The 22 Awful Stages Of Going To A Conference

Conference season is upon us - here’s all you need to know about the most boring way to spend a day.

1. You have to wake up at a stupidly early hour because the event starts at 8.30 ON THE DOT.

Even though half the delegates arrive late and no conference in the history of human evolution has ever started or ended on time.

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2. Conferences usually take place in the basement of musty old hotels, where there’s no phone reception.

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3. You’re supposed to be networking and exchanging business cards, but it’s too early and you find it endlessly awkward peering at people’s name badges to see who they are.

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4. And when you do see someone you know, you can’t remember their name so avoid making eye contact.

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5. There may be an exhibition area where sponsors can tell you all about their wonderful products. They may have hired a DJ.

BuzzFeed / Patrick Smith
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6. Then the conference itself starts. There are some great speakers… and some not so great ones.

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7. This is every keynote speech at all conferences.

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8. Then the chair opens the floor for questions and this always happens because people need to go to the toilet or get another coffee.

Please “state your name and your organisation” if you do ask a question however. No one is sure why you have to do this, but you just do.

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9. Not that anyone is listening to the speakers anyway.

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10. They’re too busy tweeting either very, very obvious business strategy advice the speakers come out with or indecipherable jargon that NO ONE outside the conference hall cares about

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11. You have to endure slides like this.

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12. And this.

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No one knows what this means. No one.

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13. Just another six hours to go.

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14. If you’re a journalist covering a conference, this is what you’re normally reduced to in the search for laptop battery power.

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15. Lunchtime! Now you have to try to eat and chat while holding a plate and cutlery and and a drink. Good luck.

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Bonus observation: What’s with those metal food heaters you get at conferences? Where do they come from?

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16. Unless they have those plates with a cup holder. Those are pretty impressive and are one of the best things about conferences.

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17. You are praying there are cakes. Please let there be cakes.

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18. After lunch is when you have to ward off that sleepy feeling.

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19. It’s a law of international conference organising that the changeover music between sessions must be chillout tunes by Zero 7 or Air.

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20. By this point you’re on your fifth coffee of the day, which makes you feel a bit sick.

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21. It wouldn’t be so bad if conferences weren’t so expensive. It will cost you $6,000 to attend the TED event in Rio this year.

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22. And when it’s all over? There’s a free bar. Which you make full use of.

Where you forget more or less everything you learned during the day.

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Patrick Smith is a senior reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
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