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9th May 2018 Jemma Green

Top Tips for attending AMA conference 2018

Having only started working for the AMA in October last year, Jemma Green, our Senior Marketing Officer — Events will be taking part in AMA conference 2018 — The Power of Play as a first time attendee.

Not knowing what to expect, and feeling slightly intimidated by the sheer scale of AMA conference, she decided to ask the AMA members, team and Board for their ‘Top Tips’, to help her prepare for July.

If you’re also a first time attendee, these tips might come in handy:

Be brave and talk to people, think of 3 questions you can ask anyone and then you’ve got your conversation openers ready to go.

Be open-minded — if a case study doesn’t provide you with ideas that are immediately replicable, ask yourself how you could apply what they are sharing to your organisation.

Do as much as you can — speak to exhibitors, talk to delegates, listen to speakers, get stuck into the socials, rinse the value out of the abundance of opportunities AMA conference offers.

Share your learning — with your colleagues at work, with your peers on Twitter, with us; we want to know what you think, what you learnt and how you’ll use it.

Cath Hume, CEO, AMA


  1. Attend! This is a great opportunity to network with like-minded individuals within the sector, all in one place.
  2. Network! Speak to as many people as you can and learn from what challenges other organisations might be facing. Speed networking is fun, not formal!
  3. Socialise! The social events are always fun and have a great variety, but people are more relaxed and open in these environments. Get chatting, say hello and network.

Simon Donovan, Business Development Manager, Purple Seven



“Hang about at the end of a breakout session: you can often get a few minutes of high-value one-to-one access to top industry experts. But don’t tell anyone I told you that or everyone will be doing it”

Mel Larsen, Independent Marketing Consultant




  1. Get yours hands on a portable phone charger if you can! Twitter is the place to be during the AMA conference, so some extra juice to keep your phone charged throughout the day is essential.
  2. Download the AMA conference app before the event (details coming soon!) — you’ll have the conference timetable at your fingertips and it will keep you fully up to date.
  3. Comfy shoes are a must — the AMA conference is our biggest event of the year and that means the venue is generally quite large! Slip on your trainers or lowest heels to look after your feet.
  4. Make sure to pack your business cards, if you have them.
  5. There are so many socials and networking opportunities at the AMA conference, so it’s your chance to take full advantage. Set yourself a goal of how many new people you’d like to speak to at different points during the AMA conference, and stick to it! You’ll have a handful of new connections in no time at all, and setting yourself a goal makes the prospect of talking to new people a bit less daunting, if you’re not a natural networker.

Danielle Patrick, Head of Projects & Events, AMA


Go to the socials! And make the most of all the networking opportunities that you can.  Especially if you’re a first timer or new to the industry (I was both last year).  The connections you can make are invaluable, plus you make new friends that you can meet up with every year.

Get to the sessions on time!!

Say hi to the AMA staff, we love to put names and faces together 😊

Abby Deem, Events & Programmes Officer, AMA




“Highlight which delegates you want to connect with, in advance of the AMA conference.”

Fiona Higgins, Business Development Associate, AMA



AMA delegates are a friendly bunch so don’t be shy about introducing yourself, everyone was a first timer once!

If you can, try to avoid the temptation to check your work emails during sessions. Enjoy (the often rare) opportunity to think beyond the day-to-day.

Abby Corfan, Director of Marketing & Digital, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra



  1. Know which sessions you’re going to. There’s nothing worse than feeling lost or not knowing where you need to go next. We ask you to select your sessions ahead of the event so once you’ve done this download it, print it off, screenshot it, tattoo it on your arm, whichever method works for you!
  2. Be a sponge. Soak up all the different elements of AMA  conference. It’s hard to not check your emails and it can be easy to worry about what you could be doing back at your desk. Take this opportunity to think creatively away from the day-to-day and full embrace being surrounded by inspirational people and soak up all the ideas that you can. Enjoy the time out of the office knowing that you’ll return brimming with ideas and a renewed energy for your work.
  3. Wear layers. As someone who feels the cold, even with AMA conference being in July, lots of the rooms may well have air conditioning. If you’re like me, wear layered clothing and the must-have artsy scarf.

Verity Sanderson, Head of Marketing — Events, AMA





“Roomy trousers for all the delicious food you’re going to eat.” 

Ciara Harris, Marketing Administrator — Membership Engagement, AMA




  1. Make sure you wear your lanyard at all times during AMA conference – you might need it to get into socials and it makes it easier for people to come up to you if they can see your name and where you’re from.
  2. Food queues are a great place to meet other delegates and get chatting about the food and more importantly about the conference. Look at food queues as an opportunity not a hindrance.
  3. Don’t forget your toothbrush.
  4. Enjoy!

Jacqueline Haxton, Editor, AMA


The AMA conference  was exceptionally well organised and the calibre of the talks and panel discussions very high. There can therefore be a feeling that you want to split yourself into several parts and go to everything! As we cannot (yet) clone ourselves, my tips would be:

  1. Try going to a session which is not an ‘obvious’ fit for your role or organisation. This will often expose you to  a refreshingly different perspective and may surprise you in the ideas it stimulates.
  2. Ask ‘stupid’ questions; speak up, articulate your thoughts, engage, even if you feel less experienced or slightly intimidated by the more experienced participants. You (and everyone else) will get much more from the sessions as a result of engaging (and the atmosphere at the AMA conference is very warm and friendly anyway- not at all intimidating!). You will also enjoy it more!
  3. Look for metaphors and parallels between the examples you hear/see and what happens in your own organisation. I attended as a non-arts and non-marketing social entrepreneur and came away with a really good set of ideas for developing our communications strategy.

Jane Cordell, Director, Result Coaching and Training CIC


“Try not to always sit with the same people in sessions or at lunch breaks. Conference is an amazing opportunity to meet new people and you can learn so much from the other delegates.”

Sarah Ogle, Marketing and Communications Director, Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse Theatres




Jemma says: “Thank you to everyone who sent in their ‘Top Tips’ — it has made AMA conference seem a little less intimidating and more like an incredible opportunity to learn and get to know others in the cultural sector.”



AMA conference — The Power of Play

24 — 26 July | ACC, Liverpool