Travel Series: Conquering Conferences (How to Look Better Than Everyone Else at Them)

Some people love them. Some people hate them. 

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Any way you slice it, if you work in a big industry, national and international conferences will play a major role in your life while you are performing at the top of your game. The company wants the best, brightest and highest-grossing employees representing the company and entertaining customers. And that means you.

So how do you stay healthy while wining and dining customers and living off of 3 hours of sleep per night? Great question! Here are some “rules” I came up with for myself, or was wisely advised by other experienced conference masters:

1.  Nothing good happens past midnight.

And by this, I mean, “disappear at midnight.” Go ahead, try it. Nobody will even notice! That’s because if you are living by the midnight rule, then you are assuredly out with people who have had one-too-many drinks, and they won’t remember when you left. Or they are just plain tired and will be too disoriented to notice.

This rule is such a great one to live by because it absolutely keeps you out of trouble. It keeps you from exposing yourself and your reputation to questionable situations not limited to: strip clubs, advancements from your boss, advancements from your customers, adopting a puppy, or ingesting any more calories.

Not to mention, a midnight disappearance means you can be sleeping by 12:30 (at the latest) and possibly position yourself for a couple more hours of beloved sleep. Waking up refreshed and renewed when your colleagues don’t follow the midnight rule leave you at the top of your game and everyone else wondering how in the hell you are such a superhero.

Never tell. Or share this prized secret if you want a new best friend.

2.  Carry an extra pair of shoes in your bag.

I mean wear comfortable shoes when you are walking to the conference or in between conference halls throughout the day. Though women can most benefit from jumping out of heels for short bursts of time, men can also find themselves wearing stylish kicks which are uncomfortable. Don’t be afraid to throw in some comfortable exercise shoes you can easily slide off for your more fashionable statement when needed. 

All of the experienced conference attendees are already doing this, so don’t be the newbie suffering from blisters from day 2 and on. You are only judged by how great you look at the booth and dinner. 

It’s an unspoken rule that nobody talks about another person’s looks outside of those two places. So you are good to throw on your favorite Brooks and skip your happy ass back to your hotel for a few extra free minutes to yourself. Use this wisely and consider some mindful breaths to reinvigorate you for the rest of the evening.

A 10-minute meditation session will magically feel like a 4 hour nap. Try this and get back to me too! 

3.  Befriend the meeting coordinator.

And request the afternoon shift so you can get in a morning workout. Even if nobody asks for your opinion when making the conference schedule, contact your meeting coordinator ahead of time and just drop the little request for afternoons “if possible.”

It never hurts to be proactive, and if you are a smart business person, you have already made this person one of your best friends. I have always found that whoever has this job, is usually the nicest and most upbeat person working for the company, so being their friend is something you naturally want to do.

Meeting coordinators can absolutely make your life easier. They can also make sure that healthy snacks and meals are at your booth that meet your dietary restrictions. It usually only takes one request before they are coming to you to let you know they have taken care of you. This nurturing souls never want anyone to be hungry or left out. So request away and don’t compromise your diet “to fit in”!

4.  Do not eat the snacks. They are dusted with crack.

Everyone knows this. I mean, how else does everyone have so much energy when you know they aren’t following the midnight rule?

Have you ever noticed how the best conferences have churros with chocolate crack dipping stations and the crappy conferences have pre-dipped chocolate covered crack pretzels? The sugar upon processed and fried foods will give you a sugar rush and leave you depleted later. Conference goodies are never fresh and healthy (unless you are attending nutrition healthcare conference**see photo below ;), and they are meant to hook you and keep you reaching for more. Especially when you are fighting a compulsion to fall asleep during bad presentations…

Those snacks are something you would NEVER have on a normal day, so why would you eat them during a conference? Just because they are there? Free? And you are bored? Well here is a big growing opportunity: say no and go do something else while on break to avoid the temptation. Get on Pinterest. Swipe right and left on the latest dating app. Call your mom. Drinks lots of water! Do anything to avoid getting in the snack line. 

**If you come across conference food like this, you are allowed to reach for the snacks!

5.  Choose the restaurants ahead of time.

Take some time and research the hottest openings in whatever city you are going to. Take a look at the menus and see if they offer any healthy options. Peruse until you find an establishment progressive enough to accommodate alternatives to the standard american diet and pop your boss or meeting coordinator the suggestion. Sending a press release or news article about the food can also come off less threatening if you don’t want to seem pushy.

If you position yourself as a savvy restauranteur, then you will likely be asked unprompted for recommendations in the future. It’s always wonderful having a part in people enjoying a wonderful meal!

As a side note: If you are lucky enough to have time to attend lectures, many times, there is much to be gleamed from the competitors on the podium or real substantiative material which could help you expand your knowledge base. I have found it helpful to know the schedule ahead of time and be proactive in requesting time to sit-in on lectures.


*Healthspiration*: Don’t be afraid to take care of you and ask for what you need to be healthy and happy while attending a conference. This means requesting the schedule that best suits your workout routine and requesting healthy food options to keep your head clear. 

*Opportunity Discovery*: Find 10 minutes in the afternoon or early evening (before dinner) to meditate. Decide what this word “meditate” means to you and experiment with different types to see what leaves you feeling refreshed in this short time. Does a body scan help? How about sound or guided imagery? Maybe download a meditation app with recorded sessions? Or a podcast? I guarantee that one of these forms of mindfulness practice will allow you to recharge in a big way so you can be your charming self for many hours to come.


Have a big meeting come up and want to come up with a targeted plan with a health coach? Contact Lorna at Finding Healthfulness to set up a consultation and learn more about the coaching process!