In the euphoria following a successful conference, participants write many exciting and insightful posts about the content, speakers and atmosphere. But taking a few minutes to look at the sheer practicalities gets overlooked. Perhaps you are a logistics master-planner, perhaps a ditzy swanner-along. Wherever you fall on the spectrum, it’s worth reflecting for a few minutes on how you managed this one to make the next one an immeasurably better experience for you.
1. Read the preliminary event notice carefully.
Think about diary dates, look up possible travel details. Will it fit in to family/publishing/writing timelines? Is anybody getting married/ having an important birthday on those dates? Do you need to be in Bristol or Bangkok on a promotional tour?
Benefit: You don’t sign up to something you have to cancel later.
2. Fill in the application form correctly and check it.
You’re a writer, for goodness’ sake! If you change address, name, email telephone numbers, tell the organiser (pro-actively).
Benefit: You don’t irritate the organisers. They have so much to do, they can’t chase each and every potential participant for details they should have provided earlier.
3. RTFM (Read The F—- Manual, as they say in the IT industry)
Read the joining instructions, schedules, information notes, etc. scrupulously. No quick glances and then chuck on the filing pile, please. Choosing sessions not only helps the organisers with room allocation, but makes you focus on what you personally need from the event. A number of participants missed out on sessions such as one-to-ones because they hadn’t reserved a place or sent a piece in. The RNAConf10 instructions were clear and precise about this.
Benefit: You get the most possible out of the event.
4. Book your tickets.
I use Ryanair and I have to be pretty quick to get the flights I need. Ditto if you want to get the best train fare deals and a reserved seat ( Obviously last item does not apply to Ryanair 🙂 ).
Benefit: You’re sure of your travel, you get an early bird deal and by buying early, you spread the conference cost over a period.
5. Read notices in the accommodation
They’re a mine of information – and listen to the information given to you by the staff. If you don’t understand, ask. I always try out the building entry keycard before going to find my room – they’re notorious for not working. Student rooms are not what most of us are used to, but it’s only a place to sleep and shower. Keeping your cool and smiling nicely with the staff there will get you a lot further than carping in a loud voice, I found…
Benefit: Minimising the accommodation hassles so you can concentrate on the main event
6. Time your walk between accommodation and conference so you know how much to allow and keep an eye on your watch so you get where you want to on time.
Benefit: You don’t miss anything/anyone important!
7. Lastly, and pretty importantly, do not ask organisers unnecessary questions.
Look it up in your paperwork or ask a fellow participant first. Around 95% of the answers lie there. I know that at RNAConf10, Jan and Roger couldn’t have been more helpful, but they needed to concentrate on the day to day as well as sorting out emergencies. That they remained unflappable was to their credit.
Benefit: Organisers who take you seriously and give you their full attention if you do have to ask them.
See you at the next conference…