Let’s set the scene: half a year ago you submitted an abstract to the large international conference that everyone who is important in your field is speaking at. Your collaborators from sunnier climates are also going. Last month you got told that you are to give a talk (or poster) and you now know which session you are in. Obviously your talk / poster was ready weeks ago and practiced in front of the research cluster, with considerable applause. Luckily all the research you had outlined in the abstract, despite not being completed at the time, makes sense so there is no need to worry about title changes or gaping holes others may question. The hotel and flights are also booked and conference registration is complete. Your research website is up to date and so is your Piirus page, ready for all the potential collaborations from those that love your work. So it is just the fun part now, preparation for the actual conference!
But is it really like that? In reality, with so many last minute tweaks to presentations and data sets it can be easy to forget that your 15 minute slot is less than 1 % of the overall conference in a 5 day event and that a little time before the conference should be set aside for preparations to maximise your experience.
What sort of preparations?
A week before it is a good idea to sit down and circle the talks you want to go to, especially if sessions on similar topics are running parallel. It is also worth looking at the poster abstracts and finding the poor victims you wish to question about their work. Although it is usually possible to visit all the posters related to your work in the session, by knowing the name and stand of the researchers you want to speak you can be at the front of the interrogation queue, handily before the presenter gets tired and their voice breaks down. It can also be handy to print a couple of copies of your latest journal article you are presenting on, either for people who speak to you after your talk and for those with complimentary research in the poster sessions. Hopefully, others will read it when waiting at the airport after the conference has ended, boosting your citations . . .
So now the talk is sorted, you know which sessions to attend and you have your journal articles to hand. Only the logistical issues left to sort. Perhaps it is best to find out the quickest and cheapest way between the airport and the hotel (you did book one, didn’t you?), how to get from the hotel to the conference venue and most importantly, where the best watering holes (cafes/bars) are! Lastly, it is time to pack. Passport, boarding pass, currency, clothes, chargers, laptop, back up presentation, plug adapters, paper work, earphones for the flight, toiletries, notepad and pen, local guides, and finally, your business cards!
Wave good bye to the group and your loved ones, it’s time for a week of presentations, posters and networking. Have fun and don’t forget to bring back some souvenirs! Have I missed a key part of your own preparation for conferences? How do you ensure you make the most of your time away? Any presentation tips? Please feel free to Tweet us @piirus_com or with our #piirustips hashtag. You can also comment below(“Leave a Reply”).