Before you go

  • Prepare a 30 second 'elevator pitch' that describes your work
  • If attending a multi-track conference, plan out your schedule
  • If necessary, make business cards
  • If you're giving a talk
    • Practice, practice, practice
    • Prepare a short bio that the session chair can read out
    • Confirm the duration of the talk
    • Plan out which slides you can skip in case you're rushed for time

During the conference

  • Introduce yourself; mingle; building 'social capital'
  • Ask others about their work. You can go up to almost anyone and ask "What are you working on these days?"
  • Solicit pointers to related work
  • Before going to bed each night, write down what you learned that day
  • Avoid meeting with anyone from your own university!
  • If you doing a presentation
    • Approach your session chair as soon as you can to let them know your presence
    • Make sure you can attach to the projector, that the colours come out right, and that your text is visible at the back of the room
    • In your presentation, try to refer to other talks from the session
    • Carry both a PDF and a Powerpoint/Keynote version of your slides, in case the session chair's laptop cannot accept the native format

At talks

  • Ask pertinent questions, not to score points, but to challenge incorrect assumptions and to point the speaker to related work
  • Think about the presentations you attend
    • What would you have done differently?
    • How can you incorporate the work and the presentation style into your own work?

Social life

  • Enjoy your meals, but don't overindulge
  • Don't stay up too late - make it a point to attend the first session every day
  • Visit nearby universities if possible


  • Write a trip report
  • Follow up on any commitments you made

Thanks to Tim Brecht and Hanan Shpungin for their ideas, which I have incorporated into this page