Five Tips on Returning to In-Person Events
Sarah Deery
Sarah Deery
15th September 2022

It’s been a while since we’ve been able to attend large in-person conferences due to the Covid crisis. And whilst online conferences are here to stay, we’ve longed for the warmth and welcome you get from an in-person conference like TestBash! Something you can’t describe unless you’ve experienced it for real. 

Though we’re eager to get back to meeting friends, sharing expert tips and checking out what’s for lunch, we might feel overwhelmed about the prospect of getting back together. So with TestBash UK just around the corner, check these tips on how to comfortably return to in-person conferences.

  1. Choose How You Want To Engage

Despite there being no Covid restrictions in the UK, feeling safe and comfortable in public spaces differs from person to person. So it’s important to reflect on how you are happy to engage in busy areas. Are you strictly greeting folks with elbow bumps, or are you all in and back for hugs? Whatever your level of comfort, be sure to respect that other people’s engagement choices might be different to yours. 

At TestBash UK, we have a sticker system to denote how people wish to engage. Respect if others wish to wave hello from a distance. Furthermore, if a space feels too crowded for your comfort level, move to a different zone that’s less crowded; fantastic things are happening in six different zones around our venue, The Lowry (download the app to see the indoor map. See tip #3).

TestBash Sticker System

  1. Do a Spot of Research

Take some time before an event to review the schedule and work out what sessions are a must-see! This is especially important if the conference is a multi-track event like this year’s TestBash UK. Having an idea of what you want to see before you attend means there’s one less thing taking up your mental load when you arrive. You’ve already got to navigate the venue, grab cool swag, meet new people and find that all important first cup of caffeine. So take the time to draft yourself a schedule and take one less thing off your plate.

If you find that there are multiple sessions happening in one time block that looks useful, our advice is to be brave and choose the session that’s interesting, but you know least about. Being brave will allow you to expand your horizons and get the most value from your attendance. Better still, pair up with someone, a friend or colleague, split up and agree to compare notes at the end of the day. However, at TestBash UK, you’ll never completely miss out as all our talks are recorded and available on our site indefinitely! Furthermore, our activities are written up as handy handouts that you can take away and replay at work.

Lastly, it’s also a good idea to review the venue, location, conference topics and speakers. A light spot of research in these areas can be useful for striking up conversations and keeping them going with fellow attendees. Do you know any history of the conference venue or location? Do you have any interesting stories on the topics or speakers? Do you know any good restaurants nearby? Having this information in your back pocket will help you keep conversations going and potentially lead to new friendships being made.

  1. Leverage Technology

Many events make use of mobile apps to help attendees navigate the event more easily, and we’ve done just that for TestBash UK. You can download the TestBash UK app on the Google Play Store and Apple App Store. Use the TestBash UK app to view an indoor event map, speaker information and their sessions, sponsor information, timetables by room, and you can even create your own schedule too.

As well as leveraging event apps to enhance your conference experience, be sure to follow and use conference hashtags. At TestBash UK, we’ll be using the hashtag #TestBash. Using social media to live tweet, read and favourite others’ posts is incredibly powerful. These back-channel conversations provide valuable insights into the sessions and can extend your understanding of the conference topics. These conversations also help community members who can’t attend feel closer to the action. 

Furthermore, using the conference hashtag can allow you to network with fellow attendees and speakers and make great icebreakers when you finally meet in person. Some of the finest friendships and working relationships within the community have started with folks meeting through live tweeting at #TestBash!

  1. Look After Yourself

Navigating unfamiliar spaces, learning new things and meeting new people in person is exhausting! There’s no turning off your camera or mic at in-person events; whilst you’re there, you’re always on. So be sure to look after yourself and schedule some downtime during and after the event when you need it. 

At TestBash UK, there is a dedicated Quiet Room in the venue that you can visit and recharge for as long as you need. In the Quite Room, there will be refreshments, mindfulness colouring-in as well as a selection of testing books and puzzles to get stuck into whilst curled up on a comfy bean bag.

In addition to the Quite Room, there will be individual challenge posters in the Community Hub. These posters have been designed to be simple and fun challenges that provide a social breather whilst still offering mental challenges with the opportunity to flex your testing skills. Furthermore, if you take part in the challenges, there’s a chance of winning cool prizes!

Remember, you never really miss out by taking these important breaks. All our talks and activities will be available online after the event. So take advantage of these spaces and take the time to recharge your batteries so that while you’re in the thick of the event, you have the energy to make the most of it.

  1. Reflect Often

We cannot overstate the importance of regularly reflecting during an event, as it’s really easy to let key moments pass you by in a whir of conversation and activity. Regular reflection allows you to process and examine your experiences so that you don’t miss anything important. At TestBash UK, we have created a reflection worksheet to help you reflect on all that’s happening and make important notes to take back to work. It covers everything from talks and workshops to meeting fellow attendees. You can download and use the interactive PDF version of the worksheet, print it off or pick up a hard copy at the event.

It’s also useful to reflect after the conference to make sure you follow up with any connections or goals you made during the conference. A post-conference reflection can help you summarise conversations and learnings, identify further areas to research and create action plans. At TestBash, there will be a video booth with the option to set your future self a goal. These videos will be sent to their creators in a couple of weeks as a reminder. So why not hold yourself accountable and create a future goal video to kick off your action planning?

This is far from an exhaustive list of tips and we’re sure you have your own tips and tricks too. Try implementing each of these and see if they make the event more comfortable, productive and valuable for you. We hope you find these tips helpful for TestBash UK and beyond.

How about you? Share your tips on this Club post or on Twitter/ LinkedIn using #TestBash.