Publish & Prosper

How to Survive (and Thrive) at Conferences and Events

May 01, 2024 Matt Briel & Lauren Vassallo Season 1 Episode 23
How to Survive (and Thrive) at Conferences and Events
Publish & Prosper
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Publish & Prosper
How to Survive (and Thrive) at Conferences and Events
May 01, 2024 Season 1 Episode 23
Matt Briel & Lauren Vassallo

In this episode, Matt & Lauren share their favorite survival tips for attending author and creator conferences! From packing essential supplies to putting your health first, hear our team’s must-haves and must-dos for anyone trying to maximize their time at a conference. 

Dive Deeper

💡 Read more about Why Creator Events Are a Must for Creators & Entrepreneurs

💡 Watch Sessions from CEX 2023

💡 Learn More About Some Events We’ll Be Attending in 2024

Sound Bites From This Episode

🎙️ [8:23] “You should always go as yourself and be comfortable. But again, if yourself is a blazer, a t-shirt, jeans, and some tennis shoes, then you should take a hard look in the mirror.”

🎙️ [26:22] “We've talked about one of the benefits of attending events is networking and having those networking and connecting opportunities. And if that's something that, like me, you dread the idea of doing that, having the chance to schedule networking opportunities ahead of time kind of takes some of that pressure off of just approaching strangers.”

🎙️ [38:38] “What are your goals for attending this event? Don't lose sight of that. It's easy to get to an event, especially if you've never been to it before, and it turns out to be a really cool one. You kind of lose sight of why you're there and you get sidetracked with a lot of things and just try to remember why you're there, what you're hoping to get out of it.”

Send us a Text Message.

💀 Can’t wait for our next episode? Check out our Resources page for links to our blog,
our YouTube channel, and more.
💀 Find us on Facebook, X, Instagram, and LinkedIn at luludotcom!
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Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, Matt & Lauren share their favorite survival tips for attending author and creator conferences! From packing essential supplies to putting your health first, hear our team’s must-haves and must-dos for anyone trying to maximize their time at a conference. 

Dive Deeper

💡 Read more about Why Creator Events Are a Must for Creators & Entrepreneurs

💡 Watch Sessions from CEX 2023

💡 Learn More About Some Events We’ll Be Attending in 2024

Sound Bites From This Episode

🎙️ [8:23] “You should always go as yourself and be comfortable. But again, if yourself is a blazer, a t-shirt, jeans, and some tennis shoes, then you should take a hard look in the mirror.”

🎙️ [26:22] “We've talked about one of the benefits of attending events is networking and having those networking and connecting opportunities. And if that's something that, like me, you dread the idea of doing that, having the chance to schedule networking opportunities ahead of time kind of takes some of that pressure off of just approaching strangers.”

🎙️ [38:38] “What are your goals for attending this event? Don't lose sight of that. It's easy to get to an event, especially if you've never been to it before, and it turns out to be a really cool one. You kind of lose sight of why you're there and you get sidetracked with a lot of things and just try to remember why you're there, what you're hoping to get out of it.”

Send us a Text Message.

💀 Can’t wait for our next episode? Check out our Resources page for links to our blog,
our YouTube channel, and more.
💀 Find us on Facebook, X, Instagram, and LinkedIn at luludotcom!
💀 Email us at
💀 Sign up for our mailing list.

Matt: Welcome back everybody - to all 10 of you who might have come back after the last, what 20 episodes or so. Today we're going to be talking about something a little more fun and not quite so serious. Well, I guess it depends on who you ask, but today we're going to talk about how to plan for an upcoming conference or event you might be going to, how to maximize your time at the event, and how to get the best value out of the event so that you don't feel like you just flushed a bunch of money down the toilet. 

Lauren: It's kind of a big deal and I think it's fun. I think all these are fun.

Matt: Yeah.

Lauren: I should have kept a fun count for the last episode they recorded because I said the word fun a lot. 

Matt: Well, the last one we did, wasn't that cover design? 

Lauren: No, that was the how to use customer data - 

Matt: Oh, oh, oh. 

Lauren: And how to get value out of customer data. 

Matt: Yeah. 

Lauren: But I - actually no, you're right. I said the word fun a lot in the cover design. 

Matt: Yeah, I was going to say I don't think you use the word fun in the data one. 

Lauren: Well I might have too, because let's be honest because I also find data. 

Matt: Well this one should be fun because we like events and we think there's a lot of value in events.

Lauren: Yeah. But there's also a lot of ways to do it wrong. 

Matt: That's true. 

Lauren: So. 

Matt: We've made all the mistakes we've attended over the years -

Lauren: Oh yeah.

Matt: Hundreds of events made the mistakes, also hopefully pinpointed the things to do so that you don't make the mistakes. Hopefully we'll get those out today. 

Lauren: Yeah. I mean, a lot of these, I think, are things that, you know, some people might listen to this - some people like Matt, perhaps - might listen to this and say, this is all obvious information. Why do we have to tell people any of this? They should know this already, but sometimes it's nice to just hear it. Sometimes it's nice to have that confirmation from people. And also some people like me are like, want to know as much as possible ahead of time. So it's nice to have a little somebody in your head saying, I know you think that it's really important for you to look cool at this conference. So you should wear those new high heel boots that you bought, but you absolutely should not do that. You should, in fact, absolutely wear comfortable shoes, so. 

Matt: Yeah. I mean, and if you're going to wear hideous Crocs, at least put them in sport mode so you can get to and from your sessions quickly. 

Lauren: I did wear Crocs to, uh, Social Media Marketing World last year, cause it was the day that it was torrentially downpouring and I didn't have - all of the shoes that I had on that trip with me were like canvas sneakers.

Matt: Wait.

Lauren: Except for one pair.

Matt: Hold on a second. 

Lauren: Okay. 

Matt: I need to unpack this for a minute. So it was raining and your choice was between closed toed shoes that could possibly get wet or Crocs that are full of holes like Swiss cheese, where you know water's coming in? 

Lauren: Yes. 

Matt: And you chose the Crocs. 

Lauren: Yes. 

Matt: For reasons… why? 

Lauren: Because the Crocs, I could have dried them once I got to the conference center. 

Matt: But what about your socks that got absolutely soaked because there's holes all throughout the Crocs. 

Lauren: I brought a second, I brought a spare pair of socks with me. 

Matt: Huh.

Lauren: I had to walk to the conference center, so I knew I was going to get just completely soaked the whole way. And if you're wearing Keds, which were one of my other choices available to me. Like those, those take hours to dry. I've made that mistake before wearing Keds to Disney and it rains and then they're soaked and your feet are soaked for the rest of the day. So at least Crocs, I was able to like get everything dry and then be comfortable around the conference center the rest of the day. 

Matt: So does that mean that our first tip is to always check the weather before you go? 

Lauren: That's actually a great tip. 

Matt: Yeah.

Lauren: Yeah, don't assume that just because you're going to California in March the weather is going to be pleasant the whole time you're there. You might, in fact, wind up spending two weeks in California where at least once a day somebody says to you ‘this is the most rain we've had in California in the last nine months.’


Matt: So why don't we start with packing like a pro? 

Lauren: All right. 

Matt: Since we've already touched on that. 

Lauren: All right, let's do it.

Matt: It might sound obvious yes, but many times we get wrapped up in what we're doing our day-to-day stuff, other types of pre-conference preparations and we don't think to check the weather a couple of days in advance to inform what we do pack. As Lauren stated, where if it does show rain we can take the proper shoes and an umbrella or some of the other things you might need. 

Lauren: Yeah yeah.

Matt: What else regarding packing? 

Lauren: I'm a baby and I'm always cold. That being said, I've yet to find a conference center anywhere in the continental US that has, like, a consistent temperature the entire time you're there. Which I guess makes sense. You've got a lot of people, you're packing people into these small conference rooms or these massive conference rooms are trying to overcompensate with air conditioning, blah, blah, blah. So my always - this is like one of my go to absolutely must have for a conference is layers. The last thing that you want is to be sitting in a really, really swelteringly hot room and you're like, well, I'm wearing this nice cozy sweater that I packed because it was supposed to be cold because I checked the weather and now I'm dying in here. 

Matt: I would agree with the statement that most of the conferences and events and things that I've been to, they do seem a little more cold than normal. And then at times, yes, warm, but you said continental US, I would extend that. We've done London Book Fair several times and even there, you know, you would think with the amount of people in there, you would hit warm spells no matter what time of the year it was, but it stays pretty chilly too. So having a layer, a light jacket or a cardigan or something. 

I'm going to go ahead and go on the offensive here and say not a blazer. A blazer does not count as a fashion choice or a functional choice as a layer for warmth. And in fact, I'm going to go a step further and encourage the hate mail. But whoever in the history of time and fashion put it out there that it was a good idea to wear a blazer with a t-shirt and blue jeans was a stone cold liar. Please stop doing this. Gentlemen, we're better than this. No more blazers, jeans, t-shirts and shoes. 

Lauren: He's so serious right now. 

Matt: I am. 

Lauren: I cannot emphasize enough how dead serious he is. 

Matt: I am dead ass serious. 

Lauren: Okay. I do actually, I think that's, I'm not gonna disagree or agree, but I'll let Matt speak for himself for that one. I think that is probably actually like a larger point is to… you want to match the vibe of the conference that you're attending. 

Matt: Why? 

Lauren: Because like you're just giving yourself another reason to feel discomfort. I don't know. Maybe this is a thing that's much more for women than men. I don't know. 

Matt: It could be. 

Lauren: But for me, there's nothing quite like that feeling of, ‘oh God, I'm like super underdressed. Everyone else is here in like a suit. or like a dress and pumps or something like that.’ 

Matt: What are you - 

Lauren: And I'm here in like - 

Matt: What are you doing at a conference where everybody's in suits, dresses and pumps? 

Lauren: I’m, well, I would - I've never been to one of those 

Matt: Okay.

Lauren: And I never want to go to one of those. But depending on what kind of conference you're attending, like that's very possible. You don't want to be super, super underdressed. You also don't want to be super, super overdressed. You don't want to be the only person there in a suit and tie. 

Matt: Yeah. So leave the blazer at home in your closet. 

Lauren: Yeah. These are things to keep in mind when you're like packing and getting ready for a conference.

Matt: Yep. 

Lauren: You know, you want to be comfortable, and that includes like the mentality of oh man, I seriously missed the memo on this. I've even been to - is it Content Marketing World that's like really big on the color orange? And I like didn't know - I didn't know that was a thing until like the first time I was there, and I said why is everyone wearing orange, like, did I miss a memo? 

Matt: That's all Joe Pulizzi’s fault. I don't know why they stuck with that, but yes they did, and I would encourage you not to go with the flow on that one.

Lauren: I don't think I own orange, to be honest. 

Matt: Yeah, well, I think the average human does not own much orange. Yes, I agree. But again, I think the important thing here is layers. Understand that or a layer like bring a zip up hooded sweatshirt or a cardigan or something that you can take on and off very easily. Ban the blazer. Leave that crap at home. Nobody needs to see it. I don't agree with Lauren that you need to match the vibe of the conference. A, you might not know what the vibe of the conference is until you get there. And B, You should always go as yourself and be comfortable. But again, if yourself is a blazer, a t-shirt, jeans, and some tennis shoes, then you should take a hard look in the mirror. 

Lauren: I was so prepared to disagree with you, but I actually cannot disagree with the point ‘you should always go as yourself.’

Matt: Thank you. 

Lauren: All right. Well, okay. Anyway, packing isn't just - we're not just talking about what do you bring clothing-wise to the conference. You're also going to want to make sure that you have… I want to say essentials on hand with you, you know -

Matt: Hand sanitizer.

Lauren: Yes, absolutely.

Matt: Always.

Lauren: Always, always, always.

Matt: Snacks. 

Lauren: Snacks for sure. Don't assume that you're going to have opportunities to run out and get snacks throughout the day. Which, maybe because we're like super food based kids, I am very aware of the fact that I have not eaten lunch before recording this episode. But it is actually, I think very important to stay energized throughout the day at a conference. 

Matt: Yeah. 

Lauren: You are going to be running yourself ragged. That's kind of an unavoidable part of this. So do whatever you can. Granola bars in your bag, candy, if that's more your bag, water, stay hydrated. You're going to be talking to a lot of people. You're going to be walking around. Definitely stay hydrated. I don't drink coffee, so I always have to figure out creative ways to get energy in other ways. I don't get the, ‘oh, we're going to take a 20 minute walk to a coffee shop and take a break and get some coffee.’ I'm always like, all right, well, while you guys are doing that, I'm gonna figure out an alternative. 

Matt: That's because there are no Monster shops. 

Lauren: There is actually one in Madison Square Garden.

Matt: Oh my God. 

Lauren: When I was there for the Fall Out Boy concert a couple of weeks ago, there is a little stand inside the Garden now that says Monster Bodega. Yes, I did take a picture in front of it. Yeah, it's perfect. It's perfect for me. 

Matt: Yeah, you know, I guess I'm still to this day surprised that you've never really taken on coffee. 

Lauren: I don't like the way it smells. And that's... 

Matt: God, that's wild, because most people who don't drink coffee still really like the way it smells. And a lot of people I know that do drink coffee got into coffee because of the way that it smells. 

Lauren: Yeah. Yeah, I get that. I wish I liked it. It would make my life a lot easier, but I don't like the way it smells and it's really hard to like the taste of something that you don't like the smell of. 

Matt: Yeah, no, that's fair. 100%. 

Lauren: Yeah. 

Matt: All right. So make sure you have essentials, essentials, meaning snacks, hand sanitizer, an extra pen, maybe things like that. You can't assume that any of those things will be available at whatever conference or event you're going to. Sometimes they are, but for the most part, those types of things are few and far between. 

Lauren: Yeah, this is kind of jumping ahead a little bit, but one of the things that I always like to do the day that I arrive at a conference is kind of get a lay of the land around the convention center and the hotel that I'm staying at. So you're going to want to scope out: is there a really good coffee spot that you want to go to? Is there a drug store where you can go for the inevitable last minute things that you forgot to pack, or to stock up on some snacks and supplies and stuff like that? If you're me and Matt, who on more than one occasion have been still at the airport and are already looking up where there are any bookstores nearby to wherever we're staying or wherever we're going. Or also if you're me and Matt and the rest of our team looking up the best food options immediately nearby wherever you're going because obviously dinner is a priority at all times. 

Matt: I think you've skipped ahead. I do want to point out one other thing though - 

Lauren: Okay. 

Matt: That falls under the category of packing. 

Lauren: Go for it. 

Lauren: Because it was a really good point that you made in the outline. But it's very true and I think this is one we often forget. Trying to leave a little bit of space in your luggage because you may come back with a few things. As much as you say, no, I'm just going to pack what I need and go, and I'm not going to bring back anything. Most often there is… various different types of things being handed out at the conference, goodie bags, things like that. You may have a little bit of free time one evening after the conference and you might, like Lauren and I, stop by a bookstore and find a book or two you want.

Lauren: Or pick one up from one of the speakers - 

Matt: Sure. 

Lauren: That you meet at the conference. 

Matt: Yeah. So leaving a little bit of space in there is helpful. Or if you don't take us up on our tip about packing something to layer and you get there and you're cold and you need to buy a sweatshirt, which I've done.

Lauren: Same.

Matt: You need to have room in your suitcase to bring it back. So leave yourself a little bit of room in there. That's always helpful. 

Lauren: I actually have to give credit to that one. I asked the whole marketing team last week, I sent out an email to the whole team and was like, ‘hey, we're doing this episode on prepping for events and wanted to see what everyone's favorite tips are for events.’ So that tip came directly from Paul. Who also informed me last week that we both got his title wrong in the recent episode where we were trying to figure out what his job title is. 

Matt: What is his title? 

Lauren: I don't know. 

Matt: I'm going to change it. 

Lauren: I wasn't listening when he told me.

Matt: Alright.

Lauren: But he did say that we both got it wrong. And I was unsurprised by that reveal. 

Matt: Yeah. But he's also the one that gave you the tip about wearing a blazer. So that cancels out. 

Lauren: That's true. He gave me a very mixed bag of tips, so.

Matt: He probably did that on purpose. 

Lauren: Oh, I have no doubt about that, but that's fine. 


Lauren: Other things that I would kind of say that this is going to go adjacent to packing, is preparing your tech that you're going to bring with you. So this one's kind of a given, note-taking: kind of a big deal at conferences. If you're attending a conference, chances are you're trying to take notes at the sessions that you're going to. 

Matt: Should be. 

Lauren: It should be. It can be the most difficult part sometimes. Sometimes that's just logistically, like I've been to conferences where they have you crammed into a room where the seats are right up against each other and you have to figure out how to balance your laptop on your lap and also make room for your backpack that you're walking around with and the coffee that you picked up earlier and your water bottle and all the different things that you have going on in this like very small cramped tight space and you got to figure out how to balance all that and take notes. And then I've been to other conferences where every single person there has the option of sitting at a nice long table that’s facing the speakers. You can probably tell which one of those I like better just based on the description alone.

But still it's you know, it's something that I think is is really important. That's something that never occurred to me until the first time that I went to a conference and I had this moment of trying to figure out like oh, how do I do this? how do I efficiently take notes? And that's not something that we can really answer for you, because everyone obviously has a different way of doing that. I always see people at conferences that are using their iPad to take notes. I'm so jealous of this when I see people doing it because they will take pictures of the slides using the iPad and then just immediately insert that into their notes and then keep going with notes. And I always look at that and I'm like, that's absolutely the right way to do that. I can't do that. I can't, whether I'm trying to type on my iPad or use the Apple Pencil on my iPad, I just cannot do it fast enough to keep up with whatever session I'm attending. 

Matt: I'm terrible at note-taking. But in those instances what I would do is as I'm taking notes, I would snap a photo of that slide real quick. And in my notes, I would write ‘see photo number’ and I would put whatever number that photo was so far for the conference. And that usually worked for me. I also, I got in the habit of not taking a lot of photos of slides after a while because I realized that when I first started going to a lot of conferences, whether they were marketing or publishing or anything else, I would take a lot of photos of slides. And then I found two things. One is that I rarely went back and looked at them because as it turned out, whatever was on that slide wasn't as important as what I actually wrote in my notes. But number two, in many, if not most cases, those slide decks were actually made available to the attendees. 

Lauren: Yes.

Matt: So I was able to go back and just get the entire deck anyways. But yeah, if you don't have an iPad, which I agree, it seems like a more efficient way to do things outside of how you and I do it, which is like total analog luddites with pen and paper. But you can just ‘see photo number,’ snap that photo real quick, and make sure you note which number that was that you've taken for the event so far. 

Lauren: Yeah. That was one of the things that somebody said was one of their favorite tips. If you know that you're going to be getting access to the presentations after the fact, whether it's the presenter themselves saying, you know, I'll share the slide deck at the end of this, or if you know that your ticket to the conference included recordings of all the sessions after the fact, and you know you're going to have the opportunity to go back and look at these things again. I don't remember who it was, I'm sorry to my team that I'm stealing this from, but somebody said like they'll just take notes on… that are reminder notes of the key details of things that they want to go back and look into more when they go ahead and rewatch the recording. Which I thought was probably a clever way to also like get the salient points down and then also like avoid burnout because you're not trying to absorb all of this information at the same time. You're just making notes about, ‘okay, these are the key details from this session that I want to remember and I want to go dive deeper into once I'm back from this conference and have calmed down a little bit and have recovered from the information overload that's happening right now.’ 

Matt: Yeah.

Lauren: Figure out what works for you and make sure that you have the tools that you need ahead of time. You're also - assuming that you're not going to go with the analog version of pen and paper and a notebook - make sure that you have your chargers with you. Bring them to the conference center. You're always going to see people plugging their laptop in. You see people all the time camped out on the floor in the hallway outside the bathroom with their laptops plugged in. Do what you gotta do. 

Matt: Which, I also can't think of a grosser place to camp out.

Lauren: I know. 

Matt: In front of the bathroom.

Lauren: I know.

Matt: That's just the germaphobe in me. 

Lauren: No, I get it. 

Matt: That's just not where I want to be. But yeah, bring your charger, find a place, preferably not in front of the bathroom and get charged up. 

Lauren: Yeah. And on that similar note, do not count on conference center wifi. I've been to conferences that had great wifi. I've been to conferences that had such terrible wifi and poor cell service to the point where my phone was in emergency mode and there was no wifi to connect to, so I was completely completely offline for everything. 

Matt: Are you sure that was a conference? 

Lauren: Yeah, you were there too. 

Matt: Oh. I was thinking you might have actually stumbled your way into some sort of hostage situation, but okay. Well, she's right. Yeah, don't count on the wifi. And as a company organization that owns an event also, and understands that sometimes the costs to provide certain things can be extremely expensive for event promoters and or event organizers. Yeah. Sometimes the wifi is just cost prohibitive. So they don't provide it or they provide the base model. And by the time you get a hundred people or more pulling off of it, it just turns to complete garbage. 

Lauren: Yeah. I mean, I get it. I totally understand like why that would be, and especially even if it is being provided to you when you have that many people all trying to use this wifi in a finite amount of space, like it makes sense. But this is another one of those things that I never would have thought about until the first time that I experienced this at a conference. Take the most important information and make sure that it's available to you in an offline format. So for me, what I will always do before a conference is I'll take the time to go through the agenda and pick out exactly which sessions that I want to attend. And then I will make a Google Doc where I will preemptively outline all the sessions that I'm planning on attending. Like I'll just do literally, it'll just be like Day One, 10 AM, title of the session, person who's giving it, and what room it's supposed to be in. And I'll have that all in one doc and that's the doc where I'll take my notes for those individual sessions in. But I'll make sure that I have that Google Doc available offline. 

Matt: Yeah. 

Lauren: So that even if my laptop isn't connected to the wifi or my hotspot or whatever the case is, I can still have access to the important details that I need. 


Matt: Yeah, I like the idea, obviously, of trying to get your hands on the agenda and schedule ahead of time. I think most people probably do this anyways. If for no other reason, just sheer curiosity. And in fact, I think a lot of people make the decision on whether or not to attend an event based on that schedule and agenda. 

Lauren: Sure. 

Matt: But it should probably still be said and noted. Like you said, that if you don't do this or you didn't think about this, you should absolutely look at the agenda and schedule before you get there. Even if it's just the night before the first day and you're in your hotel room and figure that out. Because I'm somebody who doesn't always plan and I've certainly found myself at a large conference, uh, without a plan and just thought, you know what, I'm just going to see what I feel each moment of the day. 

Lauren: Can confirm. 

Matt: And, um, that just turns to complete chaos very quickly. So absolutely having a plan, but also understanding that you might have to adjust your plan a little bit. Sometimes the conference has an issue and that particular session is no longer available, maybe the speaker's flights got canceled, things like that. So. It never hurts, also, to have an idea of what a backup session might be for each slot. And if you're like Lauren and you do keep lots of spreadsheets and documents and things that should be no problem to list in there. Somebody like me, you might just want to have it in the back of your mind that if this session doesn't go through, I'm going to go to this one over here or something like that. Yeah, I agree. Having a plan, understanding what's going on and where you're going to find the most value, I think is probably the smartest thing you could do.

Lauren: I think it's important to plan that out ahead of time. And, you know, like Matt said, I do this very, very often I'll do this on the plane on the way to the conference or in the airport when I have time to kill in the airport before going to a conference. I'm not saying you have to do this a month ahead of time, but just taking that time to go through the schedule and look at it. Some conferences that you attend, you actually do have to sign up for which sessions you wanna go to.

Matt: Yes, yeah.

Lauren: And they will fill up, and then you won't get to go. If you wait until the day of to be like, oh, okay, let me see what sessions I'm going to today. Oh, all the ones that I wanted to go to are full because they were ones that you had to sign up in advance. 

Matt: I've definitely made that mistake a few times and either it just wasn't very clear through the conference marketing materials and assets or I just didn't bother to do it. Either way, Lauren's right, if you see that they say they require an RSVP to each session, you should do it. 

Lauren: Yeah. 

Matt: For sure. 

Lauren Yes. 

Matt: Don't count on getting there and it's like, oh, you know, there'll be a few spaces left nine times out of 10. If they're telling you to RSVP, they know something you don't. And that means they booked a smaller room than they probably should have. And they know it's going to fill up. So you should RSVP. 

Lauren: Yeah. And you know, like Matt said, with last minute changes to the schedule, what happens if you don't get into a session that you were planning on getting into, having that backup option is helpful. Or the opposite of that, make sure that if there's a top priority session, if you're like, this is, this is my number one session. I have to go to this one. Know that ahead of time, know which sessions are your top priority sessions and make sure that you are available to go to them. Cause that's what you're paying for. Right? Like that's the whole point of you going to this is that you really wanted to be at this session or hear this speaker or learn about this topic. Make sure that you're aware of when it's happening, where it's happening, and that you have done whatever you need to do to make sure you are attending that session.

Matt: Yeah. And Lauren uses big spreadsheets and documents and things like that. I know she also uses the event app when it's available at times. So a lot of this can be done in the app if they're using a pretty decent one. And some of the apps have gotten pretty user friendly and intuitive. So a lot of this you could do inside of the event app. So always look to see if they have one or they're providing one because it may save you the trouble of creating a lot of these things on your own.

Lauren: Yeah, a lot of the conferences that have apps these days, if you're going through the agenda in there, you can hit a button to add it to your agenda. And then now you've got like the customized version of it for yourself that you've got your whole day mapped out just like that.

Matt: Yeah. 

Lauren: A lot easier than me doing it manually, but I'm a little psycho and I like to do that. So it's fine. I guess maybe last when it comes to planning out what you want to do for the actual days that you're attending the conference is don't forget to build breaks in. I think that's really important and I think that's one of those things that's hard, especially if you're like… if you've spent a lot of money to attend this conference, you're going to find yourself torn between that ‘I spent a lot of money to be here. I want to make sure that I'm getting every minute worth of value from this experience. I don't want to miss anything.’ It can be hard and it can be… you feel very guilty about being like, there's no session in this window of time that I really am excited about going to, or like, I'm just so tired at this point that I need to go get a cup of coffee or I need to go like walk outside in the fresh air for five minutes. And I just need to take a break from people for a little while. You have to take those breaks. You have to do it. 

Matt: Well, the most important one too is lunch. Yes. That's the most important part of the day.

Lauren: Obviously. 

Matt: So always make sure you have a plan for lunch.

Lauren: Like seriously jokes aside, like it is actually the most important. 

Matt: Yeah, there's no kidding on my part. No, that's all I ever care about, lunch. 

Lauren: Well, you say that, it's 12:25. What are we doing for lunch?

Matt: I already ate. See, fully covered. You know me better than that. 

Lauren: I know that's so true. 

Matt: Well. 


Lauren: I know. All right. Well, whatever you're doing, figure it out and figure out - this is again ahead of time, is the conference including lunch in your ticket or do you have to figure that out on your own? And if you do have to figure that out on your own - how much time do you have? Is it something that you should plan ahead and bring food with you to the convention center? Do you have long enough that you can go out and grab a bite to eat somewhere else? Maybe you want to try to network with some people and make plans to meet up with some other creators in your industry for lunch one of the days during the conference. 

Matt: Yeah, I think that's actually a great tip. And I think that that's something that a lot of people probably don't think about. If you know you're going to be… I don't know, pick a city, let's say Boston, for a particular event and you happen to know of or internet friends with or acquaintances with some other creators, authors, entrepreneurs, reach out and see if they'd like to meet up for a cup of coffee or something while you're in town. Maximize the amount of time that you're away from home. And so if you can use a little bit of that time to again, meet up with another fellow author or creator or entrepreneur or somebody do so. Solidify those relationships. Maybe, uh, something comes of that later on down the road and any opportunity you can take to strengthen that relationship is a good one. 

Lauren: Yeah we've talked about one of the benefits of attending events is networking and having those networking and connecting opportunities. And if that's something that, like me, you dread the idea of doing that, having the chance to schedule networking opportunities ahead of time kind of takes some of that pressure off of just approaching strangers. Like I - one of the tips that one of the women on our team suggested was that standing in line is a great place to make friends at conventions. Just strike up a conversation with the person standing next to you in the coffee line or something like that. And I read that tip out loud and I was like, I'm feeling anxious just thinking about doing that right now. 

Matt: I know who that is, cause I've seen her do it. You don't even have to tell me who it is. I know who it is. I've watched her do it before.

Lauren: Some people are great at that. 

Matt: She's very good at it. 

Lauren: And some people are like having heart palpitations, just thinking about doing that. 

Matt: Was it our PR manager? 

Lauren: Yes, it was. 

Matt: Yeah, that's why she's our PR manager. 

Lauren: Exactly. 

Matt: Yeah.

Lauren: If that's something that gives you agita, the very idea of it, then maybe consider reaching out to people ahead of time. And you can do that with people that you know, from the industry, people that you're hoping to get to know better. You can do that using social media. Follow the conference hashtag. If there’s a Facebook Group or some kind of fan page that's for people attending the event, that's a great way for you to connect with people that are going to be there. Also, the conference app or a lot of the ones that have apps, there is usually a messaging feature in there or like a meetup scheduling feature in there where people will go in there and say, hey, I want to do a meetup of… Swifties that are also content marketing managers that are going to be at this conference and we're going to do a cocktail hour and talk about the Tortured Poets Department, who wants to come? That's all going to be in that app that you're looking for. So that's a great way - 

Matt: Look at you finding a way to drop the new album in there.

Lauren: I'm actually surprised that it took me this long to do it. 

Matt: I guess that's fair too. All right. 

Lauren: It's the only thing I've talked about for the last three days. 

Matt: She's got it out of her system, ladies and gentlemen. 

Lauren: Yes, I did. 

Matt: We can move forward now. 

Lauren: Yes, we can. 

Matt: It's also important though to note that aside from just trying to schedule meetups and networking time with individuals, other creators, acquaintances, you know, whatever that might be. Check the exhibitor list. There might actually be one or two brands there exhibiting that you wanted to learn more about or might be doing something that you would want to learn some more information about that could make your life easier. Or maybe you just want to check them out because they usually bring cool free stuff. Who knows? But don't forget there are usually exhibitors there at most events and you might find something useful. 

Lauren: Yeah. And you might find an opportunity to connect with people in a different way. Connecting with your peers is a great way to build your network. But even something like, like, hey, I heard Lulu is going to be an exhibitor at this event. And I really want to meet these two weirdos that host this podcast and see if maybe they ever want to have a guest on the podcast. Okay, reach out to us. At your own risk. But, you know, let’s see what happens. 

Matt: We have the permanent autoresponder on our email right now. No, I’m just kidding, we don't. Yeah, sure. Why not reach out?

Lauren: Yeah, who knows?

Matt: I'm almost always down to talk to anybody if there's good coffee involved. So I can be bribed is what I'm saying. 

Lauren: I don't know what my bribe would be. 

Matt: It's easy for me. I know how to bribe you. I also know how to motivate you with fear. I know the things that you're not a big fan of. 

Lauren: That was so ominous, but also probably true. 

Matt: Let's hope our head of HR doesn't listen to this podcast. 

Lauren: Okay, fair enough. 


Lauren: You know what? I feel like that is a great segue into the last thing that I wanted to talk about here, which is to remember to put your health first when you're at a conference like this. 

Matt: You’re welcome. 

Lauren: And I'm actually gonna make sure that we're including mental health in that because, being motivated by fear… So never forget the time that Matt very much in passing said to me, ‘oh, by the way, I have something that I need to talk to you about later. We’ve got to find some time to sit down later and have a conversation.’ And it was day one of a three day conference in Boise, Idaho. And I spent the full 24 hours after that just being like, ‘there's no way he would have flown me all the way to Idaho just to fire me. Like I'm not getting fired. I'm not getting…’ and it was something totally innocuous, it was something not even memorable. But I did definitely spend a full 24 hours being like, is this my last meal? Like, is this, is this, am I just going to get left behind in Idaho and find my own way home? 

Matt: Just keeping you on your toes for that first day. 

Lauren: And it worked. 

Matt: And make sure you didn't fall asleep. 

Lauren: It really worked. 

Matt: There you go.

Lauren: It worked. So, but no, for real, when you're attending a conference, I mean, I feel like it's a given. Everybody knows these things are like a breeding ground for germs. So hand sanitizer, Emergen-c, travel pack of Lysol wipes, whatever you need to do to make yourself feel comfortable and safe and stay healthy, definitely that. But also, like I said, when it comes to your mental health attending these things, burning yourself out is not going to, like burning the candle at both ends so that you can maximize your experience at this conference and your time at this conference is gonna have the opposite effect actually. Because if you reach the point where you're exhausted, you're not getting enough sleep, you've maxed out your social battery, you're scraping the bottom of the barrel here, your brain is going to stop processing the information that you're getting presented with and you're not going to remember all the things that you're learning and you're not going to process it and you're not going to actually get any value from the conference. Find that balance, find your limits, whatever they are and stick to it. Get a good night of sleep. Make sure that you're as comfortable as you can be. I don't know. 

Matt: Yeah. 

Lauren: Like, I don’t - 

Matt: I'm gonna back up for a second.

Lauren: Okay.

Matt: Because I still maintain and most people in my team know this, especially if they travel with me: one of the best pieces of advice I ever got, or tips I should say, was years and years ago at a conference. And this particular conference they would have these, I forgot what they called them, but in between each session on the main stage, they would allow people to come up and get… I want to say it was three minutes to do a mini presentation on whatever they wanted. These were obviously pre-approved ahead of time. So if you'd never been on a stage before, or you didn't have a full presentation of anything, but you wanted to do like a quick three minute presentation on something, you could submit. And if you were chosen, you were allowed to do it. And most of them were probably what you would think. Not much of anything. But one person got up and spent the three minutes talking about how to basically never get sick when you travel again. And, uh, that particular conference, that tip and maybe a couple of other things around SEO is what I took away from it. But I've used them ever since and I can't remember the last time I got sick while traveling or after traveling. And it was the simple understanding that the two dirtiest places in the world - in the world - are your hotel room and the airplane you're getting on. 

And so their advice, or their tip, was when you get on the plane, no matter how crazy you think you look, take a Lysol wipe, wipe down the handrests where your hands are gonna be the whole time. Wipe down the little knob on the tray that folds down in front of you because everybody touches that little knob. Wipe down the tray because babies get changed on those things. All kinds of things happen there. Wipe down the TV screen that you're going to be touching the whole time. Basically anything that you think your hands will touch, wipe it down with a Lysol wipe. 

And then when you get to your hotel room, every single handle in that room, door handles, bathroom door handles, the toilet handle, the handles on the sinks, wipe those down with a Lysol wipe. And most importantly, the number one dirtiest place ever, and there was some fact to support this, is the remote control of the TV in a hotel room. It is the most often missed item when housekeeping is cleaning, and it is also something almost everybody touches when they're traveling. I make sure to thoroughly wipe down the remote control, everything in that hotel room. And just doing those couple of things, I can't remember the last time I got sick traveling or coming home from, from travel, especially conference travel where there's a lot of germs and a lot of things being touched, so. 

Lauren: That piece of information has lived rent free in my brain since like 2019. 

Matt: Yeah.

Lauren: Like the first time Matt shared that I was like, oh, I'm never going to be able to touch a hotel room remote ever again. 

Matt: I do. I just with a Lysol wipe and it made total sense because I'm the person that after the conference, my social battery is dead. And so the first thing I do is go to my hotel room, turn on the TV, start watching episodes of The Office and catching up on email. 

Lauren: Yeah.

Matt: And so I'm touching all of those things and it just made total sense. And I swear after I started doing those things, carrying that little travel pack of Lysol wipes with me, I haven't gotten sick, so. Knock on wood. 

Lauren: It's good advice. Yeah, definitely do that. It is good advice. And it is absolutely something that I think also in a post-pandemic world, people are a little bit more forgiving, because I always do that when I'm sitting on an airplane. Like when I get to an airplane seat, I always wipe down everything around me and I never get weird looks for it anymore. No one's ever looking sideways at me doing that. We've all lived through an experience where we learned that some things need to be given a little extra attention.

Matt: I still think this is one of those things though, where you could say, yes, that's common sense, but in fact, it's not.

Lauren: Yeah, yeah, that’s fair.

Matt: I mean, some of the things I've seen people do on airplanes with their bare hands is just even - 

Lauren: Ugh, god, I know. 

Matt: I just got back from California and still saw some weird stuff going on in the airplane, so. I think you're right. I think as a society, we're probably a little more cognizant of germs and things post-COVID or post-lockdowns. But to a degree, you know, I think a lot of people, they're already past that and back to their old ways of... 

Lauren: That's true. There are always stuff like that that I think about, like when I'm traveling, like I, Matt and I both have paid for TSA pre-check. We both travel often enough that we do that. And whenever I tell people that, that are familiar with the Raleigh area, they're like, does it really save you that much time going through like Raleigh airport security? It's not a big airport. Is it really that much of a difference? I always tell them I didn't pay for the expedited TSA. I paid for the specific detail about not having to take my shoes off - 

Matt: That’s right. 

Lauren - when going through, because I watch people do that. I watch people take their sandals off and go barefoot through those machines. And I want to die. Like I just want like, I can't, I can't do it. I can't do it. 

Matt: Yeah. 

Lauren: So, you know, like just those little things that people do in airports. And I'm like, do you have any idea how disgusting that must be? Like - 

Matt: I've seen somebody construct a whole ass Italian sub on a plane before, like drop the tray down in front of them off the seat and proceeded to pull baggies of different ingredients out of their backpack and put together an entire sandwich. Nothing on the fold down table, by the way. So if that thing hadn't been cleaned before he got on the plane, his entire sandwich he was constructing was all over that thing. Like people are just wild when they get in an airport or an airplane. It's almost as if they feel like they're in some other world and they can just kind of throw civility out the door. Like it's, it's crazy. 

Lauren: It’s so true.

Matt: Yeah. I mean, who would walk bare through an airport? Oh my God.

Lauren: I don't know. I don't know, but I see it all the time. It's one of my biggest pet peeves in the airport. I'm like…

Matt: We have just run off the last five listeners we had. 

Lauren: I know. 

Matt: Between the ban on blazers and don't walk through an airport barefoot. We probably just scared off the last five people we had listening. 


Lauren: All right. We'll bring it back on track because I did, actually, now I really want to know what would your quick three minute presentation at a conference be?

Matt: My quick three minute presentation would be to show up authentically. And so I would talk about how to show up as yourself, be comfortable, what to be concerned with and what not to be concerned with. 

Lauren: I'd watch that. 

Matt: It'd only be three minutes long. So it wouldn't, it wouldn't be a whole lot of time. 

Lauren: I've watched TikToks that were longer than that. 

Matt: I've sneezed longer than that. On an airplane. 

Lauren: Oh God. I'm sure everyone around you loved that. I don't know. We've derailed enough at this point that I don't know if there's any coming back from that. Did we have any other tips? Anything else that you can think of that you want to share about attending conferences?

Matt: No, I think, you know, I think what we try to convey the most is the organizational aspect of really understanding what are your goals for attending this event? Don't lose sight of that. It's easy to get to an event, especially if you've never been to it before, and it turns out to be a really cool one. You kind of lose sight of why you're there and you get sidetracked with a lot of things and just try to remember why you're there, what you're hoping to get out of it. Put some of those organizational tips into practice if you weren't going to use them already. Again, does the event have an app that you can use to organize your days and make sure you're maximizing the sessions that you want to go to for value, being aware of the closest surroundings so that if you have to leave the event to get some lunch, you know exactly where to go and you can get back in time so you're not late. And, you know, some of the things that help keep yourself healthy, and pack appropriately. I think, again, like you said at the top of this, a lot of this could be construed as common sense, but some of those things I think people might not just think about. When they’re already busy with other things and trying to get ready for an event. 

Lauren: Yeah. I think probably the one last thing that I would add would be try to find an opportunity to do at least one thing that is unrelated to the conference that you're attending. Especially if you're in a cool city, a city that you've never been to before, a city that you probably wouldn't have a reason to go back to again. Like I referenced Boise earlier and we - the fact that I've been to Boise twice in the last few years is wild to me because why would I ever go to Idaho? But we went for a conference two years in a row and learned that Boise was a really cool city that has a lot of really good food. And I'm very grateful that I took the time to check out some really cool restaurants and do some really cool things while we were there. Because honestly, I don't see myself ever going back to Boise for funsies. So glad I had the opportunity to do that while I was there. Love going to Cleveland and getting to go to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. 

Matt: I was going to say Cleveland, yeah. 

Lauren: Like. You know, I'm really looking forward to going to Cleveland in a few weeks. And at this point, like, have some restaurants there that I really like, and maybe getting back to the, to the Rock and Roll Music. Wait, Rock and Roll. 

Matt: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. 

Lauren: Rock. Yeah, the word music is not in there. 

Matt: I don't think so. 

Lauren: Who knows? 

Matt: Maybe. 

Lauren: I just, I guess I have to go back and find out what the actual name is. But it's a good opportunity to give yourself a break and also have fun in this city that otherwise you're spending the whole time in a conference center and who wants to do that? Not me. 

Matt: Agreed. 

Lauren: Well, I guess that's it.

Matt: Yeah. So for anybody who's left listening, thank you for sticking it out. Hopefully you found some value or some good tips or at least a way to not get sick and come home healthy. If you have any complaints about the mention of Taylor Swift's new album or anything else, you can email us at Or if there's something you'd rather hear us talk about other than what we just did, you can use that same email address to let us know. 

Lauren: Yeah. And if you are going to be seeing us at any events anytime soon let us know that too. 

Matt: And put a hand sanitizer on first. 

Lauren: Yes please. Thanks for listening everyone.