February 26, 2010

Navigating the Conference by Kimberley Payne

The Inscribe Spring WordShop Conference is coming up again soon (March 19, 20). In light of this, I’d like to repost an article I wrote some years ago (First printed in Exchange Newsletter April 2005) that I feel is still relevant today:

As I left the conference, I got lost and was sinking into a panic. “I’m on Bloor Street, heading east, in a traffic jam. The DVP is closed. Help!” The calm voice on the other end of the line guided me in the right direction. From his comfortable chair at home, my husband knew the roads of Toronto like his own shoe size.

I recognized that same panic at home when I looked at my pile collected from the conference.

By taking simple steps, you will be able to navigate yourself without getting lost.


· Pray. Earnestly pray for yourself and all others involved in the conference.

· Prepare ahead of time. Give thought to what you want to get out of the conference. I pore over the brochure.

Would you like to learn about a specific writing technique? Choose workshops to meet this goal; have backup choices.

Want to meet with an editor? Review the faculty biographies for those who fit your area of interest, and plan to make an appointment with at least one.

Hope to network with other writers? Develop a list of questions to discuss, and psych yourself up talk to everyone you can, not just to those you know.


· Pray. Be in fervent prayer throughout the conference, and pray for a teachable spirit.

· Collect freebies. Carry a bag to gather sample publications, writer’s guidelines, handouts and books.

· Mark business cards. On the back of the card, jot what you discussed with the cardholder, the date, and the conference.

· Sit by yourself. This allows you to focus on the presenter and not miss important information while chatting with a friend.

· Highlight main points. The pile of notes can grow heavy, and important points can be easily lost. Take a highlighter to underline the significant points for easy reference.

· Asterisk actions. Put an asterisk beside each idea that you must take action on later. Once home, label a blank piece of paper with, “To do – Conference Title – Date” and filter through all conference material, seeking out the asterisks.

· Colour Website addresses. Use a coloured pen to write important Website addresses. At home, add them to your “favourites.”

· Ask questions. Now is not the time to be shy. Participate in discussions and ask questions. Chances are someone else will be grateful that you had the courage to ask.


· Pray. Pray for guidance, because the real work begins when the conference is over.

· Write an encouraging note to all who blessed you at the conference.

· Organize your pile of conference goodies soon, while everything is still fresh in your mind.

Business cards: File alphabetically.
Flyers and promotional materials: Put into a file labeled with the name of the conference and date.
Workshop notes: Punch and place into a large binder under suitable headings, e.g., Inspiration, Non-fiction, Technique, Business, Marketing, Legal.
Writer’s guidelines: Staple onto the front cover of the periodical, and file.

· Get cracking on your “to do” list. Review the asterisk list, prioritize, and follow up immediately. It’s too easy to fall back into routine and lose the steam of enthusiasm from a conference.

Don’t get lost in a wave of panic after a conference. Follow these simple tips and you can navigate a conference with enthusiasm and confidence.


  1. These are such practical tips Kimberly, thank you. I especially like the idea of taking a high-lighter and marking those notes that need followup. Great idea and I hope to remember this for next time!

  2. Great article. We need this focus, or the SW is just "another" event!

  3. Yes, we need to ensure that we don't just attend these events but take something away that we can then apply to our lives.


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