Optimizing Your Meeting Experiences

Paul Sufka

I attended my fourth American College of Rheumatology Annual Meeting this past November in Chicago. Each year, prior to attending the biggest yearly meeting of rheumatologists in the world, I spend some time thinking about how to best optimize my limited time there.

The first three years I tried to make it to every lecture that I could, and heard some of the foremost experts in the field speak about many topics. Although I learned a ton of information doing this, I still had to ask if this was really the best use of my time.

My approach to attending large meetings has been much different since reading a post by author Seth Godin, who focuses readers on the important by asking you to think back to a conference a year prior and ask, “What do you remember?

Seth brought up the point that all of these lectures are available online, and that the part of the meeting that we should focus on is the “engaged conversations.” In fact, because of changing part of focus to this at the Chicago meeting, I met a number of other rheumatologists and patients from around the globe, including Dr. Ronan Kavanagh, a rheumatologist from Ireland, who has also written that attending meetings is not just about sitting in lectures and how Twitter can be used to enhance your meeting experience.

With conferences getting bigger each year, and increasing numbers of lectures and other sessions available to attend, it is important to remember the one thing that you can do at a meeting that you can’t do anywhere else: meet with people. After I get home, in the comfort of my home or office, I can catch up on the lectures I missed.

Additional resource: KevinMD.com: How to use Twitter at your next medical conference