How to Have A Better Con [Video and Transcript]

by Reid on September 24, 2013

side by side picture of Ricardo Montalban as Kahn from Wrath Of Kahn and William Shattner as James T. Kirk from the Wrath of KahnThat’s Con, not Kahn!

Conferences, workshops and events can be a blast! And they can be overwhelming and leave you exhausted and worn out.

Here’s a video (and transcript) I did with The Intimacy Dojo’s Cathy Vartuli on how to have a better conference experience!

Cathy: Do you want to have a better conference?

Reid: Yeah.  I totally do.  Most of my conference experiences are haphazard and hit or miss.  This would be really useful information.  Tell me more.

Cathy: This is Reid Mihalko from

Reid: This is Cathy Vartuli from

Cathy: There are ways you can plan ahead to make your conference a really amazing experience.

Reid: Yeah this also goes for those of you who are like “I don’t want to go to conferences.”  Weekend retreats, seminars, festivals, things like that as well.

Cathy: Yeah.  I like that you recommend people get things lined up ahead of time so they know that their partners, if they have partners or things are all taken care of at home.

Reid: Yes.  Basically if you’re going to leave basecamp, if you want to consider your home basecamp and climb the mountain of awesome conference-ness, make sure everything’s set at basecamp.  Have a date night before you leave with your partners.  If you’re single go have a Skype date or hang out with your friends, whatever you need to do to feel like everything is handled.  Also pack ideally a few days before so that you’re not rushing out the door thinking you forgot things.  Prepping can get you a long way towards having a better conference.  For those of you who are on a budget or who basically have dietary restrictions prepping ahead of time what your food’s going to be for the conference or the retreat and the festival.

Cathy: Good job (laughs).

Reid: Thanks.  Those things can be really useful because then you arrive at the conference and you have the food stuff handled.

Cathy: If you don’t have that, I love having a couple of granola bars in my bag.  Sometimes you just keep talking, you miss lunch or the line is really long.

Reid: Yeah or you stay up super late the night before you wake up hung-over and have to rush out the door to get to your first meeting of the day so you end up skipping breakfast, having little things like that prepared are super useful.  I’m also a big fan, if you can; a lot of you are super busy, rest up before you go to the conference.

Cathy: (Laughs) because you’re not going to sleep there.

Reid: Yeah assume that you are going to have such a great time that you’re going to stay up late geeking out and having lots of brain sex with people.  What can you do ahead of time to take care of your body and store up like a chipmunk ready for winter, the fact that you’re going to be completely sleep deprived?  If you’re like me kissing a gazillion people so you just got germs all over you.  What can you do to reboot and reinforce your immune system, take care of your mental and psychological health so that you can really have a great conference and enjoy yourself, which is at least most of the point of going to conferences I think?

Cathy: I think it really helps to for sleep-wise, especially if you’re sharing a room with someone you may or may not have shared a room with before, bring some earplugs and eye masks.  If they’re coming in and out of the room late as well, you can get the few hours’ sleep you can get.

Reid: Mm-hmm (affirmative) if you’re a really, really light sleeper I would suggest buying a motorcycle helmet and wearing that and putting the visor down.

Cathy: That’s so helpful.

Reid: Yeah and it will scare the hell out of your roommates, it’s awesome.

Cathy: (Laughs) well they’re not.  Drink lots of water.  A lot of us get, we may be dehydrated from drinking or just tired, but when you drink a lot of water it helps clean your system out and it gives you more energy you actually will feel more awake.

Reid: Yeah and you can start the rehydration a few days before you go to the conference.  This sounds really silly, all these tips, trust us!

Cathy: They work.

Reid: We go to a lot of conferences, anything that you can do to get that 10, 20, 40% more presence, more energy, better note taking, you end up learning more and enjoying the experience more so that over the course of your lifetime going to conferences, especially if you’re educators that do this professionally, you don’t start associated conferences with oh my God, my life is hell.  Trust us on this, super useful to do this.  My last tip for those of you who are super on a budget and for those of you who fast well, it’s a crazy tip, but it actually works really well, do some sort of master cleanse.

Start it three days before the conference and do it for the conference so that you don’t have to spend any money on food and you don’t get trapped having some weird lunch with somebody who’s like “Oh my God we should have lunch together!”  You’re like “Okay.”  Then you’re eating being like “Why am I here?  I am trapped in lunch hell.  Oh my God, somebody pull the fire alarm.”  No, you’re like “Can’t I’m not eating this weekend because I’m fasting.”  Then if they’re really awesome you can go and hang out with them and have conversations with them while they eat.  That’s a little super saver tip for my friends out there who get trapped in lunch hell.

Cathy: One thing I do occasionally to is I’ll have breakfast.  I’ll call and order room service like a burger and have it in the room, ask them to deliver it even if I’m not in the room, walk back to the room and then there’s a burger waiting in the room.

Reid: Yeah that can save you time too, especially if you have a big event where there’s tons of people and then there’s waiting lines everywhere at the restaurants.

Cathy: I don’t fast well so that’s the next solution for me.

Reid: Okay I think that’s good.

Cathy: Yeah let us know what your tips are, what’s worked for you or what problems you’ve run into.

Reid: What makes for better con for you and that’s C-O-N not K-H-A-N. 

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