I am still very excited when thinking about the conferences I went to in the first half of 2019. Conferences are a great way to learn more about your ColdFusion needs. Learn about it in general, meet and greet and much more. There are plenty of great opportunities to meet leaders in the Adobe ColdFusion world. To some people, this sounds like a wonderful experience. To others, this can be an introvert’s nightmare. Today, we will discuss some conference going tips that can help allow even the most introverted developers thrive at a CF conference. Along with this, we will also discuss some suggestions for conference holders to help attendees feel comfortable. By following these tips, anybody can turn into a conference-attending professional.
Quality over Quantity
When it comes to conferences what does quality over quantity mean? Seminars and group activities can be great learning tools. However, most tend to drag on and be very draining. The simple solution for this would be to skip the seminars and small-group activities. Instead, contact the speakers you are most interested to hear from prior to the conference. Try to schedule some one-on-one time. This is a great tactic especially for introverts. You can get sound quality information from the speaker of your choice and avoid the crowds at the same time.
How can we achieve this at our conferences though? One method would be to allow for a scheduling during conference registration. Each keynote speaker and company can allow for an open time block for conference attendees to sign up for. A limited time block with a first come first serve standard would be fair for both speaker and participant. This could encourage more people to attend in order to speak face to face with those of their choosing. The speakers and companies would gain more access into the thoughts of veterans and new faces to the community alike. The limited time block would also also the speakers and companies more rest for themselves as well.
Good Sleep and Good Hygiene
According to a study for the National Institute of Health, lack of sleep is directly related to memory loss and inattentiveness. What good is attending a conference if you can’t remember the information you are there to receive?
“We’re generally not sleeping enough, and most of the surveys show that about half of adults are not getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep on a regular basis.”–Jeanne Duffy, Prof. of Medicine, Harvard Medical School
Poor sleep patterns can take a toll on any conference goer. A lack of energy will instill lethargy and negative attitudes in those who do not receive enough sleep. Sleep is very important!
Along with good sleep, good hygiene is needed. Good hygiene does wonders for your body. Besides the obvious courtesy reasons for the individual sitting next to you, proper hygiene is great for both body and mind. Studies have found a direct correlation between hygiene and self-esteem. For introverts, a self-esteem booster goes a long way for surviving a conference.
How can we ensure all conference participants get their required sleep and good hygiene? Conference holders should take a look at their scheduling prior to opening the conference. Events should start later in the day in order to provide ample time for sleep and hygiene. The responsibility also falls on the conference attendee as well. Maintaining self-discipline to allow for proper rest prior to events is very important.
Give Yourself Permission to Skip Events
In an interview for the Harvard Business Review, Susan Cain— author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking— states:
“If we were more willing to go to a conference feeling entitled to take the recharge breaks we need, the entire experience would be more comfortable.”
One of the biggest mistakes a rookie conference goer can make is by attending every single event. There are so many great things to learn at conferences; however, which things actually apply for your needs? Attending conference events is tiring. Now, imagine attending all the events. This is way too much for one person to handle.
Allow yourself permission to skip events. Take the time you need to recharge your batteries, so you can feel ready to attend the events that are important for your needs.
The best way to combat the overzealousness is to make a schedule for your conference days prior to going. Outline what events are truly important for you. Be sure to plan recharge breaks into your schedule as well. Conference holders should also plan proper recharge points into the day. Proper lunch and coffee breaks can go a long way in maintaining the attentiveness and energy of your attending crowd.
Healthy Body, Healthy Mind
Growing up as children, we were always told to eat our vegetables. The same holds true when attending conferences. Most foods we eat conferences tend to be full of trans fats and unhealthy sugars. Between soft drinks and fast food cheeseburgers, the amount of unhealthy food we put into our bodies can really bring us down. In a study conducted by UCLA, junk foods have been found to not only lead to obesity, but promote laziness. These conference foods can actually cause a lack of motivation!
So, how do we fix this? Let’s be proactive. I like to bring nutritious snacks such as nuts, dried fruits, and protein bars. There are great recipes out there for a healthy trail mix that you can pack like this one I found at The Healthy Maven. Is trail mix going to be enough however? Perhaps a good solution could be for the conference holders to provide healthy alternatives for snacks. Instead of donuts and pizzas, conference holders should place out veggie trays and fruit platters. These types of foods will provide the much needed energy boost for all attendees. Also, how we accept our food plays a major role in what we get out of it. You can learn to “feel out your food” by watching this podcast by Michaela Light.
What types of food help keep you full of energy for a whole day conference?
Plan Some Downtime and Treat Yourself
The conference was a success! You have made it through all the activities and the crowds. Now what? Instead of travelling immediately home, give yourself a few days to relax and unwind. Chances are, you are away from home. Go sightseeing. Visit the nearby restaurants and eat the local fare. Treat this as a short vacation. After all, ColdFusion development can get a little hectic at times.
Conferences should not necessarily end after the last speaker. A simple gesture would be to display brochures and pamphlets for local attractions. Conference holders should encourage their attendees to explore the local area. Conference sponsors and nearby businesses should explore discount options. This could bring in revenue while allowing attendees to get some much needed R&R.
Another advantage of planning some downtime is the opportunity to network. Instead of networking at the conference alone, invite another attendee out for a coffee. Get to know that individual. By doing this outside of the conference setting, you will be more comfortable and less stressed. Not only will you have expanded your professional network, you can also gain a friend.
With new conferences developing, we should be aware of what we need for a pleasurable experience. By following these simple tips, we can not only survive a conference but thrive in them.