Tips on crushing conferences

David Stollman is one of the leading speakers on Fraternity and Sorority Life, traveling to hundreds of campuses and a dozen of conferences each year. If there’s one person that knows how to crush a conference, it’s David.

Here are ten tips directly from David that will ensure you get the most of your time and effort spent at conferences this year.

1. Travel sucks. Winter travel sucks more. Winter weekend travel sucks the most. Be prepared and know your rights and options. For example airlines don’t have to book you on a competitor if bad weather has caused the delay. But, if their crew is stuck somewhere else because of bad weather, they do. Know other flight option and what delays there are and if there are any storms going through your airline hub cities.

2. Pack smartly. Bring only the clothes you need, not lots of options. Never more than three pair of shoes. Yes, workout shoes count. And, pick the most comfortable shoes you can. You’ll be in them A LOT! Lay out on the bed everything you want to bring – then put half away.

3. Prepare a “hit” list of at least three people you want to meet. Even if it’s just your counterpart from another campus, keep that list handy and add to it as the conference progresses. Consider finding a mentor while there whether you are a student or professional, it doesn’t matter. Mentors make us better.

4. Bring business cards. Even students can have them with their name, number and email address printed on them. Bring too many – it’s always better than running out.

5. Bring snacks. You’re always jealous of that person across the session room who whips out a tasty treat at 4:30 pm. Be that person!

6. Accommodate your personality. Extroverts and introverts need to conference differently. If you need an hour to hide in your room to recharge let others know and go take care of yourself. If you’re an extrovert don’t forget to take some personal time to process all that you have learned.

7. Don’t drink too much. If you drink, be smart and limit the amount for a few reasons: A. It makes you dumber and, B. It makes you less capable of getting the most out of the next day. Tip—Hold and drink a glass of seltzer with lime. People will stop offering to buy you a drink, you’ll stay hydrated, and you won’t have to be too tempted to have alcohol. This leads to number 8…

8. Stay hydrated. Bring a water bottle or get a 12 pack of them and keep them in your room.

9. Buddy up. Conference boyfriends and girlfriends are not for hooking up. They are to help your confidence and expand your networking abilities to attack the conference.

10. Don’t be afraid! Stick out your hand and introduce yourself to people. If you liked a session, tell the presenter. Write a note on the back of your business card and thank them. Tip—bring a few thank you notes to give to conference staff to tell them you appreciate their hard work. I promise you’ll stand out in a good way and will be remembered if you ever apply to be on their committee or intern with them in the future!


Visit to learn more about David, and his keynote Buy In or Get Out! that continues to be a top request at conferences and campuses nationwide.