The Best Conference Hack

Clay Hebert
Mar 31, 2013 · 3 min read

The best conference hack is simple, always available and won’t cost you a dime, just a little courage.

Sit in the front row.

Here are 5 reasons why…

You’ll meet amazing people

At the Summit Series – Summit at Sea conference in 2011, I attended Tony Conrad’s session and staked out my spot in the front row. A few minutes before the talk began, Tim Ferriss himself sat down in the seat right next to me.

Tim and I chatted briefly before and after the session and have stayed in contact ever since.

You’ll connect with the speakers

Some venues have big bright lights illuminating the stage, making it hard for speakers to see more than a few rows into the audience. But if you’re sitting in the front row, leaning in and paying attention, you immediately become part of any speaker’s direct line of sight.

Your hand will be seen first if you ask a question and your face will be memorable when you talk to any speakers afterward.

Also, front row seats are often reserved for upcoming speakers, so you never know who you’ll sit next to. (It might be Tim Ferriss.)

You’ll actually be able to see the slides

Despite free and widely available advice from presentation design champions like Nancy Duarte, Garr Reynolds and Jon Thomas, most slides (even from some amazing speakers) still suck.

Too many words per slide. Too small a font. The dreaded slideument.

Few speakers design visuals for the back row, so by sitting in the front, you get to absorb all the content; even the stuff in 10pt. font.

You’ll focus and learn more

If you hide in the back, every row between you and the speakers is a potential distraction. Staring at the backs of everyone’s head makes it easy for your mind to wander. It’s too easy to check your phone and tune out.

By sitting in the front row, you’ll avoid these distractions, focus on the speakers and learn more.

You’ll gain confidence in other areas

The amygdala, our “lizard brain”, is the part of our brain that tells us to sit in the back. It’s the little devil on our shoulder that convinces us to hide, fit in and hold back.

Simple actions like proactively sitting in the front row at a conference can help you learn to recognize and manage your lizard brain. Silencing it through simple victories like sitting in the front row will help you silence it in other areas as well.

Pretty soon, you’ll be the one up on stage.

Sit in the front row

There is a cost to attending conferences. Your time is valuable.

Next time you go, get the most value possible.

Get there ten minutes early and sit in the front row.

That’s where I’ll be.

If you see me, please say hi.

    Clay Hebert

    Written by

    I helps helps leaders, executives and entrepreneurs tell better stories, fund their dreams, confidently introduce themselves and do work that matters.

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