How to Attend International Conferences


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Explains in detail the procedure,protocol and etiquette of attending international conferences and meetings by the public servants

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How to Attend International Conferences

  1. 1. Shahid Hussain Raja Independent Consultant-Public Policy
  2. 2.  Introduction  Types of Conferences  Pre-departure Issues  Things to do at Arrival  How to Attend  Post –Conference Issues  Extra Things to do  Conclusion
  3. 3.  Most of you will be attending international conferences during your career  Unfortunately majority go without proper preparation, losing a golden opportunity to represent your country, advance national interest, learn new skills and broaden your mental horizon  Following slides contain guidelines to take meaningful participation in these conferences
  4. 4.  Broadly there are two types of conferences Sponsored by UN agencies Sponsored by other agencies  Mostly you will be only attending these conferences but in some you will have to take decisions on behalf of your government  In some cases you are required to read a report or a paper ,highlighting your country’s point of view on the issue under discussion
  5. 5.  Obtaining permission of the competent authority to attend the conference  Arrangement of funding –official as well as personal  Preparation of report and its formal approval by the head of department  Contacting foreign office and through it, the embassy of your country in the host country
  6. 6.  Flight reservation as well as hotel booking as per your entitlement and its intimation to your embassy  Preparation of luggage ad essential things to take with you i.e. documents, cards, gifts, clothing, medicines  Do get yourself medically insured as it is included in your cost of travelling abroad.
  7. 7.  Hold detailed discussion with the concerned officer of the embassy and sort out the strategy to adopt during the conference.  Find out the protocol to be followed and etiquette to be observed if attending for the first time  Also the sensitive issues to take care of
  8. 8.  Arrive fairly before the time to avoid the first day’s registration rush  Once inside the hall and properly seated examine the layout and get yourself familiarized with the surrounding  Then start meeting different delegates, starting with your immediate neighbours and the ones with whom your country has special relations
  9. 9.  You must be in your seat when the final bell rings and listen carefully to the agenda for the day using the multi-lingual head phones installed at every seat  After the election of the chairperson and the vice chairperson for the day, which had already been decided by the sponsors a day earlier, the conference starts  Let few speakers speak before you raise your nameplate to indicate that you will also like to speak at your turn  When noticed by the chairperson of the day, put your nameplate vertically in front of your seat
  10. 10.  Take notes of what the speakers are saying as you may have to reply if any point relating to your country is discussed by any of them.  When you are called to speak, start with the greetings to all according to the time of the day  Afterwards thank the chair for giving you the time to speak and congratulate both of them on their election as chairperson/vice chairperson of the day
  11. 11.  Greet the audience if some important event /festival has passed or is nearby i.e. Christmas, Eid, New year etc.  Show your sympathy to the representatives of the country where some disaster has struck recently i.e. tsunami, earthquake etc.  Start by endorsing what previous speakers have said if you agree with what they have said
  12. 12.  Now start by reading from your report you have got approved from your head of department, suitably amended up till now  Do not try to speak extempore as it may land you in trouble  Give a copy of your report in advance to the rapporteur of the conference as it will be helpful for the interpreters as well as the rapporteur for compiling the report
  13. 13.  Keep on addressing the chair after every one or two paragraphs and do look to them as often as possible  Try to vary the tone of your voice and avoid monotonous reading of the written text  Once finished ,thank the chair as well as the audience for patient listening and straighten your nameplate  Keep on taking the notes during the conference and do request the chair to allow you to speak again if someone has made remarks which you need to clarify
  14. 14.  If you have to read a paper or make a presentation ,then you will be invited to the dais by the chair on your turn  Make sure that the copies of your speech have already been distributed among the participants and are not delivered during your speech.  Keeping eye contact with the audience, often addressing the chair and varying your voice are essential etiquette of any conference
  15. 15.  Prepare draft note and hand it over to the concerned officer of the embassy  Discuss the draft report with the Ambassador /Charge D’Affairs of the embassy if there are important actions to be taken immediately  Submit final report to the head of department as soon as you arrive back in the country  Distribute its copies to the concerned officers after its approval by the competent authority
  16. 16.  Keep yourself fully abreast of facts and figures about your country .These should be at your finger tips.  You should be fully aware of all the details of any current/burning issue relating to your country which could come up for discussion during an informal meeting with any delegate  Never skip any official lunch/dinner as these are excellent opportunities to represent your country in a relaxed atmosphere  Do show your interest in other countries by asking intelligent questions from their representatives during the breaks/lunches but never crack jokes about a country on the basis of any stereotype classification
  17. 17.  Representing your country in an international conference is an honour for a civil servant  Full preparation before departing, dutifully attending the conference and submitting detailed report about the proceedings of the conference and action points are a must for meaningful participation
  18. 18.  Thank you for viewing the presentation  Its updated article version is available at my website  Kindly do visit the above website and leave your comments there  Any suggestion for improvement will be duly acknowledged