I’m really looking forward to the annual Professional Speakers Australia convention on the Gold Coast coming up this weekend. Again my Master of Ceremonies skills will be put into practice – but more than that I’m looking forward to hearing and seeing fabulous speakers in action, connecting with my colleagues and learning skills to advance my profession. But one dilemma – what to wear? At least I don’t have far to go as the conference is being held in my city. But for out of towners and anyone attending a conference it is always hard to know – what to pack. I hope these tips help.
- Where and when is the first consideration. You might be attending a weekend conference on a tropical island or beach location or it may be mid-week in the city. Work out what would be appropriate for that setting. You still want to consider that you are usually attending a business conference so maybe a smart casual pants and top or dress shorts for men as opposed to boardies and thongs suitable for the beach. Business wear is usually the choice for mid-week in the city.
- Plan your outfits according to the program. If you are there for two days, two nights and on one of those nights you have a dinner or awards night – check the dress code. A LBD or other evening attire is often a safe choice to pack. Don’t forget to pack your active wear or swimwear to reenergise before or after the sessions on each day. Or if you’re staying on for sightseeing factor that in.
- The temperature of where you’re going may differ to your home town so check what that is and dress accordingly. Often conference rooms get a bit chilly so a light weight jacket or wrap to go with your clothing choices is advisable. It could also be worn on the plane on your travel day.
- Dress for comfort but also style it up. Choose shoes you can wear all day and that look good. Pack accessories. A statement necklace or colourful scarf can liven up even the plainest of outfits. Your brand image is on display even in a casual environment so dress to enhance and express who you are. Professional, creative, leader, someone who takes pride – what would that look like?
- Extra stuff. You’ll want to take notes of course. Choose what works for you – iPad, laptop or plain old note pad. Pens, chargers, power board and adaptor and plenty of business cards. Use the conference pack to put stuff in or a decent size handbag that’s not too heavy. Ladies take a smaller bag that doubles as an evening bag. Often I’ll take a plastic sleeved folder to put a copy of the program in and any handouts. I’ll use that for my itinerary and any notes and pop in receipts as I go along. You can also photograph everything, use Evernote or other myriad tech tools. Many conferences these days are paperless and have all information on an app or line. Goes without saying to pack your toiletries and cosmetics but keep in to the minimum.
- Pack light. Lay everything out, ensure that you have all you need and remember mix and match can go a long way. Carry or wear your bulkiest items while travelling and put everything else in to one carry on cabin bag. I’ve only had one major disaster when I was attending a wedding (fortunately not speaking). On the afternoon of the day I arrived in town the baggage handlers went on strike and my bag was MIA for two days. I had to find a dress at the airport and have my makeup done there by the lovely ladies at the MAC counter – wore the shoes – which didn’t match at all – that I had on. I didn’t feel or present my best that day. I now always try to travel with carry on.
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