Are you all set to take part in an international conference in Germany? Have you been really looking forward to taking part in the event? So much that you want to derive as much benefit as you possibly can from your experience? Then, this blog is just the thing you need to help you do so.
Prior to The Event
Look To Involve Yourself In Any Manner Possible
Ideally, it is good to decide to attend a conference in Germany as soon as possible. This usually helps to contribute to the overall conference program by suggesting a session topic or proposing a workshop. Think carefully –
Is there a problem related to the theme of the conference that you are struggling to solve?
Is this issue likely to be shared by more members of your community?
If so, you have probably identified an interesting session proposal.
If it’s too late to propose a dedicated session, take a look at the call for papers and see where your work would fit best. Presenting your work at a conference is always a great idea. Whether preliminary or more advanced, you will always receive lots of feedback from other experts in the field.
If the conference does not accept papers, or if the call for papers is closed, it may not be too late. Be creative – take a look at the topics. Is there anything that closely matches the work you do? If so, approach the organizers, tell them about your work and ask them if it would be possible for you to present. Also, maybe there’s a workshop on a topic you’re interested in where you could moderate a session or lead a small group discussion?
Practice Makes Perfect! Yes, Even For Conference Presentations
If your paper is accepted, you will need to prepare your presentation. Do this well in advance, and be sure to seek input from your colleagues and those involved in your project. Not only will you receive helpful suggestions on how to improve your speech, but it could also create an opportunity to get more colleagues interested in your work. It might be a good idea to organize a meeting to practice your speech and invite people to accompany you. This will allow you to precisely time your speech and get feedback from others on the clarity of your messages.
Get Your Presentations Onto The Conference’s Digital Medium & Have It Logged
Once your presentation is ready, and you are happy with the content, upload your slides to an appropriate repository. Uploading your slides to a repository not only allows you to get a DOI (digital object identifier) for your presentation and track mentions and citations of your work but, more importantly, allows others to reuse your slides. There is nothing more encouraging and rewarding than seeing your slides and ideas reused by others. Can you get a better sign of appreciation for your work? Sharing slides in a repository should be accompanied by choosing an appropriate license to ensure that potential reusers know what can and cannot be done with your slides.
Once you’ve shared your presentation to a repository, add your presentation’s DOI link to the version of the slide you’ll present at the conference. It is worth mentioning that the slides are best added at the beginning and end of your presentation. Also, make sure your contact details (including Twitter handles if you have a Twitter account) are provided – ideally also at the beginning and end of your presentation.
Schedule Tweets Featuring A Link To Your Presentation & Slides
Once you have the DOI for your presentation, it’s time to schedule tweets about your speech. Easy scheduling of tweet posts is possible with platforms such as Hootsuite. Find out the exact time of your presentation and schedule a tweet with the DOI link to your slides shortly after your presentation starts. Additionally, it can be helpful to schedule tweets with key takeaway messages. And don’t forget to determine in advance the hashtag of the conference you will be attending and add the hashtag to all your tweets – this way, all the participants of the conference will be able to locate your tweets.
Schedule Networking Meetings For Yourself
Next, focus on organizing networking meetings. Consult the program in detail. Which conferences in Germany and sessions seem particularly relevant to you and your work? Who would you like to talk to? Contact these people and ask them to meet you for coffee, lunch, breakfast, or dinner. Not only will you get the chance to have one-on-one discussions with like-minded people, but the people you approach will know that their work is valued.
Carry Your Business Cards So You Can Hand Them Out
With all of this organized, don’t forget to take some of your business cards with you as well. It is recommended that you leave some of your business cards in the place where you will be giving your talk so that people can retrieve them and communicate with you afterward.
Let Your Colleagues Know What You’re Going To Be Up To
Finally, before you hit the road, write your out-of-office message. It’s a good idea to include information about the conference you are attending as well as add a DOI link to your presentation. This way, people who email you will not only learn that you’re away at a conference but also have the opportunity to watch your presentation and learn more about your work.
During The Conference
While the preparatory work for the conference usually extends over several weeks, the work during the conference itself is limited to the actual time of the meeting and therefore tends to be very intense.
Take Complete Advantage Of Networking Opportunities
During the conference, try to make good use of all networking opportunities – try to talk to different people and speakers who have inspired you. And, while it’s sometimes difficult, try to resist the temptation to hang out with people you already know well (or with your colleagues). When you meet new people, exchange business cards and contact details – otherwise, it’s easy to forget all the new names.
Use Twitter Wisely
Make good use of Twitter at conferences. Many interesting discussions and debates are now taking place on Twitter. Follow the people who inspired you – it’s yet another way to stay in touch long after the conference. Finally, some people use Twitter to take notes during lectures. They simply tweet all their main observations and key messages from the talks they are attending. One can even capture all (or selected tweets) and incorporate them into stories using dedicated tools.
Indulge In Collaborative Note-Taking
If you’re lucky and have several colleagues on your team in the same meeting, take the opportunity to take notes collaboratively. With the use of Google docs, multiple people can simultaneously contribute to the same document.
Keep An Eye Out For Spontaneous Chat Sessions
Many conferences offer opportunities for more spontaneous group discussions. If the conference you attend offers such opportunities, think about the recent problem you tried to solve and bring it up for public discussion. Hopefully, the topic you came up with might get picked up, and you might get a chance to get people thinking about finding a solution to this problem.
Recognize & Appreciate The Contribution Of Others
It sounds trivial, but during conferences, it’s especially important to recognize people’s contributions. For example, telling someone that you liked their speech, or that they led a good discussion, or maybe because you liked the questions they posed to the speakers. Or you might be grateful to the people who provide you with feedback on your speech. In all of these situations, it’s always a good idea to thank contributors and let them know you appreciate what they’ve done. This encourages those who contribute to continuing to engage. Additionally, those new to the community will feel that feedback and active participation are welcome.
Get Enough Rest (Sleep) & Keep Yourself Hydrated (Don’t Forget To Drink Water)
An important thing to realize is that our body has to physically cope with the intensity of a lecture. So while it may be difficult (if not impossible) with the amount of networking and the need to catch up on some of the pressing matters at work, try to sleep well. If you have the option of staying in a hotel close to the conference venue, this will provide you with a few extra minutes of sleep.
It’s always a good thing to want to keep your body hydrated. Talking, interacting, and drinking an endless amount of tea and coffee, we tend to forget to drink water. It may therefore be a good idea to always ask for a glass of water with your tea or coffee.
Bring Back A Treat For Your Co-Workers
Although this is, of course, entirely optional, try to bring a treat back to your co-workers. Whether it’s a box of chocolates or a local snack, it can be nice to share something with your colleagues who couldn’t make it to the meeting.
After The Conference
There you go, the conference is over. Nevertheless, there is still work to be done after the meeting is over, which will help you get even more out of it.
Take The Opportunity To Reconnect With Those You’ve Met With Previously
As soon as possible after you return from a meeting, reconnect with the people you met. Add them on LinkedIn and/or send them personal emails. It can be as simple as thanking them again for the nice conversation you had, the great conversation they gave, or for the feedback they provided to you. This will remind them of you and help you maintain the connection.
If you’ve agreed on something, track your actions – send the document you promised to send; put the person in contact with your colleague; write down the future project you discussed, etc. The important thing is to do it quickly and maintain momentum.
Note Down Important Info
If you were offered business cards, take notes on them. Add information about when you met the person and what you talked about. Although it may seem silly to do, it could come in very handy in a year or two when memory fades, and you want to contact someone from a certain organization, and you realize you actually have spoken to one of its representatives during a meeting.
Tell Your Colleagues About What Your Experience & Everything You Learned
It might also be helpful to share your lessons learned with others. Whether it’s a formal presentation or report meeting or a less formal conversation with your colleagues. Also, it’s a good idea to write a blog post with your main findings and observations. This will be useful not only to your colleagues and other people who were unable to attend the meeting but also to people who attended the meeting with you – they might find your notes and thoughts inspiring.
If you’re writing a blog post and specifically acknowledging certain contributions, it might be a good idea to let those people know that you’ve recognized them in your writing – they’ll surely be happy to hear that, and it’ll help you further to maintain the alive connection. Finally, if you write a blog post, let the organizers of the Berlin conferences know — they might be interested in reposting it and getting more exposure for your work.
Contemplate What You Could Have Done Better
Lastly, take the time to think about what you did well and what could be improved the next time around. It might also be a good idea to talk to other colleagues who have experience attending conferences and doing it effectively – they might be willing to share some good suggestions with you.