Research Strategy Group’s top 10 essentials for attending a conference

Our very own Amy Davies will be speaking (Have I got a Story for you) at the MRIA Annual Conference 2015 on Monday May 25 at 1:00pm.

Gearing up for the conference, Amy thought she would share her list of top 10 pieces of advice, the product of lessons learned through trial, error and observation over many years of attending and speaking at conferences globally.

We hope they help! See you at the conference!!

1. Dress in warm clothes or bring a sweater or blazer

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve dressed for plus 20 and the conference centre feels like minus 10, and I’m not alone, I’ve seen many delegates with bare arms or legs feeling the chill.

2. Stay fresh by getting exercise beforehand and/or between sessions

Conferences take a lot out of you; typically we are meeting a lot of new people which makes us use our brains more than normal. A good run the night or morning before will keep you fresh and your mind alive.

3. Avoid overeating and/or eating the wrong things

How amazing are all of the baked goods, candy and treats at conferences?! I agree, they taste amazing but their positive effects wear off quickly and then you are left feeling lethargic and, if you’re anything like me, a bit frustrated for consuming the wasted calories. Overeating at lunch or dinner can have the same negative effect even if you are eating the right things.

4. Wear comfortable shoes

Sometimes standing in one place can be more difficult than walking around and there can be a surprising amount of standing at a conference. Many years of making bad footwear choices have made we realize – we are simply happier in comfortable shoes – the trick, particularly for women is to find shoes that both look and feel great.

5. Arrive early

If you have something to sell this piece of advice is particularly important because arriving early gives you the chance to speak to potential clients when there is a lull in conversation and get to know them a bit before the hoards arrive.

6. Sit near the front

Sitting near the front of the room during presentations will mean you get so much more out of them. Some speakers are truly amazing and accomplished people and you will make a more meaningful connection with them in the front row – believe me!

7. Warning: this is a tough one – as much as possible put down your smartphone

Conferences are a great opportunity to meet new people, to network and to learn. In the worst case scenario the presentations etc. aren’t good – that’s a great opportunity to learn more about what not to do. The fact of the matter is there is always something you can learn so make the most of it – you can look at your phone anytime 🙂

8. Do not get drunk

Be cautioned that this one can sneak up on you: You know how the saying goes, ‘you never get a second chance to make a first impression.’ We’ve all seen that sloppy drunk or misbehaved person at a conference so if you drink, sip slowly and make sure you give yourself a drinks limit. It could end in disaster. You don’t want to be that person who falls into the fountain or worse.

9. Network with everyone

People can get caught up in networking only with the people to whom they want to sell or avoiding those that want to sell to them. That’s a bad strategy – what you want to do, particularly if you have something to sell is to create a positive energy around you. Talk to everyone, show genuine interest and the potential clients will be drawn to your discussion or your group. You may also make some unanticipated positive connections.

10. Wear something that makes a subtle statement

It may seem odd but it’s a way to get noticed and people will tend to remember you more. I cannot emphasize subtlety enough here – but wear something, perhaps with a little colour that gets people to notice.


I’m going to cheat and add one more – smile – people love talking to people who smile.