Please note that at any time I am making arrangements for at least 4 or 5 conferences, sometimes as many as 15 in the “high” season (spring and fall), so please, if you need some information, contact me. I have a system but it’s not fail-safe, so don’t wait for me.
I do my conferences on PowerPoint, so I will need an LCD projector. The projector should be, if possible, of high quality and relatively new. I show videos in my talks and a projector that shows well and with “normal” colours and bright light is a plus. I will bring my own laptop, but it is always a very good idea to have another computer available as backup. Computers are known to be quirky and fail when you most need them. I will bring with me not only my computer, but also a flash drive (memory stick, thumb drive, USB key) containing the lectures, just in case. As I frequently show video clips, a site where the light on the screen can be reduced to minimum is very helpful and a good projector is very important so that the videos show well.
I usually send links to the PowerPoints to the conference organizer several weeks in advance of the conference. The PowerPoint presentations can be copied on a disc for participants, or placed on a website for participants, instead of or in addition to paper handouts. If they wish to use these for presentations, this is fine with me, but I would like to be credited and I would insist that the spirit of the presentations be maintained. Obviously, each person will have somewhat different approaches, but again, the spirit of the presentation must be maintained. Perhaps not all participants will have computers easily available to them, and they might need paper handouts. More and more, the organizers are giving (or selling) the DVD’s with the power points etc and providing a few paper copies for those who might not have computers easily available to them.
It is best if as few people as possible (best of all is just one person) be contact persons for the conference. For some conferences I have had as many as 6 or 7 people all emailing me, asking for information, sometimes the same information I just sent to someone else. Sometimes people do not identify which conference they are representing, so that I don’t even know, with the new name appearing at the top of the email, which outlines they are asking for, for example.
I usually send you an itinerary for the flight as soon as I have the flight arranged. If the flight is not yet arranged, please let me know the latest I should arrive, and the earliest I can leave. Please check the itinerary to make sure it’s correct. If I am driving, I would very much appreciate instructions on how to get to where I am going.
I usually arrange my own flights, but if you wish to do the flights please try to get a flight with Air Canada, or Star Alliance group. If any part of the itinerary is with Air Canada, I need the booking reference for that portion of the itinerary.
If you are arranging to have me picked up at the airport, please have the person doing that carry a sign with my name on it, so that I can easily identify that person. Please make sure we both know where exactly we are meeting. It is nice to be picked up at the airport, incidentally. Taxis can be very expensive, and hotel shuttles often add an hour or more to the travelling time (“we’ll send the shuttle right away; he should be there in 30 minutes”).
I really must have an emergency phone number of somebody who will be available outside of regular office hours. This is in case there are problems with flight delays or even cancellations, car problems, whatever might come up. My cell phone number will be provided to you. I usually keep it closed, however when travelling as roaming charges are very costly but obviously in an emergency situation I will open it up.
I will not make arrangements for accommodation. Please do this for me. When accommodation is arranged, it is necessary I know the hotel name and phone number, and reservation code. US customs and immigration now require the address and zip code of the hotel or other accommodation and not having this information can cause problems getting into the US. Please let me know this information as soon as the accommodation is arranged. This is not a problem for Europe. I do not mind, even prefer, bed and breakfast accommodation, or other types of accommodation, if these are less expensive and/or more convenient.
If possible, it is helpful if all hotel expenses (including incidentals) are paid for by the conference. Don’t worry, I am frugal and will not charge long distance calls to China, meals for 20 people, champagne or anything unwarranted on the hotel bill. If the conference pays for room and tax only, the hotel insists on my providing a credit card for ‘incidentals”. Four times in the last few years, the hotel billed both the conference credit card and my credit card (double billed). This was eventually cleared up in all cases, but caused a lot of people a lot of headaches for a not inconsiderable period of time.
Much of my work involves answering emails from mothers, physicians and lactation consultants. If the hotel charges for use of their computers in the business centre or for connections to the internet in the room, I would like to be able to put this charge on the hotel bill to be paid by the conference. Furthermore, it is useful if I have internet access at the conference site as sometimes finding information on the internet can clear up points for participants and during some breaks or down time it also allows me to catch up with the emails.
If you still require some paper work, please let’s get that out of the way as soon as possible. This may include objectives and outlines, conflict of interest statements, tax information such as my TIN (US only), social insurance number etc.
Remember, I am a Canadian citizen, and pay taxes in Canada. Please make sure that there is no problem with my getting paid because of this. There should not be any problem, but sometimes large organizations are not flexible and cannot figure out the “unusual situation”. For your information, I enter the USA and can earn money in the USA without paying US taxes because I have a TN visa (NAFTA visa). (I wouldn’t mind paying US taxes instead of Canadian taxes, but I don’t want to pay both). I enter the US as a “physician-teacher” one of the permissible categories for the TN visa. It is best to make sure that there are no problems as far in advance as possible. Universities have been the biggest problem with regard to the payment of non US citizens. I cannot imagine why, as universities must have many non US citizens coming in to speak in many departments, but that’s how it seems to be.
It would be very nice to receive the honorarium at the conference, if possible. I know it is not always possible, but it is really nice if it can be arranged. It would also be very helpful, for tax purposes to have separate cheques for the honorarium and for the expenses. If you need an invoice for the honorarium/expenses, please make one up for me and email it to me. I will then sign it and send it back. It is too difficult to remember who needs an invoice, who doesn’t and the form the invoice must take (some organizations are very specific about how the invoice needs to be written). Please remember that included in the expenses are taxis fares back and forth in Toronto, which are fixed rates (not on the meter) and these days amount to $87 Canadian.
I don’t mind meeting with reporters, TV hosts of morning shows, etc if it can be worked out. The more good publicity we can get for breastfeeding, the better.
Of course I would be pleased to sign the books if people wish. Sales have been going very well with 1 book sold for every 2 or 3 participants at least at breastfeeding conferences. If the books don’t sell out, they can be sold later, at some other teaching session or conference, or in the hospital gift shop or arrangements can be made for the books to be returned to the publisher, though there may be a cost involved in returning the books.