Last week, I offered suggestions on how to make the most of attending a writing conference. I focused on learning, networking, and taking care of yourself while there.
This week, I want to consider the etiquette of attending a writing conference. While last week I featured what to do; this week, I’ll stress what not to do at a conference. Both are equally important.
- Don’t ask questions of speakers about your own work specifically. Ask questions that are broader in nature and can be applied to other people’s work as well.
- Don’t monopolize the time of speakers and the audience by making comments instead of asking questions during the Q&A time.
- Don’t spend more than a minute or so with a speaker after the session. They may need to get a drink of water, go to the bathroom, or get prepared for their next session. And other participants may want to speak to them, as well. Give them time.
- Don’t ask speakers, panelist, or agents and publisher to look at your work right on the spot. They don’t have the time or the energy to do that for everyone. Respect the demands on them during the conference.
- Don’t select another participant and talk their leg off, because you don’t know how to find others with which to visit. Mill around, look for another person alone for the time being and introduce yourself. (See my comments on Networking from last week.)
- Don’t block an exhibitor’s booth where others cannot get to the table to explore the products or services. Make room for others and keep moving.
- At a reception or happy hour don’t drink too much. Pace yourself by ordering a Coke, tonic water, or sparkling water in between wine, beer or mixed drinks. You don’t want to embarrass yourself or others, much less have to wonder who you need to apologize to the following day.
- Don’t fail to thank the program organizers, the speakers and facilitators, as well as the staff who make the event a pleasant experience for you. Be specific, tell them what worked for you and what could be improved.
You may be saying, “Man alive, Rhonda is a real downer. ‘Don’t do this, don’t to that’.”
Etiquette is not something we give much attention to these days. Not many copies of “Miss Manners” sit on bookshelves or coffee tables anymore. I view the “don’ts” as the way to make a positive impact on others by not doing these things. I hope this gives you pause on what to do and not do at your next writing class, workshop, retreat, or conference. It will help you and others. Enjoy your time while there.
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