Your annual meeting checklist

Be prepared for meeting highlights, and avoid meeting fails.

  1.   1. Download the meeting app. It is great to browse on your flight and plan your schedule, especially now that program booklets are not sent prior to the meeting. Find the app soon at
  2.   2. Hang onto your poster! Yes, you have your glossy poster ready to go, but what if you accidentally leave it at airport security because that lady behind you rushed you along because she decided to show up 20 minutes before her flight? Be sure to pack your poster printed out on sheets of paper as a backup. Carry the handouts with you in case you need to explain your work on the fly. 
  3.   3. Have your data nicely organized on your laptop. If you bring your computer to show off your data, have it labeled and easily accessible. You don’t want to make someone wait while you look around in your folders. It gets awkward really quickly.
  4.   4. Get your devices ready. For some reason, I need to travel with my laptop, tablet and cell phone. And they seem to all need to be charged at the same time. Remember to bring a charger for each. For international participants, bring a converter! Those are not easy to find at the last minute.
  5.   5. Pack a notebook and pen. It seems old-school but they’re handy when perusing posters, taking notes at talks or quickly writing down someone’s contact info. It is also way lighter than carrying around a laptop or tablet all day.
  6.   6. Nonacademic careers are all the rage these days. If you are looking to branch out from the lab, business cards are a must when networking. Nothing too fancy — just your name, job title and contact info. Adding your poster or talk title and presentation number makes it easy for others to find you later or to view your work.
  7.   7. Give your feet a break. We all want to look good, but heeled or tight shoes can be hard on the knees or feet after a full day of conferencing. Pack a pair or two of (stylish) comfortable shoes. While you’re at it, throw in some Band-Aids just in case.
  8.   8. Bring an extra pair of pants. OK, boys. I know most of you travel with one pair of pants and then you get caught in the rain or some other disaster. Just bring an extra pair, especially if you are going to meet colleagues – even if they are scientists.
  9.   9. Remember pain killers and other meds. Seriously, talking to scientists all day can give anyone a headache, and you know those little packets of two at the hotel cost as much as the whole bottle back home. For those of you with bad allergies, bring extra pills. New environments can produce some adverse effects.
  10. 10. Importantly, bring your I.D. You want to get on the airplane. Enough said.
 Shaila KotadiaShaila Kotadia ( is an ASBMB science policy fellow.