Getting Ready for a Conference Abroad

Attending an academic conference abroad is something that you will likely do at some point in your life whether you are a graduate student, researcher, or professional. Academic conferences present ideal opportunities for discussing work, networking, and learning. However, the being abroad dimension adds several aspects that mean you need to plan your trip to a tee. You need to plan your trip properly to get the most out of the experience. Unplanned travel can be exhausting and hectic. Let’s have a look at few tips on making the most of any academic conference you attend abroad.

Plan Your Trip

To plan your trip, think of important details, such as choosing a location in close proximity to both the venue and the main city or built-up area. That gives you a broad range of places to visit without having to go too far. I also recommend booking your trip early to get the best deals. In addition, consider using an app to plan your trip. The wonders of modern technology make everything easier. Some trip planning apps I can recommend to create, manage, and improve your trip are:

Networking, Networking, and Networking

Academic conferences, particularly those held abroad, give you an excellent opportunity to network with people you don’t already know. The more people you talk to, the more chance you have of meeting someone who could potentially collaborate with you on future research or work with you in the industry.

At academic conferences, there are always receptions events. During such occasions you often get to speak more in-depth with people you’ve just met, so use the opportunity and take a seat at a table with interesting people who you’d like to get to know more about.

You can plan in advance who it is you’d like to speak to and seek them out. Also, make sure that you know how to introduce yourself. That’s something I learned from Michael Brenner, the keynote speaker of the last conference I attended in San Diego, CA. It is not about you. It is about who you help and why. That’s the content formula. Of course, don’t forget your business cards!

Nail your Presentation

I recommend practicing your presentation before traveling. Once the conference begins, you will not have much time to do it. Even if you practice a lot, do not worry if you feel nervous. Feeling nervous or anxious before a conference presentation is completely normal. Even people who’ve been doing public speaking for years often feel a twinge of nerves in their stomachs, and these nerves can actually inspire you to perform at your best.

It is most important to be succinct and clear with your presentation. Don’t speak fast so you get the main message across. The audience is there to listen, not read. That’s why the visual aids that you are going to use are key. You have to keep the audience interested all the time. Remember that attention spans of audiences are shorter than readers. At the time of the questions, let the audience to finish the question. Do not interrupt them. This will give you time to think about the answer.

Finally, you are the one who knows the most about what the work you are presenting. So, be confident, enthusiastic, and enjoy the presentation.

Dress Appropriately

A good rule about what to wear at an academic conference is to opt for smart/business clothing.

You have to look professional. You will meet colleagues, prestigious researchers, CEOs and potential people you could work in a near future. Therefore, a first impression is never overlooked.

Enjoy Yourself

You are abroad, after all, so it’s important to have a good time. Consider arriving a day in advance of the conference to give you time to explore the city or location in which the conference is being held. While the academic aspect of the conference is clearly the main draw, it can feel too much like a chore to travel abroad for a conference if you don’t give yourself sufficient time to explore the place you travel to. Each day, I always go to explore the city after the sessions of the conferences are done.

Again, the Internet can be your friend when seeking out recommendations for things to do, interesting places to see (museums, monuments, etc), and great restaurants to eat in. The reviews you find online for restaurants abroad are often comprehensive, honest, and trustworthy, so I’d recommend using those as a guideline.

See your academic conference abroad as a great opportunity to inform people of your research, to learn from others, and to grow your network. Plan your trip properly and the whole thing will feel like less of a chore. Network and present yourself well, and remember to try and have fun. 

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