How to make use of scientific (or similar) conferences (online too).

Abstract.

This memo contains a checklist that I created during preparation for a conference. It is by no means exhaustive, necessary or sufficient.

Before the conference.

Make a memory bank file for the conference.

Prepare the slides. (Not necessarily a pptx/odp/pdf, maybe imaginary slides)

Record yourself while your are preparing for the talk. You can publish the video later.

For every day of the conference, read X papers you like most, extensively.

You need to calibrate the parameter X. For me X=1, but if you are smart this may be successful with X>1.

The following sub-items are to be performed for each of the X papers.

Read the text, and understand it as thoroughly as you can.

Prepare at least one meaningful question you will ask the author at the presentation.

This question is for the author, not for you. You are expected to understand the paper well enough any way. This question is needed to:

  • Make the audience understand the speech better.
  • Make the author look more confident.
  • Make the author like your assistive behaviour.

Prepare a list of questions you will be asking the author after (or before?) the presentation.

  • Maybe one question that seems difficult, but is easy for the author to answer, to make him feel that you understand the subject area.
  • The rest of the questions may be about the paper details, just try to make sure that they are not from among those that can be solved just by careful reading.

Select Y presentations you want to go to.

You need to calibrate the Y. I think that 4 is a realistic number. Add one well-read paper from the previous headline. For a three-day conference this makes 15 presentations. Already a lot.

Prepare your business cards.

  • (Optional) Paper business cards. You can send them to your friends by snail-mail.
  • Website business card with your CV and why you are interesting.
  • LinkedIn profile for recruiters.
  • GitLab/GitHub/SourceForge/BitBucket/Savannah, any worksharing service.

Formulate your goals for visiting the conference.

A non-exhaustive list:

  • Promote your concrete work. (paper, software, service, website, project)
  • Promote yourself. (employee, collaborator, find a job)
  • Find a concrete missing puzzle piece for your work. (idea, product, service, employee)
  • Find an abstract person. (friend, consultant, mentor, teacher, well-connected person)
  • Hang out with likeminded people.

Research the people you want to hang out with, according to the previous headline.

  • List of organisers and committees.
  • List of presenters.
  • (Sometimes) conferences publish lists of participants.
  • Lists of sponsoring companies.

Prepare a directory for making screenshots and a file for notes.

As a homework, paste your Twitter, GitLab, account links, and other Social Media links at the top of the file.

On the conference.

Check the equipment 1 hour before the start. Mitigate if broken.

  • Laptop
  • Smartphone
  • Power bank
  • Storage space
  • Internet connection
  • VPN
  • Cloud

Find the speakers that will be delivering the talks you are interested in. (Offline conferences)

Make a photo with them. It is an easy way to remember what they look like and add to your BBDB.

Find out clearly, which nickname hides which person. (Offline conferences)

Write it down into the BBDB.

Attend the talks you have prepared for.

Ask the questions you have in your homework at the Q&A.

Between the interesting talks, catch interesting people at the sidelines and engage with them.

How is this even done at the video conferences? “Private rooms” just sound creepy. At chat-based conferences?

After the conference.

Update the notes for the papers you found interesting.

Remove the notes that proved to be useless.

Write follow-up emails to people you are still interested in.

Write a conference summary into your memory bank.

Archive the memory bank.

Clean the messy references.

  • Useless business cards.
  • Useless social network connections.
  • ?