve your conferencing skills for next time.
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