November 28, 2022

Tips for newbie conference attendees

Attending your first development sector conference? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

2 min read


Wear comfortable shoes so that you can chase that potential partner or funder who has been ghosting you over e-mail.


Don’t eat breakfast at home. Instead, ensure you come on an empty stomach so that you can maximise your time at the refreshment counter while you ‘network’.


Keep your phone handy so that you can google the jargon (theory of change, just transitions) that is key to every keynote speech. Do this while you’re on the go so that you look extremely important.


Make sure to practise your elevator pitch in the mirror so you can build up the courage to walk up to complete strangers and introduce yourself repeatedly. (Pro tip: Also practise your awkward laugh. You’ll need it, we promise.)


Don’t remember what an organisation you’ve been introduced to thrice does? Don’t fret. Just say that you love the work they’re doing and they’ll jump in to tell you how they’ve been creating impact.


Invest in a tote bag. It is fashionable, and it gives you enough space to store all the cards and published reports everyone will be handing out. Conveniently, this bag can then be used to leave said cards and reports in for years on end.

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Picture courtesy: Three Brothers / CC BY


Find your conference allies. You’ll need them to vent out your frustrations and refresh yourself between sessions while inhaling the copious amounts of tea/coffee and cookies being served.


Take note of everything you see that makes you roll your eyes. Once you get home, put it down and send it to IDR as a humour piece. (No, but really.)

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Shreya Adhikari-Image
Shreya Adhikari

Shreya is an editorial associate at IDR, where she manages podcasts, in addition to writing, editing, sourcing, and publishing content. She has more than seven years of experience as a media and communications professional, and has been involved in the curation and production of various art and culture festivals in India and internationally, including the Jaipur Literature Festival—where she was a core team member.

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Cincy Jose

Cincy Jose works at IDR as editor – content and also manages its translation workstream. Prior to this she spent seven years in the publishing industry as senior copy editor at Juggernaut Books and editor at DK Books India. She holds master’s and bachelor’s degrees in English literature from Miranda House and Jesus and Mary College, Delhi University.