Covering medical conferences is the bread and butter of many health journalists, especially if they write for trade publications. A previous tip sheet offered tips for how to prepare for covering a medical conference, and now we’ve compiled a tip sheet aimed at making the most of a conference while you’re on the ground rushing from session to session.
Policies, schedules, location layout, press room amenities, conference structure and other characteristics vary from one conference to another, but most of the tips we offer will apply to nearly every research conference, big or small, in any discipline or subspecialty. Though the Cliff’s Notes list is included below, be sure to check out the complete tip sheet for more details on suggestions to make your reporting experience easier and more efficient on site.
- Wear comfortable shoes.
- Familiarize yourself with presenters’ past work.
- Bring and use a quality voice recorder — not necessarily the one in your phone.
- Arrive at sessions and posters early when possible.
- Seek diverse experts for outside comments.
- Exercise news judgment as a session is occurring.
- Download slides when possible and take photos of them.
- Use the press officers and press room resources.
- Request a business card from every speaker, and outside source you speak with and may want to quote or interview later.
- Make notes on business cards.
- Photograph name tags of those you interview.
- Take advantage of inexpensive digital transcription services.
- In the exhibition hall, remember you’re a journalist and be aware of exhibit hall policies.
- Read abstracts, and be sure they’re relevant to your coverage.
- Attend poster sessions — even if you aren’t covering any research posters.
- Schedule sit-down meetings/interviews physically close to where you and the interviewee need to be.
- Take care of yourself.