First conference advise


Hello all,

I'm in my first year of my PhD and I'm going to my first conference next week.

I know this probably sounds a bit silly but I was hoping that you could give me sound tips/advise on:

*What to take
*What to wear
*What to expect


I am not giving a paper at this conference but I still don't know what to expect and I would really appreciate some advise. One of my supervisors is also attending this conference and I don't know if I'm expected to sit with him and socialise with him afterwards? Are there any unwritten rules?

Please help!


What to expect, take and wear?

I went to a conference last april and whilst most people where adhering to formal dress code not everyone was. one person even presented in jeans and runners!

You can't go wrong with formal wear as this will give you a professional look which is obviously a good impression to give off to other attendees( a nice shirt/tie should suffice, slacks and shoes)

What to take? business cards, if you already have some. Conferences are the best way to network, and buisness cards are the most convenient way to exchange information.

A pad and pen obviously wont do any harm for taking notes during presentations, although you will probably be given a welcome pack with such things in it.

Interact and mingle with as many people as you can. This is your chance to network and find out about important researchers in the field, important papers and in general the state of play in the field...


Poster sessions are the best way to do this. Find the posters that you are most interested in and that are relevant to your work.

Most important, relax and enjoy it. Conferences are also a great excuse for having a skin full of beer!!!

Also watch out for some heckling if there are any Russians in the room.


I agree with the advise that rjb has given--I think it is helpful to have a smart appearance--so often you can spot the student by their more casual wear--though not always. I think that your supervisor will give you the cues on socializing with him--you might ask him if you could meet him for coffee part way through or something, and ask him if there are any sessions in particular he thinks that you should attend--if you have not already sorted these. Mostly just relax, enjoy! Sometimes conferences can also be incredibly BORING depending on the quality of the presenters.


Thanks for the tips!

I don't know why I'm feeling so nervous about it. I'm usually quite a socially confident person but don't know what to expect.

I will definitely scrub up for the occasion and see how things go on the day.


I think that you run into two kinds of academics at conferences---the truly skilled and so forth tend to be humble and unassuming, I have met some of the "big names" but you would never guess from meeting them that they are the "big name" just in that they are very gracious, down to earth, not attention seeking, etc. Then there are others who are more competitive, attention seeking, sometimes down right my estimation, these are people with self-esteem problems who are horribly conscious of having not yet "arrived" and somehow think the way to get there is by being as horrible as possible to those around them!

I hope you will enjoy the conference!