NCT Forum: 10 tips for delegate survival

Posted on: 21/06/2011

It happens but once a year. Nevertheless, an NCT Forum is not an event to be taken lightly. Follow these tips and you should breeze through the day…

Image courtesy of Decembermum on Flickr

1. Wear good sturdy shoes. Flip flops, high heels and the like will take their toll on your feet as you mooch around the exhibition stands/chat to fellow specialist workers practitioners. By the time you leave, you will have been on your feet for around four hours or more, and, no matter how wonderful your pedicurist, your feet will be dirty, sore and swollen if you chose flip-flops as your footwear.

2. Remember to use the word ‘Practitioner’ so nobody realises you haven’t read any of the mountains of emails telling you useless stuff like this. Say ‘Specialist Worker’ and you will give the game away.

3. It may be unfashionable, but a backpack is a really good idea. You get monstrous amounts of paperwork, free samples, water, and that’s before you’ve bought anything off the stands. Those free samples add up. 14 sachets of SpaTone? Of course you’ll need them all. Without a backpack, your arms will drop off by lunchtime.

4. Don’t worry about bringing your chequebook. The good stands will invoice you by PayPal before you get home. The better stands will take a credit card number. The bad stands won’t, and then you have an excuse not to buy anything off them.

5. Don’t try and talk to all the people on all the stands, unless you want to miss the really great talk by the latest author on a relevant topic.  Which, incidentally, you’ll kick yourself for missing because it turns out she’s actually an excellent speaker with something extraordinarily worthwhile to say.

6. If  you don’t like staple sandwiches, bring your own lunch. It’s almost always sandwiches. They’re OK as sandwiches go, but the Ritz hotel this is not.

7. If you have a gripe with head office, by all means use this opportunity to air it, but be careful how you say so in a plenary session. Whining will be sure to earn you dirty looks from people who feel you’re wasting your time. Best to have a valid complaint followed immediately with a viable solution. Saying, ‘this stinks and we hate it’, is unhelpful, and everyone would much rather be outside drinking coffee even if they do happen to agree with you.

8. Do not expect all the exhibition stands to have any relevance to NCT work. Those that have a tenuous link can be deathly boring and you can be suckered into a ten-minute conversation about something you really didn’t need to know. Such as amniotic leak detection. On the other hand, those stands with the least relevance may be the most interesting. My favourite stand was about green electricity. I know. Green electricity and NCT? Who’d have thought it.

9. Take the opportunity to talk to head office people – and be smiley and enthusiastic.  That way, when you ring them to whine about something three months down the line, they’ll be more inclined to help you out, even though they are rushed off their feet trying to do the work of three people on one measly charity salary.  Also, they’re really, really nice, which helps.

10. Finally, go out of the correct exit. If you leave by the door most convenient for the train station, you will not pass go or collect £200 be able to collect your attendance certificate – which could be disastrous if you are a student needing to show off your study day brownie points in your final portfolio.

Well done! You made it through the day intact. Expect to sleep well, once you’ve travelled however many hours back home. And dream NCT for several nights running. Sorry about that.


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