Attending Conferences 101: Relax

By: Sara Urquhart  Image by:Justin Hackworth

This series focuses on lessons I’ve learned about attending conferences over the years of organizing Alt. You can see the first post here.

Sometimes conference attendees have a tendency to worry about minutiae or nonessential details, like the need to copy every word of every presentation or the frenzy to gather notes from every session they missed. Worrying about what you might miss can keep you from being present and relaxed. And being present and relaxed are the first things I’d recommend to someone who’s ready to learn and be inspired.

Presenters do not hold secrets to success that you will miss if you fail to copy every word they say. Presenters do have great information to share, and listening in a relaxed way maximizes your potential for hearing and (more importantly) applying that information. When you’re listening to a speaker in a relaxed way, the message sort of rolls over you, opening the door for inspiration, application, and next steps.

Trust that you’ll be drawn to inspiring presentations, and don’t agonize over where to spend your time. Even more importantly, trust that speakers will spark something in you, and your best ideas will come from that inspiration. Your own ideas, your own applications, and your own inspiration are the things to record meticulously.

Inspiration can strike at unexpected times. If you’re in a session on accounting, but suddenly have an incredible idea for your next blog series, write that down. Own the action items and new ideas that come to you—these are more powerful and more valuable than what any speaker has to say.

There will be limited posts this week because of the Christmas holiday. We wish you and yours the merriest and will see you back here next week!


Eden Hensley

Marketing creative, community engagement specialist, technophile, photographer, food and wine enthusiast, and the founder and editor-in-chief of The Road to The Good Life, a lifestyle blog about appreciating and enhancing your life by being grateful for the "haves" instead of lingering on the "wants." There you will find personal stories about my life and family weaved in with real-life, achievable entertaining tips, recipes for hearty home cooked meals, and DIY projects for capturing and sharing memories. I believe the best place to swap stories is over a shared meal, preferably a Thai-meal served family style, and teach an online introduction class to Thai Flavors and host the Family Dinners at The Station supper club in San Francisco.