How to Prepare for a Conference

Get the most out of your next conference with a little advanced planning. Get-It-Done Guy gives tips to make every opportunity work for you.
Stever Robbins
4-minute read
Episode #536

There’s never a dull moment at Grandma Cuddles Day Care Center. Chief Financial Officer “Chip” is attending a conference of controllers in Boston. He’s hoping to learn something about how to keep expenses at the center within budget. It turns out, for example, that aluminum chain is lighter and cheaper than chain made out of galvanized steel. Who knew?

As dedicated as he is, Chip wants to get the most out of the conference. Sure, getting high-quality information is important. But any web site on the internet can give you great information about how to treat children, right? At a conference, you get information and you get to meet like-minded people! 

But in order to get the most out of a conference, preparation is important. In addition to having a content agenda, you’ll get the most by having a participant agenda as well.

Define Your Goals

You can’t know who you want to meet without knowing what you want to accomplish. What do you want to get out of the conference? Are you there for personal development? To keep up on industry trends? To find possible new job opportunities? 

Chips is very, very happy at Grandma Cuddles. So he’s looking for day care tips and tricks, ideas for improving the Cuddles infrastructure, and ways he can improve at his job.

Know Who Will Be There

If you’re going to a conference, presumably other movers and shakers in your industry will be there. Find out whatever you can about who’s going to be there an advance.

Find out about the other guests. Some events share a list of attendees available before things kick off. But even if you don’t have a readily accessible list, check out the social media accounts of people in your industry. People often mention things they’ve been to or are going to. Don’t let their disregard for personal privacy be wasted! Use this intelligence to figure out who’s going to be there.

Find out about exhibitors. The exhibit hall may be filled with players in your industry who you’d like to get to know. Look at past programs to see if there are any sponsors, advertisers, or exhibitors you’d like to meet. 

Find out about speakers. The one list you can be sure will be available is the list of people who are speaking. The keynote speeches are generally done by people who are famous or influential in the field. They are often “big picture” people. Breakout sessions are usually led by people who have more on-the-ground experience.


About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins was the host of the podcast Get-it-Done Guy from 2007 to 2019. He is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT.