Top 5 Tips for Preparing for ATA’s Annual Conference

From the President-Elect

David Rumsey

ATA’s 56th Annual Conference is just around the corner—November 4–7, 2015, at the Hyatt Regency Miami. As one of the largest conferences for translators and interpreters in the world, it’s an event not to be missed!

With thousands of attendees from around the globe and over 175 individual educational sessions, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. This is especially true for first-time attendees. So, here are a few tips for getting the most from your conference experience.

  1. Plan Ahead: ATA’s Annual Conference has a lot to offer in such a short time. Review the program carefully before you get to Miami. Figuring out in advance which sessions you want to attend and which vendors you want to visit in the Exhibit Hall will bring you the biggest benefit. The conference is a pivotal time during the year for ATA, when new Board members are elected and we look back over the year and chart a new course forward. The same could be said for all of us. Attending the conference is also a good time for you to take stock of your business and consider what skills and technologies you want to add to your portfolio.
  2. Be Brave: Sometimes the sessions that bring you the best rewards are the ones you hadn’t considered before. Veteran attendees know that you can learn the most by attending sessions on topics with which you have relatively little experience or are unfamiliar. You may discover an entirely new source of inspiration and income! A Spanish literary translator may pick up some interesting tips from a Portuguese literary session. Medical interpreters may discover related technology sessions to be equally fascinating. On a related note, machine translation is a good example of something that few people truly understand. Attending the Association for Machine Translation in the Americas MT Summit XV, which also takes place at the Hyatt Regency Miami a few days immediately prior to ATA’s Annual Conference, is also a good chance to get to understand how this technology works and how you can help make sure it works for you instead of against you. For details, please visit
  3. Dig Deep: Sometimes you may be so inspired by a topic that you find a one-hour session is just not enough. That’s why ATA offers a series of three-hour in-depth pre-conference seminars on the Wednesday before the official start of the conference. These amazingly affordable seminars provide in-depth knowledge on specific topics with expert speakers. From the fine points of technical writing to the details of Title VI legislation, these seminars can seriously sharpen your skills. Also on Wednesday, the popular pre-conference Tool Training sessions are a perfect opportunity to master the hidden features of various computer-assisted translation tools.
  4. Get Connected: The ever-popular ATA Conference App is coming back this year and it is better than ever. With free Wi-Fi throughout the conference venue, attendees will be able to take full advantage of the app anywhere and at any time during the conference. In addition to having the conference program and updates at your fingertips, the app allows you to create a profile so that you can connect with attendees and clients with similar interests. Not only will you be able to use the app to rate individual sessions, but also to take notes, which you can then download and export to your own computer. Be sure to visit ATA’s conference page for instructions on how to download the app via your smart phone, tablet, or laptop. You can find instructions for creating your profile, downloading notes and session handouts, using the improved match feature, and a host of extended features at
  5. Reach Out: Let’s face it, as translators we spend far too much time staring at a computer. The conference is one of the few times when we can get out from behind a computer screen and connect with real individuals in person. But for a lot of us, this can be intimidating. That’s why there are a host of activities to help bring your inner extrovert out. If it’s your first time, consider attending the Newbies Welcome Buddies event to find a one-on-one connection to help you navigate the conference. The Brainstorm Networking event also provides a chance to meet people in a relaxed setting while discussing common business challenges. There are also events, both before and after the regular sessions, where you can meet people and make contacts the old-fashioned way, such as the Welcome Celebration; Zumba; Stretch, Breathe, and Move; Book Splash; After Hours Café; and the Conference Dance Party.

Bottom Line: ATA’s Annual Conference offers an excellent opportunity for inspiration, innovation, and exposure. Regardless of whether you’re a conference veteran or a first-timer, using these tips will ensure that you get the most out of your time in Miami. See you there!


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