Our team has the privilege of attending many missions conferences over the course of the year.
Conferences are great – chock-full of amazing information, opportunities to learn, and many new connections and friends. All that means a ton of inspiration, not to mention exhaustion. How do you cope?
1. Prepare ahead of time.
On the plane, in the hotel, over lunchtime. We can’t stress enough how important it is to have a plan of what your day will look like. Markdown can’t-miss sessions, people you want to connect with, and when you will take breaks. Which brings us to…
2. Take breaks.
As tempting as it can’t be to hit the ground running in the morning, refill your coffee thermos a hundred times, and talk to everyone you come across, finding time to rest and digest will make you a much better attendee and help you get more out of the conference in the long-run. Know yourself and your limits.
3. Rehearse your talking points.
Networking is one of the top reasons for attending mission conferences like MLC. Your networking will be much more effective if you know what you want to talk about and what you have to contribute to the conversation. Of course, your talking points should not take over every conversation. Be a good listener. Be human.
4. Write stuff down.
Whether your notes are in your old trusty notebook or on your smartphone, write down everything: names of people you meet as well as some cues as to why they’re important, sessions to review later, websites to check out, restaurant recommendations, prayer requests, everything. You will have so many conversations that your memory will be mush. Help your future self out.
5. Show grace to your fellow attendees.
Even the most gung-ho extrovert will be overwhelmed or exhausted at some point. Most people will feel uncomfortable or out of place at least once during the conference. If you see someone who looks lost, offer to help or direct them to a staff member who can. Don’t take it personally if a person doesn’t seem 100% into the conversation you’re having with them. Chances are it has nothing to do with you.