In this week’s TIPisode, Andrew and Michelle discuss ideas to help you navigate the dental conference world. Whether you are an industry professional or an attendee, here are a few helpful hints to make your experience just a little bit better!
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This TIPisode has been transcribed for your viewing pleasure:
Michelle Strange: Listeners, this is going to be a little different. Andrew and I actually have a tip for you this week. So this is only my second tip that I have given to you guys, you know, outside of the normal podcast. And, Andrew, this is your first.
Andrew Johnston: Yes. The inaugural TIPisode adventure.
Michelle Strange: I mean, it’s only been over a year, and we finally do a TIPisode together. But that’s all right because we have so many other smart people giving tips, so —
Andrew Johnston: — Right. Right.
Michelle Strange: — you know, got to give them room.
So what we wanted to talk about and give you guys a few tips about is surviving a conference, big and small. So we are just coming back from Chicago Midwinter. Andrew just was at Yankee. I’m literally flying out tomorrow to go to the ICOI ADIA, which is an implant conference. And so, you know, we were just talking, and we’re like, “Man, we should tell people what we do to make it an easier conference, or maybe the things that we’ve learned or not learned, mine being that I still wear heals because I’m dumb.”
Andrew Johnston: I was just going to say it’s going to depend — some of these tips are going to depend what you’re doing at the conference. So, if you are a regular attendee doing your thing versus like an industry professional, those are going to be two different things. So we’ll try and —
Michelle Strange: — Yeah.
Andrew Johnston: — help you navigate this.
Michelle Strange: Well, you know, I’d say in the last — we both did — we do international conference where we actually become attendees.
Andrew Johnston: Right.
Michelle Strange: Everything else I’m always like, “I wish I had time to learn,” and I just don’t. But we have done a few of those international conferences, so I was trying to think back to those and the things that I did that made the conference a little bit easier on me.
So one of my first ones: liquid. Water bottles and coffee cups are so helpful. You can — even though — I mean, let’s also think about the environment, guys. We want to make sure that we have reusable. But water is sometimes so hard, and it’s stupid expensive. It’s dumb. So bring your own water bottle, and you can just refill it at the airport if you’re traveling. And then at the conference, stay hydrated because those places will just steal all your hydration from your body. [Laughing].
Andrew Johnston: Right. And I think, too, there’s something about being hydrated that keeps you awake, and you’re able to absorb the information better. And, you know, it’s this weird little thing sometimes that the motion of taking a drink — not necessarily even the water but staying hydrated is good for you also — but just that motion kind of wakes you back up. It lets you think about the thing that the speaker is saying.
I — of course everyone knows I like myself some Red Bull. And so — which they come in recyclable containers already, so. Also, East Coast doesn’t have Rockstar as much as West Coast does, so if someone is a Rockstar fan, it’s all Monster and Red Bull over there.
Michelle Strange: Well, let’s hope that are listeners are not using the devil’s juice as much as you are.
Andrew Johnston: But, if you are using the devil’s juice, you can also put it in a coffee cup, and you’ll receive less judgement. Ah, what a great tip.
Michelle Strange: From me specifically.
Andrew Johnston: Aren’t you glad that I came onto this show? Because that’s a great tip.
Michelle Strange: Mmm.
Andrew Johnston: It’s a hot take, as they say.
Michelle Strange: I might actually forget to put your track in here.
Andrew Johnston: [Laughing].
Michelle Strange: [Laughing].
My other tip was layers. Lots of layers of clothing because some rooms that you go in for your conferences might be cold, and some might not be at all, and then depending on what it is outside — I mean, just bring some layers especially if you tend to get cold. And, if you tend to get hot, I don’t even know how to deal with that. I don’t have a suggestion for that. [Laughing].
Andrew Johnston: Just take off all of the clothes. Like Nelly suggests.
Michelle Strange: Just become a nudist. Yeah.
Andrew Johnston: [Laughing].
Michelle Strange: Just embrace the nudity.
Andrew Johnston: I do run pretty cold, and so I’m always wearing a jacket. So having a light jacket and a heavy jacket sometimes is a good idea.
Michelle Strange: Yeah. Hundred percent.
And, you know, I would also say just comfortable clothing but professional clothing. Granted you can learn in whatever you want, but dress for the job that you might want one day, not the job that you got kind of thing.
Andrew Johnston: Mm-hmm.
Michelle Strange: I just — I’m a big believer in that. That would — that’s more of my own preference than a tip more than anything. But, when you do choose your shoes, make sure — because some of these conferences are ginormous. Like the Chicago Midwinter that we just left, I mean, you’re going to be hustling from maybe one part of the conference hall to the other, and so be comfortable unlike me that will always wear heals and then by day two complain constantly about my feet.
Andrew Johnston: Were you — on your list, do you also have writing utensils, note taking things, all that?
Michelle Strange: I do.
Andrew Johnston: Okay.
Michelle Strange: I did —
Andrew Johnston: — Because it’s important.
Michelle Strange: — Yes. Don’t rely on their — maybe it’s the hotel pen and paper. There’s never enough room. I would also encourage you to find out what the handout situation is. You might have to print them out beforehand. If you are digitally inclined like myself, I actually download everything onto my iPad, and I write with my pen on my iPad. So I always have it. I have access to everything, which is really nice. But, if not, bring your favorite pen. Bring your favorite notebook. Maybe even a highlighter. I don’t — like just, you know, take diligent notes. And, also, don’t hesitate to ask questions or go up and talk to the speaker afterwards.
Andrew Johnston: I would like to also add to invest in a really nice writing utensil, whatever it is. Because, if you’re doing it right — yeah. If you’re doing it right, it should be an — it sounds ridiculous, but it should be an enjoyable thing. You should enjoy writing down the extra little sentence here, extra little idea there that pops into your head, the resource to look up later. It shouldn’t be like, “Ugh, I hate scratching this paper with this pen that doesn’t work very well.”
Michelle Strange: Yeah. Like a junk pen.
My other thing is, though, with that writing notepad and utensil, I would encourage you to leave that first page as a kind of a call to action because what happens is we tend to take these courses, and we always have really great ideas, and we go in on Monday, and we’re really excited. And then the computer’s broken, and we’re putting out fires, and we kind of forget some of the things that we were going to implement. So, if something really resonates with you and you’re like, “I want to get — I want to do that,” or “I want to follow up with this,” or “That would be a really good protocol for our office,” write it on that front page. That way you can just look briefly and be like, “What did I learn from Chicago Midwinter, for instance, or the Hinman that I’m about to go to?”
Andrew Johnston: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.
Michelle Strange: You’re like, “Oh, that’s right. I was going to start gently probing dental implants.” [Laughing]. That’s mine.
My other thing was —
Andrew Johnston: — I think we all knew that one was yours.
Michelle Strange: — have a good plan.
Yeah. That’s definitely mine. [Laughing].
Andrew Johnston: You didn’t have to qualify that at all. [Laughing].
Michelle Strange: And, if you have questions about probing implants, please let me know because I will happily set you in the right direction, and your doctor if they question that.
And a good plan. Have a good plan. Make sure you know where your — oh, look at you with your note — have a good plan. Know where your lectures are. Know if they’re serving lunch, if they’re going to have breakfast. Just find out all those details because there’s nothing like rolling up hungry AF, and you’re like, “Oh, they don’t have breakfast.” And then you’re starving, and then you might leave the conference and go get something, and now you’ve just kind of wasted a CE course.
Andrew Johnston: I — the other thing, too, is we have a lot of friends that are amazing speakers, right? And the problem is sometimes they’ll be speaking twice, but one of those times will conflict with another of your friends that you want to see or someone that you’ve always wanted to see that’s your idol. And so having a good plan allows you to be able to most efficiently move throughout the conference without missing a single thing.
Michelle Strange: I would also encourage you to look at the events. There’s a lot of events, and a lot of companies or organizations have really fun networking events. And, if you are there for CE, that’s totally fine. But, if you’re there to expand your career and — I — why? What?
Andrew Johnston: What?
Michelle Strange: I’m just saying. What?
Andrew Johnston: “If you’re at this CE conference for CE, that’s totally fine, I guess, but…” What kind of attitude is that? [Laughing].
Michelle Strange: I know. Sorry.
Andrew Johnston: “But let’s talk about networking.” [Laughing].
Michelle Strange: It’s totally fine. But let’s talk about networking.
Well, and I would also — I guess — you know, I didn’t even think about how bas — that seems basic to me now [laughing], which is crazy because —
Andrew Johnston: — Yeah.
Michelle Strange: — CE is so super important. You should be there for CE 100 percent.
Andrew Johnston: It’s the only reason why most people go.
Michelle Strange: So I don’t mean to mitigate that. But the networking side — I never imagined how great the CE wa — or the networking side. Even for CE opportunities because there’s sometimes you might meet somebody that sees dental implants all of the time, and you maybe didn’t take a course, but somebody’s challenging you. Well, now you just met that person. Now you have a friend. Now you have a contact, and you can pick their brain. I don’t know. It’s just a different — it’s changed my career quite a lot, so.
Andrew Johnston: Yeah. Yeah.
Michelle Strange: So I think that networking is great.
Andrew Johnston: Well, the thing about networking, though, also is while a lot of these things you have to preregister for — so get on mailing lists and try and find out when these events are — also be flexible and fluid enough so that when something does come up that you can go to that as well. Because we were just at Chicago Midwinter, and there’s just too many events. You’re not going to be able to hit them all. And sometimes you don’t hear about it until that week or the day of the event, so be a little bit flexible with your time.
Michelle Strange: And my last one on here is to plan out your time on the exhibit showroom floor. So, if there are certain companies that you want to learn more about, also give yourself enough time to stop at the companies that you don’t know about. I would encourage you to use them as a resource, not just for samples.
Andrew Johnston: Right. I personally like to start at one end and work my way all the way through. I know that you and I both have a lot of meetings and things like that, we’re going to see these same people a couple of times, but that way I don’t miss anyone. And I think this last conference was one of my favorite ones about learning about new products and learning about new ways to use old equipment that I never thought of before. So give yourself plenty of time to actually engage and interact with the people that are at the booths because I think that there’s going to be a lot of things that you’ll learn that maybe wasn’t something you were actually looking to learn.
Michelle Strange: One great example is I’m a big fan of the Cavitron left/rights. When I was using my Cavitron — I use Piezo now more than anything — but, when I was using my Cavitron, I was a big fan of left/rights. I was using them completely wrong for a decade, y’all. One entire decade until Maryann Dryer (phonetic) came into my life and taught me on the exhibit floor at RDH one year how to change my technique. And she did it so perfectly. It changed everything for me. So just little things like that, man, it’ll change your clinical life.
All right. So that’s all I have for our little TIPisode. Do you have anything else?
Andrew Johnston: No. I think that actually you hit every single thing that I was thinking of in my brain, so. Yeah. That’s good.
Michelle Strange: Oh. Very good.
So, if you have any advice, we’d love to hear about it. And you can definitely tag us on social media and tell our listeners all about it. And keep listening to these TIPisodes because we have an amazing few giveaways each month, and we would love for you to share these with your friends.
Andrew Johnston: No. That sounds awesome.
Michelle Strange: All right. Thanks, guys.
Andrew Johnston: Bye.
Michelle Strange: We hope you enjoyed this week’s TIPisode. Be sure to reach out to our guest experts and let them know how helpful their tips were. Follow A Tale of Two Hygienists on Facebook, Instagram, and head over to ataleoftwohygienists.com and subscribe to our newsletter. You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and keep listening for more awesome content from your unofficial dental hygiene podcast.