Conference blogging made easy: a few tips

The last couple of months I’ve covered three conferences for The Next Web: Le Web 3 in Paris, LIFT08 in Geneva and Plugg in Brussels. Before that, I didn’t really supplied my readers with live coverage. So when I opened my macbook in Paris, I was pretty surprised by the energy and the attention conference blogging asks. You have to listen, write and think about what the speaker is saying at the same time. Moreover, people expect you to post soon pretty fast after the speaker has left the stage.

During Le Web 3, the whole act of live blogging was pretty overwhelming for me. After that, I started thinking how I could make conference blogging more easy. So I started working on a list of tips. Yet also during LIFT08 and Plugg I sometimes thought I was losing control. So I guess it really is a learning process, and this list is still just a start. I decided to publish it now, since The Next Web conference is on its way, so some preparation doesn’t hurt anybody.

Oh and by the way, I’ve left out the obvious ones like ‘charge all the batteries of your devices’. I assume you’ve thought about them already. If you have any advices to add, please drop them in the comments.

Before you go to the conference, have a look at the schedule and…

Decide want kind of coverage you want to offer your readers

Are you going to provide short updates via Twitter and tools like Or do you prefer to get the speakers for your camera? I like to give my readers a quick summary of what the speaker has said, find some examples to draw a more vivid picture and then give my analysis and thoughts about the subject. My main goal is to get people thinking about what the speaker has said.

Find out who is covering the event as well

So that you can make a deal with another blogger to link to each other. If you’ve decided to give short updates, you could cooperate with a blogger who wants to write longer pieces. By doing that, you offer your readers the best of both worlds. Get in touch with the organizers or check the list of attendees to find out who your fellow bloggers are.

Write the first paragraph

When it comes to covering a keynote or a panel, you can easily write the first paragraph at home. Do some research about the speakers, see what their expertises are, what kind of impressive statements they’ve made and collect the links to their blogs and bios. With that info, you can write an introduction for the speakers. Moreover, you know what they’ve said about the subject of the keynote in the past.

Make sure you’ll manage without a proper Wifi connection

During Le Web 3 and Lift08 the wireless Internet was pretty unreliable, which is every live blogger’s nightmare. So it’s highly recommended to make sure you’ll do an ok job without having a good connection all the time. So copy/paste those background texts you’ve written in a text file and upload some pictures of speakers to your server. You might also want to use an off line blog editor like BlogJet. Best of all is asking the conference organizers for a cable connection. You never know, they might say yes.

Ask for a little help of your friends

As I mentioned before, conference blogging is a stressful job. So grammatical errors or typos might sneak into your articles. Don’t worry about it, you readers will understand. Yet you’ll probably mind, therefore it’s a good idea to give a friend login credentials so he or she can check your articles and correct them when needed.

So those are my most important advices for now. I’m looking forward to hearing your tips and experiences.

What other bloggers are saying about conference blogging

Author: Ernst-Jan Pfauth

Ernst-Jan Pfauth is mede-oprichter en uitgever van De Correspondent. Hij is geobsedeerd door innovatie in media en journalistiek. Daar schrijft hij elke zaterdagmorgen een nieuwsbrief over, waar ruim 2.400 vakgenoten op geabonneerd zijn.

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