How to Prepare for a Conference

The following is a guest post by Angela Crocker.

I started musing on all the things you can do to prepare for a conference over on my website, and seeing as I was writing with Social Media Camp in mind, it only seems fair to share some of the tips here. (Thanks to conference organizers Paul Holmes and Chris Burdge for inviting me over!) Now let’s get down to my sage (I hope!) advice:

How are you going to make notes? Do you like a paper notebook or prefer to make digital notes on your Netbook? Maybe an iPad or Blackberry Playbook is your thing? Or perhaps you need a sketchpad? Whether you scribble detailed notes, jot down some key points or doodle the concepts that speak to you, make sure you have the paper & pens or digital gizmo that works for you.

Pack any books you want to have signed by authors who will be at the conference. Social Media Camp’s speakers include several published authors including Amber Naslund, Jay Baer, Sean Moffit and me. And don’t worry if you don’t have all the books yet. The fabulous folks from Munro’s, one of Victoria’s leading bookstores, will have copies for sale on site. (Somebody, please, remind me I need to pick up a copy of Sean Moffitt’s book!)


Determine the conference hashtag and prepare to tweet your heart out. There’s no need to wait until conference day – jump in and tweet chat with fellow attendees today. Please make sure you are using the official hashtag – it’s #SMCV11 for Social Media Camp. I recently went to a conference with no official hashtag and several different conversations happened simultaneously. I was disappointed to miss some great content. Make sure your contributions to the online conversation are part of the right conversation.

Pack a self-care package for your hotel room. How can you look after yourself? A water bottle, pain relievers, antacids, extra reading glasses, your favorite pillow, hand sanitizer, bubble bath, gluten-free energy bars, a novel … What creature comforts will recharge your batteries between conference days?

Arrive fully charged, if you can. I mean, get enough sleep before you come. Being well rested is a great defense against any conference germs (they happen) and you won’t embarrass yourself yawning all the way through the keynote or other presentations.

Find your winning smile and bring it along. I smile most of the time, I can’t help that natural advantage on this one. But, please, leave your “grin and bear it” grimace at the office. Prepare to share the part of you that’s excited to be at the conference. If you’re not excited why are you coming?

Bring a small shoulder bag to carry around the conference. This could be a purse or a man-bag or a small backpack. Make it a small bag so you won’t be tempted to carry around a lot of extra stuff and travel light so you won’t tire as quickly. This is also a courtesy to those sitting around you in packed conference rooms. Leave everything you won’t need back at the hotel.

Cash in your pocket can make your conference life easier, too. Buying a latte is much faster with cash and the lines are often long. Do your bit to keep things moving quickly. It’s also easier to chip in for lunch or cocktails with a group of conference buddies if you can put cash on the table for your share.

Want more tips? Visit Beachcomber Communications for the rest of my advice to prepare to enjoy a great a conference. And feel free to add your tips below.

Paul Holmes

Paul Holmes is Co-Founder of Social Media Camp. He is a 25-year IT industry veteran, and lifelong resident of Victoria, British Columbia.

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