How to Survive a Boring Business Conference

Every year it happens: your boss asks you to attend some boring business conferences so you can network and hear the latest speakers talk about data visualization, financial reporting, or how to get more exposure. Whatever topics these conference speakers are going to be discussing, you just want make it through the day so you can get to the bar. So if you find yourself struggling with getting through the event, here is what you can do to survive this necessary conference:

Sit in the back and near a door

You probably are already doing this so you know about this tactic. When you sit in the back of the room you can sneak out easier and without disturbing the meeting. Some conferences are needed for our work or education, so you can’t just leave. However, quick trips to the restroom or hallway can help you survive this boring experience.

Write down an outline of the conference/session

According to, some speakers and teachers have a hard time getting their point across in an effective and meaningful way. It may take them several minutes to explain one thing that could be done in one minute. Don’t hold it against them because they just want to make sure you understand the subject. 

However, sitting still for too long can give you back pain and tire you out. The speaker may not realize how painful it can be, because they are standing and moving around while teaching. By writing down an outline of the discussions, you get a good sense of what the conference was about, plus it keeps you focused. You can go home and recap on your own time, when you are fresh.

Interact every now and then

Try staying active in the hall so that the day will go by faster. If the speaker needs something, like making copies of some papers, offer to help. You get to move around and you will feel better. You can also join the discussions in the meeting if you can to help you stay awake. 

“Getting involved helps everyone” suggests Chris Jones of the Coaching Institute. “It helps the speaker realize that the attendees understands his/her lecture and they can move on to the next point.” However, don’t ask questions that you are not interested in knowing the answers to, as that would only make things worse for everybody.

Leave ten minutes early before lunch break

Ten minutes is ten minutes. It gets you to the car and on the way to your lunch break. If you leave ten minutes before lunch break, you are not missing much. The speaker usually ends with a conclusion of what he/she spoke about for the last hour and a half. If you jotted down a good outline of the conference, the last ten minutes will not make a difference if you are there or not.

Be rested an hydrated

Unfortunately, coffee doesn’t fix everything. Drinking too much caffeine can actually make you sleepy. Drink plenty of water instead. This will energize you and help you stay focused. If possible try to get a good night of sleep before this long conference.

Do other things

If you know the material and this meeting is solely for continued credit hours education, you may want to go ahead and work quietly on something else you have on your mind, like your shopping list or writing an article, like I did. Hey, why not? If you are bored out of your mind, you need something to keep you sane. However, do not crochet an entire blanket like the lady in front of me. That is disrespectful to the teacher. Also, do not pull out your phone or laptop/tablet, text, chew gum, whisper or lean over sound asleep. Everything else you may do besides listening to the teacher should be done in your brain or on a piece of paper. That way, you are not obvious.
More likely you’ve experienced one of these boring meetings before. If you haven’t, you will sooner or later. Remember to do your part in keeping interested. Who knows, you might just learn something.