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Getting through a conference meeting


Too much of nothing: Ever sat next to someone who works with an NGO or some organisation and listened to their conversations? What lingual is that? Don’t you wonder how they manage to get through their numerous conferences and complicated powerpoints that they too find trouble understanding.


The year is coming to an end. This means that organisations are in a rush to give accountability for donor money. Hotel conference rooms from now on will be full. It will be a conference after conference. We shall discuss all topics, ranging from the economic impact of the Semyekozos to the failure of bottle irrigation systems. But before you attend the next conference, you need to be briefed on the dos and don’ts. Essentially, how to attend a conference and get yourself booked onto the next aka, how to sound smart without being smart.

You need the right company name
If you are attending the next conference or symposium, you need an eye-turning company name. It should be the kind of name that gets people to pause and reflect. They will have no option but to seek further audience about your company’s role. If it is an agricultural conference, you must have a drone company that helps local farmers purchase pesticides in real time from Kampala to Gulu. You must have a ready presentation to share with those interested.
In this case, you could name your company DroneGric. At every moment, keep referencing the works at DroneGric. During the early morning breakfast, move around telling people about DroneGric. Remember to have the right accent to accompany the beautiful story of DroneGric.

Ask questions, but reference your company
During the conference, raise your hand after the first presentation. Speak some gibberish like; “I would like to thank Dr Musoke for his presentation. I have a query, in the case of DroneGric, we’ve done some proactive simulations of econometric models for the scalability of agricultural farms. Could you explain how this works in your case?”
You can be certain no one will have an idea what you just said. But you can also be certain, the speaker won’t ask for a clarification, they will delve into more gibberish of their own that makes no sense to everyone, though everyone will nod in appreciation. Dr Musoke will respond: “I understand where you are coming from at DroneGric. You see in our study, we did pinpoint an actual proper micro-layout of these systemic failures and evaluated them using a similar model. But we could see that at some point, there is a convergence.” Everyone will clap, and take notes. Until you ask to read what they have noted down.

Dresscode: Jacket, but no tie
You need to show up in a jacket. It sends a message of seriousness in the world of unserious bodies. But tone down on the tie. You do not need to take it very seriously. In the evening after the conference, take off the jacket, carefully fold it and hold it by the arm wrist as you enjoy the evening snack. Keep holding onto those round cocktail tables, leaning in, but not too much. Keep listening to other fellows around the table while taking charge of the conversation.

Business cards
One of the most useless inventions in the world is ‘business cards’. When is the last time you checked a business card before calling someone? When is the last time you used the business card you took? Business cards is how we signal importance at conferences. Therefore, remember to print your own pack of business cards.
After all, business cards give you the freedom to assume any business position. You could call yourself the strategy director, you could call yourself an Associate Executive at DroneGric. The business card is your canvas, and you my friend, are the painter. Whatever you will, it assumes. When it is time to end a conversation, pull out your business card, hand it to the person and ask to setup a meeting sometime next week. In this world, it is meeting after meeting after meeting.

Ask a presenter to go a slide back
Not like it will make any difference but it is the survival trick for smart signalling. You can wake up from your slumber, raise your hand and simply ask the presenter to go a slide back. Because no one was paying attention anyway, they will immediately grant you some genius ranks.
Once you are a slide back, ask the presenter to elaborate on some point. Watch the presenter get thrown off balance. And then watch them look back at you, hoping you can nod your head in appreciation to their explanation. All of a sudden, you are the king in the room with zero effort. Because everyone is faking it, every presenter will panic at the mention of the words: “Kindly help go a slide back.”

Don’t forget the conference lingua
If you are attending a climate-based conference, then you want to be buzzing out words such as; “climate change, carbon credits, renewable energy, sustainability.” If you attend an agricultural-based conference, you want to be talking about value chains, mechanisation, to mention but a few. Make sure you have these phrases waiting to be dropped randomly in your conversations. If you can have a basket of 10 phrases or key words, you are good to go, the conference is your oyster.

Prepare your mind for the pointer that never works
There will always be cases of that one presenter with millions of accolades to their name. They have figured out everything in the world except how to go from one slide to the next. They will always have that common excuse of; “don’t know what’s wrong with the technology today.”
Dear presenter, there is nothing wrong with the technology, you have just failed to use it. The one thing is to not be that presenter.
When all this is done and said, you can prepare yourself for the next conference or symposium. Do not forget to reference the works of yours truly, Dr Ortega Malong.

Twitter: @OrtegaTalks

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