5 Ways to Practice Self-Care at Conferences

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Once or twice a year, I make it to another city for a conference, like Frequent Traveler University (FTU) or FinCon. (I actually plan on attending FinCon 2018 in Orlando this September!)

I’ve seen lots of articles on how to get more out of conferences. The gist is: talk to everyone, go to social events, get involved, show up early, even go for a run to keep energy levels up.

That all sounds great. It also sounds freaking exhausting.

conference self care

Industry conferences come with amazing opportunities. But you need self-care along the way

There’s a point during every conference where my energy dips, I’m thirsty and/or starving, and talking to more people sounds awful because my voice is shot.

Here’s how I plan to prepare for my next conference: get more out of it by bringing self-care with me.

Take care of yourself first

1. Always have water and/or coffee

Rule number one: stay hydrated. Yup, you’ll be hitting the bathrooms more often, but drinking water keeps your body running and moistens your vocal chords.

I use whatever’s on hand – a water bottle, to-go coffee cup, or reusable container (Hydro Flasks are perfect for this) – and keep refilling it all day.

This is truly your MVP for all-day hydration

Also, I’ve noticed many conferences have coffee in the morning. But after the first session, it’s gone. 😵

If you can, refill your cup before this happens. Usually, there’s a place to get coffee in the event venue – but it’s a far walk and/or expensive. Refillable containers are your friend – keep them full. You will definitely need them, especially for water.

2. Pack a snack

Yes, there’s usually a lunch. But my energy levels start dipping after the very first session!

Between traveling the day before (or day of!), waking up early, and doing a few rounds of greetings, I’m wiped long before lunchtime.

Nothing fancy, but they’re $1 each and keep your energy up

I’ve started putting snacks in my bag: protein bars, trail mix, nuts, or dried fruit. All of these help you through that moment where your blood sugar (and energy) levels start to plummet. Just a couple of quick bites while walking between sessions has done wonders to keep me going.

3. Throat care

You’re going to be talking – a lot. It’s going to be loud. You will be talking over a ton of crowd noise. You’ll recite your “elevator pitch” 1,000+ times.

Your voice and throat are going to take a beating. I remember being so hoarse after Day 1 of FinCon that I wondered how I could possibly keep talking for 4 more days.

Drinking lots of water is a fast, easy way to keep your throat from drying out.

Here are a few other cheap things I’ve used that give my voice a ton more mileage when I know I’ll be talking a lot.

Lozenges

Try some throat lozenges.

Honey is soothing for your throat

I like these honey throat drops. You can get 60 for ~$12. I typically have about 5 or 6 a day, sometimes more. You can find them in drugstores, too.

I like them because they don’t taste medicinal, but have a light, sweet flavor.

Roxalia

I recently discovered Roxalia, an all-natural tablet that dissolves in seconds under your tongue. It’s packed with minerals that work to heal your throat and prevent hoarseness and vocal strain.

Quick and easy

It’s easy to pop a couple out of the package – you don’t need water to dissolve them, so it’s super discreet. And they really don’t taste like anything. Slightly sweet, but neutral.

I take a couple of these in the morning and before bed to prepare and recover. Check out the reviews – if it works for opera singers, I figure it can work for me.

Nin Jiom Pei Pa Koa

Weird name, serious results.

Nin Jiom Pei Pa Koa is no joke

This stuff comes in a 10-ounce bottle – so it’s only worthwhile if you’re checking a bag anyway (won’t pass TSA). It’s packed with:

Elm bark, honey, loquat leaf, fritillary, balloon flower root, snakegourd seed, sand root, senega root, tuckahoe, licorice root, ginger root, five flavored seed and peppermint.

Natural remedies packaged into one bottle, with a base of honey. It’s a dark red, almost brown color, and a very thick liquid. It tastes more herbal than medicinal – but it gets right to work coating and repairing your throat.

If you can take a big spoonful right before bed and let it work its magic while you sleep, that’s the absolute best way to do it. The mixture originated from China. I’ve never seen it in the wild, but you can order some online. If you can’t take it with you, you can have it waiting for when you get home.

Major throat-saver. And at ~$12 for a big bottle, cheap.

4. At least one item that makes you feel confident

Conference success is all about mindset. It can be hard to walk up to someone and start a conversation. Give yourself a source of personal power.

That could be a:

  • Killer blazer that looks great on you
  • Small crystal or stone that you use as an amulet (citrine and quartz are both great – and cheap!)
  • Note on your phone full of affirmations
  • Cool accessory, like a watch or ring
  • New business card that you got printed for the occasion
  • Big smile 😸

Seriously. I’ve used all of these at certain points to keep putting myself out there, time after time. By this point, you’re hydrated, had a snack, and your voice is in great shape. Now all you gotta do is go for it. (And a smile is always the best accessory you can have!)

5. Take a break if you need one

Conference schedules are packed to the gills. Do NOT feel like you have to attend every single session. Or run around trying to absorb all the knowledge. At a certain point, you get diminishing returns. If you’re staying at the hotel, there is zero shame in being like, “I need a nap.” 😴

BRB napping

The biggest part of self-care is knowing when you need to stop for a second. Opportunities to break away are few and far between – so take them when you can. That could be during a session that has nothing to do with your business, one you’re not really feeling, or between social events. Even a 15-minute break can do wonders for your psyche.

You’ll come back refreshed and ready to learn more. Remember, bananas, honey, and cinnamon are all great to boost brain power. So a snack with one of these can help reset your mind, too.

Ultimately, self-care helps you get more out of every conference

There’s no use showing up physically if you’re not there mentally. I’ve done it before, and man, what a waste. This one’s all about respecting your limits.

Bottom line

You bought the ticket. Booked the flight. Paid more to stay in the host hotel so you’ll be right in the action.

So don’t show up without water, snacks, and something good for your throat. Have something that gives you confidence. And take breaks when you need them.

There’s always this pressure to get the most from every conference. You should totally network, shake hands, and give out your business cards. And show up to as many events, sessions, and social dinners as you can handle. I’ve found the best way to get the most from industry events is with a healthy dose of self-care throughout everything.

What else keeps you feeling good at conferences or industry meetings? 

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About Harlan

Just a dude living in Dallas.

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Comments

  1. Great tips! I always over do it at conferences and it’s important to slow down and enjoy. The Nin Jiom Pei Pa Koa stuff is good… both for sore throats and coughs.

  2. The only trade shows I go to are in Las Vegas or in weird semi-country-ass towns in Germany. I don’t take great care of myself at all. Too much working, too much drinking, too much smoking, and occasionally too much gambling lol. In recent years we’ve gotten easier on ourselves, though–schedule appointments later in the day, take time to eat better, more filling meals, have a little more fun. I’m going to try that Chinese medicine…I find that I respond well to those types of treatments (probably because I believe they’ll work). Nice article !

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