12 Tips to Blog a Conference the Fun and Accurate Way

When you blog a conference, you’re providing information with a sense of immediacy that is a welcome departure from the typical post. Who doesn’t like to read the latest words of wisdom spoken by industry influencers?

Conferences and Meetups are great places to acquire information of interest to your readers and blogging about them requires almost no research. You just report what the speaker(s) said. All the weight of supporting their thesis is theirs. Our job as bloggers is to listen and report correctly and entertainingly.

blog a conference wordcamp

Over the years, I’ve posted a lot from Blogging Meetups and Wine Conferences and have a few tips on how to blog a conference.

1. Be accurate

That is my top tip: never be wrong. Corrections suck, so check every fact and quote and spelling before hitting Publish.

2. Live blogging

This is the act of blogging on the fly to publish your post as soon as possible during the conference.

Live blogging was more popular in the years before Twitter when it was the most immediate form of communication. Twitter has made it easier to spit out your thoughts 140 characters at a time. And, conferences sometimes display Live Tweets, which are easier to consume than a blog post.

Live blogging also has the additional trap of being a slave to the venue’s Internet connection. Considering that dozens of people are tapping into the bandwidth, there’s the ever-present danger of being disconnected and losing your work. This is why it’s better to type offline into a text file, then paste your post into the blog editor.

The other danger of live blogging is posting something that’s incorrect. Perhaps you heard wrong while taking a sip of coffee or whispering to your neighbour. Live blogging must command all of your attention to pull off.  For all these reasons, I never live blog a conference.

3. Record speakers

If you’re not live blogging you have much more leeway to just enjoy the conference, especially if you record the presentations on your iPhone. Unlike tape recorders, and even Mini Discs, iPhones record amazingly clear audio that is almost broadcast quality. Actually, it is broadcast quality. With the speaker’s permission, you could add an edited audio track to the post.

By placing your iPhone in a strategic location — near the PA system, on the dais, pointed away from the crowd – you can capture audio that can be further enhanced in Garage Band to transcribe later.

Use your iPhone to catch a private conversation with the speaker, making it obvious you are recording it. In that case, clarify in your blog post that you were speaking privately.

Shooting a video is also helpful, but it doubles the preparation and unless you plan to upload it to your site, video might be be overkill.

Related: The Importance of iPhone Voice Memo for Blogging

4. Take notes

Recording a speech is no reason not to take notes. You’ll want to make a list of talking points you find interesting in the moment so that when you transcribe later you can skip to the good stuff.

Also, audio doesn’t describe the visual. Take notes on the speaker’s mannerisms, appearance and actions at the podium. Note valuable information being projected that is not read aloud by the speaker.

Use Twitter as your own personal note pad – albeit one the world can read. Your Twitter timeline will remind you what you thought was important at the moment.

5. Take pictures

It’s nice to see the speaker or panel in action, so don’t be afraid to march up to the front and take some shots. They expect to be photographed, just don’t be a nuisance.

If you’re in a good position, get a shot of the speaker with their Powerpoint slide projected behind them. Or, to remember the presentation (if it’s not going to be posted online) take a picture of the slide.

I like to shoot from behind the audience not just to see the slide and the speaker, but to illustrate the crowd’s attention to the projections.

6. Paraphrase

When writing your post after transcribing your recording, you’ll find that sometimes the speaker’s words are not succinct enough to get their message across. Sometimes they meander, sometime digress. That’s when you’ll want to paraphrase their words in a more direct way than originally spoken.

Just be sure to pepper the paraphrasing with, “He said,” or “She noted,” to make it clear it’s not author intrusion.

7. Quote

Quoting your speakers is hand-down the most captivating part of your conference blog since it allows readers to hear the persons voice. This is where your Voice Memo recording is critical. It will help get the quote exactly right and prevent the need to make corrections.

If the quote is not succinct enough, you can add clarifying words in [brackets] so readers know you are enhancing the quote.

8. Let speakers review

The best way to be accurate is to email the speaker their comments and context. They don’t have to see the whole post, just what relates to them. Not only will you be assured you got it right, you’ll earn their respect as a media professional. By lightyears.

Their corrections might even improve your post and their emailed comments may be worth adding. It’s just the professional thing to do.

This is another reason post-event posting beats live blogging.

9. Format the post 

Use callout formatting for quotes, bullet points for lists, and bolding for emphasis when annotated. And, keep sentences and paragraphs on the short side for easy skimming.

10. Focus the blog

When you blog a conference, you still need a beginning, middle and end to your post.

Even though you are reporting on public knowledge, don’t just regurgite the things you heard. Write the post in a digestible format with focus, theme, and hopefully, attitude.

  • Takeaways based on your impressions
  • Something new happening
  • What’s creating excitement
  • Pre-conceived notions shattered
  • Where’s the inspiration
  • What I learned
  • How to do it
  • Listicle of tips

11. Snap up the headline

Just because you blog a conference doesn’t mean your headline shouldn’t sparkle. 

Emphasize what the reader will take away from the story, not just what it’s about. Details are less important than keywords and it’s not always necessary to include the name of the conference.

Don’t say, “Joe Expert Discusses New Business at This Year’s Symposium.”

Say, “10 Things Joe Expert wants you to Stop Doing in Business Right Now.”

Offer your reader a promise to get them more excited about your post.

Related: 1 Awesome Headline Formula to Increase Your Blog Clicks Immediately

12. Add links and tags

Always link to the speaker in the first instance of their name. And their company. And link to relevant work by them. Tag all persons, places and things.

Blog a conference like pro

So the next time you blog a conference, bring your smart phone, laptop, chargers, camera, and note pads, and use them all to blog like a pro.

What’s your trick when blogging an event? Please tell me in the comments below.


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