Tips for a conference visit

Gepubliceerd op 3 november 2023 om 12:00

You are going to a conference for the very first time. You are looking forward to it. The anticipation already starts at home, when you are packing your suitcase. The first question that pops into your head at that point is probably: what am I supposed to wear at a conference? This is just one of the questions you may have before attending your first conference. In this blog we give you some tips that may help you during your preparations and your actual conference visit.


Tip 1: Dress to impress (but don’t overdo it)

The conference information hardly ever says anything about a dress code, but as a rule you wear somewhat representative clothes. A three-piece suit is generally overdoing it a bit, but a nice jacket on some trousers or a skirt is nothing out of the ordinary. It also depends on the industry that you are working for. At a psychiatry conference for example, the colleagues working in the medical industry often do walk around in (three-piece) suits. So definitely check with your colleagues who have attended this or a similar conference before about what is appropriate. Too dressed-up is often not necessary, but too casual may also be uncomfortable.


Tip 2: Use the conference app

Large conferences can be quite overwhelming. There are so many lectures and sometimes there are multiple interesting sessions scheduled simultaneously. It can be hard to keep a clear overview in such cases! Nowadays, almost every conference has its own conference app. In this app you can easily search for keywords, which gives you some insight into which lectures might be of interest to you. By subsequently reading the abstracts, you get a good idea about which lectures you should attend. Most apps will allow you to select lectures and make your own schedule. This is how you create a personalized programme for yourself.


Tip 3: Spread out and collect

Of course, you are attending the lectures you have selected that are important for your PhD research. But if you are attending the conference with multiple colleagues, it is useful to spread out and not attend every session together. This way, you will all collect a lot more information together. It is fun to share with each other what you have heard during the breaks.


Tip 4: Ask away!

If you have a question about a presentation, ask away! However, do try to connect to the content of the presentation and do not just get on your hobby horse or give your own point of view. We see this a lot at conferences, where people almost give a pr statement about their own research or interests. So ask an actual question about the presentation, for example a clarification of something or an elaboration about certain research choices. If there is no time for your question, write down the e-mail address that often appears on the last slide, so you can e-mail the presenter with your question.


Tip 5: Use the breaks

Sometimes, there are so many people who want to ask the speaker a question, you do not get a turn. This is often the case with keynote speakers (the main speakers during the plenary sessions). In these cases, you may want to try to ask your question at a later time, for example during the coffee- or lunch breaks. These are also great moments for networking, for example by striking up a conversation with someone whose presentation you have just attended. Not everyone stays for the entire conference by the way, so be sure to make your move in time if you wish to speak with someone!


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