How to Survive a Conference

Good conference-surviving tips from Jennifer Howard.

She has some great ideas. Some of them:

8. Do at least one thing that’s unique to the locale. Some of the soul-draining effect of conferences derives from the unpleasant sensation that you could be anywhere, or nowhere. A windowless conference room in Chicago looks a lot like one in Seattle. Take a walk through the historic district near your hotel; find a greasy spoon and order the breakfast special. My personal best: At a conference in Utah, I got there a few hours early and went caving. You don’t have to be too strenuous, though. Even reading the local paper, if you can get it—and you can sometimes if you ask the front desk—will help you get a sense of place.

9. Find your big idea, one that will change what you do and how you approach it. One good idea, one that really inspires you, can make all those sleepless nights and airless rooms worth it.

I like the “find your big idea.” This is so important for those who are going to a conference and will be worn out when it is over. We often try to do too much and then we end up not doing enough.

Due to financial issues, I will be at MLA only two days. That’s good, because that’s about how many I manage to survive before I overwhelm myself.

So, I’m going to be at MLA looking for my big idea. I would be very interested in hearing what you would suggest to survive a conference.

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