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Straight talk: Surviving conference coffee

Phil Ward—deputy director of research services at the University of Kent and a Funding Insight columnist—has six top tips for getting the most out of conferences.

Conference coffee is unique. It lures you in with the promise of a sensory jump-start for the post-lunch plenary, but it delivers nothing but empty heat and the memory of something better. And yet you’ll be awash with it. Like Kate and Leonardo endlessly running down corridors in Titanic pursued by dark and mysterious water—innocuous but deadly—that will be you and the coffee. Surviving it is the first and most important rule of thriving at a conference.

You could just abstain for the duration, or favour tea instead. The tea’s usually fine. You could ration yourself, safe in the knowledge that less is definitely more. You could find a wonderful little hipster coffee shop close by, and nip out a couple of times a day for a shot of caffeine and sanity. Whatever you do, once you’ve beaten the conference coffee, the rest is a breeze.

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