Prepping for a conference

I’ve learned a few things about how I work best at professional conferences, and I hope some of this can help you, too. This year, I’ve attended two writing conferences—one huge and one tiny—and will be attending another in September. These thoughts could also apply to social conventions as well, though I don’t have those in mind as much in writing these notes.

  1. Book your room in the hotel that’s hosting the event. Seriously, this is a big deal. It gives you a kind of home base to which you can escape if the need arises. (For me, the need always arises.) If you decide not to do this, try to make a space for yourself as best you can. That may mean retreating to your car or finding an unused conference room, but having a little space to breathe will help keep your spirits up the entire day.
  2. Wear clothes that make you feel strong, confident, and self-assured. Think about the conference you’re attending and dress appropriately, of course, but also make sure that you’re dressing in a way that helps you be your best self.
  3. Get there early to scope out the place and people. Like, really early so that you can see the venue and have time for yourself before other people arrive. Or, on the flipside, arrive right on time to minimize the chances you’ll have to engage in conversation. I move between these two ideas pretty fluidly and they’ve both worked for me at different times. It also depends on how much time I have to spare before the event.
  4. Allow yourself to make a graceful exit when you need time to yourself. As Susan Cain says, “If you know that you are going to allow yourself to leave early, it’s a lot easier to be fully present and engaged for the time that you’re there.”
  5. Remember to tell yourself: Nobody belongs here more than me.

Hopefully I’ll have more about the conferences themselves in another post soon. Thanks for reading!

Viannah E. Duncan

Viannah E. Duncan is a writer and activist hailing originally from Los Angeles. She lives outside of Baltimore, Maryland, and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Wilkes University. She has a cat, Cleo.

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