This is a confessional of sorts…truth be told, I don’t like crowds. That is not to say, I don’t like people. I do. Just in smaller doses – one on one- in spaces and at times where I can absorb the essence of the human being without feeling bombarded.
I’m essentially a closet introvert, someone who gains energy from being within a more intimate space when it comes to relationships with others. And that’s why conferences have tended to leave me drained even though I appreciate the efficiency of meeting many good friends in one setting.
Over the years, I’ve met many people like me. You’ve probably met them too. Folks who may seem to be having the time of their lives, but whose haggard appearance in the final hours reveal the enormity of the stress that being ‘friendly & out-going’ has been for the past several days. Maybe, this describes you!
So, if you’re tired of being tired at the end of large conferences, I’ve compiled a few simple tips that have been helpful for me. It’s made the difference between literally having to spend a few days in ‘recovery mode’ when I return from a conference versus feeling somewhat revitalized from the experience.
First…plan before you go. A plan of action for me involves looking at the schedule and the Speaker line-up in advance. There are few things more awkward than lugging large bags filled with promotional material, walking endless convention style stadiums with sore aching feet and also trying to figure out what class to attend. Simply taking time to plan a schedule for yourself gives purpose to the day and a game plan so that precious energy can be used where it most matters.
Next…create a goal. It may be as simple as meeting five new people or taking a specific class. If you’re interested in serving in a committee on the national level, make a plan to attend as an observer and speak to some of the participants about their experience. Or, you might want to learn more about a specific type of technology. The great thing about having so many experts in one space is that you can take advantage of this knowledge base very effectively. If you plan! I often made the mistake of wanting to do too much. It’s better to plan to actually accomplish 1-2 things a day than to have a scatter shot approach and hit nothing!
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, take care of the most important asset and investment – yourself! It’s easy to put this on the back-burner in the excitement that tends to foment around crowds of people. I find that I need to be mindful of what I put into my mouth, choosing fuel (in terms of food) that replenishes rather than junk or staple vending machine offerings. Water is also hugely important as convention halls as enclosed environments can be very dehydrating.
If you’re an introvert, take time during the day to be alone. It’s not a sin to skip a session and return to your room to regroup or refresh. And, fresh air several times a day between sessions can do wonders to revive the soul. So, if you find me walking around with a dazed expression…feel free to remind me about my own advice!
So, here’s to a maximized convention experience! Hope it’s a good one for you.