Diary of a Road Warrior: A Week in the Life of Presenting at Conferences

What a terrific week of Learning and Development. I traveled from the East to West Coast and back to deliver four amazing sessions at TRAINING 2017 in San Diego, California and HRPA’s 2017 Annual Conference and Trade show in Toronto, Ontario. Here is brief play-by-play, that I know most Road Warriors have experienced, along with some Best Practices for Success, and a couple of recommendations to a few great dining establishments.

Sunday January 29, 2017

3:30 am EST– Wake up and head to the airport to fly from Ottawa to San Diego *Many cups of coffee required at this hour.

5:15 am EST – Board flight for San Diego; departure at 5:45

Best Practices #1:

  • Pack the night before and ensure you have everything.
  • Be aware of potential storms in your area that may cause flight delays or difficulty getting to the airport.
  • Ensure your alarm clock is working and set to the correct wake-up hour (AM versus PM).
  • If your checking luggage, be sure to wear “appropriate business-casual attire” in the event your luggage is lost.
  • Hand carry your laptop with your Presentation and PowerPoint deck on the hard drive and on a memory stick. Also carry a hard copy of your session handout and PowerPoint slides in the event of an AOTF (All-Out Technology Failure).
  • If your session is in another country, ensure you have your passport and check to see that the expiry date is not less than six months from the date of your travel.

Noon PST – Arrive in San Diego

  • 1:00 pm PST – Check into the hotel *Love the fact that this hotel has “early” check-in
  • 2:00 pm PST – After unpacking, go to the San Diego Conference Center

Best Practices #2:

  • Ship materials to the hotel under your name and your arrival date versus sending to the Conference Center. (Have tracking number and the name of the hotel person who signed for your box of materials.)
  • Have conference contact information in case of emergency.
  • Go to the Conference Center by the same mode of transportation that you will take for your session the next day, to see how long it takes to get there (taxi, walking, etc.).
  • Find the conference registration booth; register and determine where your room(s) are for your sessions.
  • If you can get into the room, review the room set-up for your session; determine if there are sessions right before and right after your session, to determine how much “set-up” and “tear-down” time you will have.

6:00 pm PST – Prep for my two sessions, Instructional Techniques for OJT and Coaching Informal Learning

7:00 pm PST – Have dinner close to the hotel.

10:00 pm PST – Lights out; big day tomorrow!

Best Practices #3:

  • Set your personal alarm and arrange a hotel wake-up call; don’t just depend on the automated hotel wake-up call system.
  • Know what you will be wearing the next day and have it “game-day ready”.

Monday January 30, 2017

6:00 am PST – Rise and shine Mr. Nolan, you’ve got two presentations to facilitate today.

6:45 am PST – Head to the San Diego Conference Center

7:00 am PST – Set up the conference room

8:00 am PST – Facilitate the first session: Instructional Techniques for OJT

Best Practices #4:

  • Arrive at least an hour prior to your session to set-up the room, distribute your handouts and check the technology (PowerPoint on their system, lapel microphone if required, etc.).
  • As participants arrive, greet as many as possible. This establishes your approachability and creates a positive learning environment.
  • Facilitate your session using engagement, need-and-relevance statements and a conversational tone.
  • Answer all questions and link back to your session objectives.
  • Get feedback from evaluations collected by your room monitor and review right after the session for any tweaking and fine-tuning.
  • Be available for “deeper-dive” questions after the session with participants.
  • Pick-up all your materials as a courtesy gesture for the next presenter.

10:00 am-2:00 pm PST – Take in some sessions and network. *WOW, what a great Conference!

2:00 pm PST – Set up the conference room for your second session

3:00 pm PST – Facilitate the second session: Coaching for Informal Learning

4:00 pm PST – Wrap up

5:00 pm 6:00 pm PST – Network, Network, Network

6:00 pm PST – Head back to the hotel for an early dinner

  • Best casual Italian in San Diego: Toscana Café & Wine Bar on Fifth
  • Put your feet up Mr. Nolan; two successful sessions and the opportunity to meet some great people

10:00 pm PST – Lights out for my long flight back home tomorrow

Tuesday January 31, 2017

7:00 am PST – Wake-up and have a nice, relaxing breakfast in preparation for an all-day flight home
*Best Breakfast in San Diego: Richard Walker’s Pancake House on Front Street

8:30 am PST – Head for the airport *Bye-Bye San Diego……. you are a beautiful city!

Best Practices #5:

  • When working in a different time zone, set your mind to respond to the time zone you’re presently in; don’t keep thinking its Eastern Standard Time or you will never get over “jet-lag”.
  • Pack the night before so that you are ready to get to the airport immediately the next day.
  • Check for flight delays.
  • Arrange for transportation the night before and arrive early at the airport.
  • Relax and enjoy the flight.

Wednesday February 1 2017

1:30 am EST – Arrive back home in Ottawa, after being in airports and planes for close to 14 hours

2:30 am EST – Home Sweet Home *Nothing feels better for the Road Warrior than sleeping in your own bed

7:00 am EST – Head into the office for the day and get ready for the next day’s travel and conference schedule

Thursday February 2, 2017

7:00 am EST – “Up and at ‘em” for HRPA Conference in Toronto

9:00 am EST – Flight to Toronto at a more civilized hour *Not as many coffees required as my Monday flight at 5:45 am to San Diego

10:00 am EST – Arrive in Toronto and head for the hotel

11:00 am EST – Unpack and have a final review of material for my first HRPA session: Characteristics of High Performance Learning Organizations

12:00 Noon – A quick lunch and head to the Toronto Conference Center


2:00 pm EST – Set up the conference room for my first presentation
3:00 pm EST – Facilitate the first session


4:00 pm EST – Take in some sessions as an attendee and network *Great to see some old friends and meet new clients

6:00 pm EST – Head back to the hotel for an early dinner

  • *Best casual Italian downtown Toronto: La Fenice on King

10:00 pm-EST – Early to bed for tomorrow and the fourth and final session of the week: The Role of HR and L&D in Coaching Activities


Friday, February 3, 2017

6:30 am EST – Wakeup and smell the coffee

7:15 am EST – Head to the Toronto Conference Center

8:00 am EST – Take in today’s Key Note Speaker Session

9:30 am EST – Set up the conference room for my 11:00 am session

11:00 am EST – Facilitate my second HRPA session

12:00 Noon EST – A quick lunch, meet-and-greet, network and head to the Island Airport for my 3:00 pm Flight home to Ottawa

  • *Bye-Bye Toronto……you are also a beautiful city!


Motto of the Road Warrior: “Control the Controllable and Manage the Uncontrollable”

FKA President
Michael Nolan

Michael Nolan has been President of Friesen, Kaye and Associates for over 30 years. He has personally trained over 30,000 participants across North America and Europe. Many of you have been to conferences in the past, of which Michael has been a conference speaker. We wanted to give you a first-hand look of what it feels like to be a facilitator at a conference…. Please be sure to share with us, your Road Warrior stories and Best Practices in the comments field below.