Oh My Aching Feet…and other convention advice

With the convention season upon us, I thought I might do a post with some quick tips for making conventions a little less painful. Although I’ve only been publishing for the last half-dozen years, I’ve been attending medical conferences for the last 25 and they have a lot in common when it comes to aching feet, cold rooms, and crowds of people.

So here’s my six secrets to a pain-free convention:

  1. Dress professionally, but not to the detriment of your health and comfort. While you want to present yourself at your best, after all you’re making a lot of first impressions, tears from blisters and shaking from chilly air conditioning, do not encourage others to talk to you. Wear comfortable shoes that fit you well but also bring blister band-aids just in case. If you run cold, bring a sweater you can throw on in the inevitably cold meeting rooms. Make sure you are neat and clean so that you can introduce yourself as a polished person as well as a polished writer.
  2. Use your phone’s camera to boost your memory. When I’m at a convention, my brain is rushing a mile a minute and I sometimes forget details. So I take pictures. I take a picture of where I parked my car in the airport deck. I take a picture of my hotel door so I can remember which room I’m in. If someone gives me their telephone number, I take a picture of them to go with the number. If I see a slide with a particularly good piece of advice on it during a class, I snap it too.
  3. Business cards serve more than one purpose. One of the first things a writer needs is a business card with their contact information and how to find them online. I generally keep a stash of them in my badge behind my name card. That way they’re handy if you need to give one to someone or if you need a bit of paper to write a note, a name, or an idea. The blank back of a business card is free space. This also applies to cards that you receive. If you are handed a card, immediately turn it over to the blank side and jot some notes down about the person that gave it to you. That way you’ll remember who they are when you’re sorting through them when you unpack.
  4. Remember to escape if you need to. Both introverts and extroverts can get fatigued by the sheer number of people that you’ll meet at a large convention. Networking, saying hello to friends, making new friends, is both rewarding…and emotionally and physically draining. Go have a meal somewhere away from the convention! Go duck into a corner and fill up your water bottle so you can stay hydrated. Do not feel guilty about taking a little time to return to your room for a nap or even some quiet time. Just don’t do this for the entire convention. You’re there to meet people, learn from other professionals, and greet your readers. If you hide all the time, you’ll miss out on meeting some amazing people.
  5. The floors of convention centers and hotels are hard—swollen feet happen. And if they happen, I have a sure-fire remedy. When you get back to your room, fill up your complimentary bucket with ice. Plug the tub and put the ice in it with as much cold water as will cover your feet. If your feet are swollen, the water will not be cold for long. Put your feet in the ice bath for 15 minutes or as long as you can stand it. Then take two over-the-counter painkillers (I like Aleve) and pile your pillows up so your feet are elevated all night. When you wake up in the morning, your feet will be back to normal and most if not all the pain will be gone.
  6. It’s the little things that will make your life easier. Make a list of things that you absolutely need on your trip and pre-pack them. They should be things like safety pins (for wardrobe malfunctions), over-the-counter pain killers (Ibuprofen, Aspirin, Naproxen, etc.), breath mints, hand sanitizer, blister band-aids, Kleenex, Chapstick, protein bars, cellphone chargers/extra battery packs, etc. You can even put them all in a small bag so you have your survival supplies all in one place.

I hope you enjoy the conventions this year!




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