Large conferences and other corporate events can be quite harrowing for some. The thought of being surrounded by hundreds of people, possibly in a strange town, and having to make a good impression or a positive contribution can be nerve-wracking. When you are feeling overwhelmed by the pre-conference jitters, follow these handy tips:
Allow yourself some time to meet and get to know a few of the colleagues that will be going to the conference with you. This way, you will have someone to chat to and get around with while you are there and between meeting and greeting fellow delegates.
Once at the conference, try to get a few people together for lunch or coffee. This is great for networking and will also ease the nerves considerably. Likewise, if others invite you, join them. By doing this, you will not feel like you are on the outside, and you may actually have the opportunity to get involved in some exciting or promising conversations.
DRESS THE PART
You need to look and feel your best in order to exude professionalism and confidence. This involves a combination of comfort and style. It does not matter how beautiful the shoes are; if you are not comfortable in them, they will detract from your glamour and confidence. In addition, ensure that your hair is clean and well-styled, your nails are neat and clean and your shoes are not scuffed. These details go a long way in helping you to make the best impression. If you are making a presentation, ensure that you look immaculate. Your shirt should be tucked in, your tie straight and no underwear visible.
There is no disputing that walking into a room full of strangers and being expected to make casual conversation is not easy. However, remembering that everyone agrees may make it a little less terrifying. Smile, walk confidently and open up by saying something light-hearted, such as, “Don’t you just love walking into a room full of strange faces? What a great start to the evening!” It is likely that they will agree wholeheartedly and be quite relieved that someone bothered to strike up a conversation with them.
CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM
While alcohol may seem like just the tonic to ease your nerves, you need to be very careful when drinking on a business trip. Coupled with stress and, possibly, an empty stomach, the consequences of drinking a little too much can be embarrassing, if not completely disastrous. Decide ahead of time how much you will allow yourself to drink (which is, ideally, only one or two drinks). Start by drinking a full glass of water, and follow each drink with another glass of water.
BE DETERMINED TO LEARN
Going to a conference with the negative attitude of being away from the office, friends and family, stuck in a boardroom and listening to ‘lectures’ is not going to help your feelings of hesitation. Rather, change your attitude. Be excited to learn new things, bring great ideas back to the workplace and be inspired. Take notes and try to apply them to yourself and your role within your organisation so that you feel fulfilled and enriched.
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