Business Events News
CONFESSIONS OF A COMPULSIVE CONFERENCE-GOER
Andrew Klein, professional MC and presentation skills speaker and director of
SPIKE Presentations, presents his front line observations on conferences in a regular feature in BEN.
“Kale, Cous-Cous & Carrot Crumbs”
In my role as a conference MC I often attend conferences and stay in hotels for several days in a row. And given that I’m on the go from early in the morning till late at night, it means I live on hotel food. I’m usually in the conference room an hour before the morning session kicks off, so a quick breakfast is all I have time for. Then comes lunch-time and more often than not I’m still in the conference room, getting ready for the afternoon session, updating notes, meeting the presenters, refining things with the conference organisers etc. All part of the job. Problem is by the time I finally dash out to grab some lunch from the buffet table, I’m often too late and all that’s left at the buffet is the stuff no one wanted. That dodgy sandwich with too much sweet potato; a bit of rice and curry sauce with a few sinewy pieces of chicken that no one served themselves because understandably they preferred the appetising pieces. And there’s always the final, lonely, sad slabs of salad - the unwanted pieces of kale or quinoa, the discarded crumbs of cous-cous or carrot. So that culinary flotsam and jetsam becomes my lunch. First world problem? Absolutely. But as regular readers of this column will know, most of my petty gripes about conference food, fawlty air con, uncomfortable chairs and so on, are classic first world problems. If I’m being paid to stay in a beautiful hotel, meet lots of fascinating people, talk a bit and have fun, then any downsides are likely to be first world problems. So kale, quinoa and carrot crumbs are frequently my staple conference lunch diet. That said, the listless, leafy leftover “loser” lunch is sometimes counterbalanced for me by that incredibly exciting part of some multi-day day conferences (and one of my favourite parts of any conference agenda) the ‘Free Night’. Occasionally I have dinner on the free night with my client, but every now and then I get the indulgent opportunity to kick off my shoes, get out my laptop loaded with TV shows or movies that I never have time to watch - and to spend the night winding down while indulging in the bliss of room-service. Ahhhhh. A medium-rare grain-fed wagyu beef steak, a mixed salad and thick-cut chips dinner is my reward for a kale, cous-cous and carrot leftover “loser” lunch. It provides a little compensation for having to be away from my family for a few days. And each time my in-room dining exrience ends and I obediently place my tray and stainless-steel hemisphere lids in the corridor outside my room (wedging my foot firmly against the door to ensure I don’t get locked out in my daggy jammies) I check my dinner plates to ensure I haven’t left behind any kale, carrot or cous-cous scraps - because that would be the ultimate irony.