Conference Tips & Tricks

Preparing for Conference

  • Label everything you bring with your school's and/or student's name.
  • Create a list and a label of what is in every box for your booth, and who is responsible for each box or piece of equipment.
  • Involve students in preparation. Let them set the attitude and expectations.
  • Assign your students specific responsibilities.
    —Two students make sure everything gets to the event and back.
    —One student is in charge of construction and appearance of the booth.
    —One student is the conference coordinator.
    —One checks website every day and notifies the facilitator and conference team of any updates. Team members take pictures and/or video to help document the experience.

  • Create a checklist with deadlines and tasks to be completed. It can be kept in a binder with other information and schedules.
  • Organize a printable calendar with details.
  • Give each student a “student packet“ when they get to the conference. Include the schedules for booth times, breakout sessions, banquet times, etc. This way there are no excuses for not attending breakout sessions or booth time. Facilitator has a master copy. This is all in one multi-paged color-coded packet. Items to include in student packet.
    —Schedule of events
    —Student schedules
    —Cell phone numbers
    —Breakout Session schedules (Print before coming to the conference.)
    —Schedule for working the booth (requirement: two students in booth at all times).
    —Schedule for exhibit observation times (someone from the team visits every booth).
  • Hold regular team meetings
  • Schedule a "mock" banquet one week before the conference. We emphasize manners, behavior, etc.
  • Discuss the dress guidelines and make sure all participants follow these guidelines.
  • Create an emergency contact sheet for each student that includes allergies, emergency contact numbers, etc.
  • Send a letter home to parents indicating what students need to wear and bring to the conference.
  • Create a document that includes expectations for students during the conference and require parents to provide home, work and cell phone numbers in case they need to be reached. Parents will need to agree to pick up their children if there are disciplinary problems.
  • Discuss safety rules with your students. Never let your students go off by themselves.
  • Program all team members’ cell phone numbers in all members’ phonesPractice setting up booth at school ahead of time.
  • Set up the booth at school ahead of time
  • Audition for presenting spots. Presenting students are responsible for writing their “part”. Have students and facilitators listen, tweak it and then compile the entire presentation. Set up a rehearsal schedule and make sure speeches are within the time limit. Facilitator can role play as PIA judge and ask questions they might ask. REHEARSAL and good grammar are the keys.
  • Presenting students should practice their presentations daily in front of peers, teachers (including speech teachers), administration and community members.
  • Use the survival guide on the EAST conference website.
  • Review the previous conference highlights. On the same page, also check out the photo gallery and video streams to get a feel of what to expect.
  • Encourage students NOT to bring ipods, etc. It hinders social interaction.
  • The Conference is an excellent recruiting tool. Bring extra students on Thursday!
  • Print flyers and encourage students to personally invite the administration and their family members to the Awards Banquet on Wednesday.

At Conference

  • Use wheeled containers to bring in decorations and supplies.They can hold purses, etc. during the conference.
  • Follow the dress guidelines!! (Even additional students attending on Thursday!!!)
  • Bring more than one pair of comfortable shoes.
  • Stagger lunch breaks.
  • An 11:00 PM curfew is in place for EAST students to be in their hotel rooms. This curfew is enforced by the hotel, EAST Staff and facilitators.
  • Take up hotel room keys.
  • Take all valuables to hotel rooms each day (computers, projectors, cameras, etc.). EAST Initiative is not responsible for items lost or stolen during the event.
  • A small daily schedule and even a folded paper including names and cell phone numbers for everyone in your group can be tucked in  name tag holders.
  • Attend all breakout sessions that were registered for.
  • If you want to attend a session that you didn’t get to register for, go to the room 5-10 minutes before it starts to see if there are empty seats. Often, you will be able to attend.
  • Presenters are first to man booth so they can practice presenting in front of other students.
  • Pair up your students. They do everything in pairs; walking the exhibit hall floor, going to breakouts, lunch breaks, in the booth, etc. Especially if one student doesn’t have a cell phone, pair them up with someone who does.
  • Provide notebooks for your students to take to breakout sessions. Require that all notes taken are placed in one notebook at the booth or kept for discussion after the event.
  • Many schools use family radios or walkie talkies at the Conference. These work, but with shared frequencies. It can get confusing and annoying when other schools use your designated channel.
  • Wireless internet is an option on the exhibit hall floor, although it is not always guaranteed (from past experience).

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This page was last updated on Wednesday, January 20, 2010 at 9:36:46 AM | View update history