Eight important tips on how to negotiate Sin City and get the most from the Technologies for Worship Conference at the 2008 NAB Show
I started coming to NAB back in the last century. The NAB Show has been held in Las Vegas for a number of years now. While some things have changed in that time, other things have remained remarkably the same. My first trip out was, in essence, a seemingly daunting task. However, it did not take long for me to get the hang of it, and since then I have developed some healthy survival tips to make the city work for me rather than the other way around.
Las Vegas is still a very dry atmosphere for Christians, partly due to the lack of moisture in the air, but also due to the fact that the environment is also very “wet”, (read overindulgence in alcohol).
As for the NAB Show, you will see more gear than you can probably afford to buy on the show floor. You will also see vaporware, as in products that are there one year and then gone the next. Either way, there is no lack of extremely cool products featured at the show that you will undoubtedly see as a benefit to your church or ministry.
If you plan ahead, learn to drink responsibly, wear the right clothes and keep both an open mind and a restricted, (yet not closed) pocketbook, you will not only survive Las Vegas and NAB, you will make it a great convention for yourself and the ministry where God has planted you.
Let’s get to it.
#1 – Plan ahead.
You can do this important step in several ways. Prior to the convention, request or make appointments with the people you really need to see during your time there. If you have a good relationship with manufacturers or their reps, start making the calls now to line up demos and discussions at the show. Over the years, I’ve learned that you can get an appointment for a private demo if you know a sales rep and have a history for seriously considering and then making purchases. Please remember that these people have a limited time at the conference as well, so try to be considerate of their time.
Your planning should also involve obtaining one of the numerous maps of the show floor that are available. Plan your route each day, allowing for meals, meeting old friends on the floor, etc. If you just wander through the miles of booths and exhibits, (and it is literally miles of exhibit space) you will come away dazed and confused. Yes, you can deviate from the plan, but at least try to start out with a plan before you arrive. Pick a reference point like one of the large booths in each of the various halls and then plan your route from there.
The most important part of your pre-planning though, should involve your schedule of the numerous educational opportunities available through the TFWM sessions as well as the on-the-floor hands-on programs. Carefully consider your day, remembering to, as the Bible says, redeem the time. The evenings will provide some time for fellowship and other meetings, and that brings us to number two.
#2 – Get plenty of Rest.
Get plenty of rest before you get to Las Vegas, and be sure to take the time you need to recharge during the day and in the evening as well. The altitude and the pace can be killer. It seems like every year I know someone who gets to feeling a little poorly during their time at NAB. Don’t let that happen. You don’t have to see every act up and down the strip. Go back to the room and get some sleep.
#3 – Bring an Easy to Carry Bag, and put Water In It!
You know the drill – your body needs lots of water. Drink lots of it. Don’t worry, the show will still be going on when you return from your hourly trip to the facilities. The climate in Vegas is desert, even though the downtown may look like Beverly Hills (and New York, and Paris and…) You need lots of water in this environment. The dry heat outside and the air-conditioning inside can leave you nearly desiccated, but you can be ready for that by drinking lots of water.
While on the subject of what to carry in your comfortable bag, bring a camera. Many times it’s difficult to describe to the folks back home just how neat a particular gizmo was, and in my case it’s difficult to remember what happened yesterday. So take photos and make notes. They’ll come in handy later.
#4 – Wear Comfortable Shoes and Clothing.
Even though we’re here on business you’ll see all kinds of attire at NAB. From the all black of the dedicated tech/producer/artsy type ninja, to the loud Hawaiian shirt and shorts of the ultra cool, and usually independent, future media mogul. There’s room for your black socks as long as you cover them in great foot protection. Do not wear your business dress shoes unless you plan on long sessions of sitting. If possible, wear tennis shoes with arch support or your comfort sole pair. You’ll be doing lots of walking and standing even if you rent a car.
#5 – Stay Prayed Up.
There’s that whole ad campaign you’ve probably seen about what happens in Vegas. As you leave the convention center every evening you’ll end up catching glimpses of what “happens in Vegas” and it’s not for the pure of heart. This is not the place to let your quiet time go. In fact much like preparing for battle, you need to be prayed up before you even get on the plane. I’m not perfect, not even remotely, but I’ve made it a practice for years to bring along a devotional or inspirational book to NAB that I’ve been meaning to read but just haven’t gotten around to yet. Over the years I’ve been amazed at the inspiration I’ve received, even outside of the educational sessions – back at the hotel with a great book.
#6 – Don’t Be a Stranger!
This is a great opportunity to meet new people in your field, from those attending and presenting in the TFWM educational sessions, to the reps from the various companies on the show floor. You can use this time as an opportunity to meet people that may have a lasting effect on your ministry. Now again, be considerate of the time of others but don’t be so shy as to not just walk right up and introduce yourself and briefly explain your ministry. Partnerships are forged when two parties agree together. You won’t get that chance if you never meet new people.
#7 – Ask Questions
If you don’t know, ask! The educational sessions provide an opportunity for this, as do the opportunities on the floor. Listen during the sessions and take lots of notes, and if something isn’t clear, don’t worry what the rest of the room will think – ask your question. If you miss your opportunity during the seminar, there may be other times when you’ll run into a presenter in the hallway or somewhere else. If the opportunity presents itself, go ahead and ask your question. Remember to be sensitive to the presenter’s time. This is a great chance for learning and learning is not all presentation – it’s a combination of presentation and questions!
#8 – Be Intimidated and yet Not Intimidated.
Yes, there are some pretty big dogs presenting information at NAB. Yes, they have a collective million years of experience, and stories to go along with it. Yes, they should be shown some degree of respect and appreciation for what they’ve accomplished and for the information they can share. At the same time, you shouldn’t let the accomplishments of others keep you from fulfilling the promise God has for your life. You can say, “I’m just a worm. I don’t belong here.” Or you can say, “This is great! These folks have been used of God and now they can help me develop the gifts God has given me.” Use this time to become even more inspired and further develop the dreams the Lord has given you.
Hey, I hope I see you in Vegas. I’ll be the guy with the comfortable bag, running shoes, a map, a bottle of water, and all the questions!