Friday 24 January 2020

Some tips for avoiding anxiety at conferences

Library and information conferences for 2020

Library and information industry conferences, seminars, events offer attendees valuable opportunities for networking and continuing professional development. However they can also be anxiety inducing. 

If it’s any consolation for nervous first-timers, it can be just as bad for those going for the umteenth time. The truth is, we ALL get anxiety - some of us worse than others, but it affects every single one of us. 

The question is, how do you let it affect you? Here are some proven practical tips to reassure: 

  • Buddy up! Many conferences now offer a scheme to match up people to make it less daunting for the new-comer. Do it, and see if it works for you! 
  • Identify yourself! Wear your badge so that your name and organisation is visible. It might be that someone has seen you on the attendee list and wants to meet you!
  • Embrace social media! Find the relevant hashtag and join in the conversation. At BIALL last year, I spent a lovely Wednesday evening with 2 people who I met via Twitter. They had never been to BIALL, and were relative new-comers to legal librarianship so it was great to make that connection.
  • Be the early-bird! Avoid those ‘daunting’ groups of people by arriving at the workshop/seminar/keynote early. Be the one that people ask to join, and then open a conversation with them.
  • Take time out! Programmes are designed to fill every minute of the day but recognise that it is ok to have a break. Many venues are aware of this and provide a safe, quiet space so whether this is 20 mins of quiet time, an hour in the hotel pool, or having a cup of tea with a new friend… do what feels right for you.
  • Look after your health! With tiny hotel coffee cups and limited access to water, it is easy to get dehydrated. Take a refillable bottle and drink plenty of decaffeinated liquids throughout the day. Many exhibitors offer branded water bottles - so go chat to the vendors!
  • It takes two! Remember that other people might be just as nervous as you, so strike up a conversation with the person next to you - at lunch, in a queue outside - get chatting.

We all have our coping mechanisms and if you feel comfortable doing so, please share your hints and tips with us. For convenience I've put together a list of conferences for 2020 on the Vable site. In the meantime I’m looking forward to preparing for a BIALL parallel session … tell us which conference you’re looking forward to.

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