Seminar Survival: How to Survive a Seminar without FREEZING to Death!

To paraphrase the illustrious Mark Twain:

“The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in a SEMINAR ROOM.”

We’ve all been there, right? It’s 90 degrees outside, yet inside the seminar area, it’s so cold you can practically see your breath.

And this phenomenon isn’t unique to seminars. Conventions, conference rooms, movie theaters…so many places that we frequent in the summer go all Antarctic Winter with their air conditioning systems the second the calendar flips into June.

Of course, freezing cold venues aren’t only a problem in summer. I’ve encountered them year ‘round. But when it’s chilly outside, I’m at least somewhat sartorially prepared. I’m wearing wool slacks. A turtleneck. Perhaps even a thick cashmere cardigan.

But when it’s toasty out, and we ladies are sporting skirts and sandals—lest we melt under the broiling sun—we’re freaking defenseless against the frosty environs that so often greet us upon entering any sort of commercial building.

I know this may seem like an unusual topic for a blog devoted to preparing women for life’s emergencies, but when you think about it, this IS a type of emergency! When you’re committed to sitting inside an 8-hour seminar (or 2-hour movie or 1-hour meeting) and it’s so cold that your toes are going numb, your brain is not going full-tilt. Aside from not being able to appropriately concentrate on the topic at hand, should a real crisis occur (shooter enters the room, 8.5 quake rocks the building, etc.), you’re not going to respond with the alacrity that could very well save your life!

So let’s fix that!

I’ve attended a LOT of seminars over the years, and here are my top 5 tips for staying toasty:

Insulated water bottle filled with HOT WATER

water bottle seminar survival

This water bottle is a double agent: it hydrates and warms!

This is my NUMBER ONE TIP!!! Personal experience has taught me that those ubiquitous cardboard coffee cups will only keep your beverage warm for about 15 minutes. Since most seminars don’t give more than one break per hour, that leaves you with 45 minutes of shivering. My solution—that I’ve shared with pretty much every woman who has ever sat next to me in a seminar—is to fill an insulated water bottle with hot water at a temperature that is still drinkable, but just barely. The water bottle I have keeps water hot for up to 12 hours…and the water remains tepid up to 24 hours later. Pretty amazing.

Chemical hand warmer packets

Chemical handwarmer hand warmer packs exothermic survival

I buy these by the case!

Oh, you knew I was gonna go there, didn’t you? J Regular readers of this blog know of my undying love for the chemical hand warmer packets. At the start of a seminar, if I’m wearing a jacket with pockets, I’ll tuck one packet into each side. If I lack pockets up top, I’ll tuck a packet into each hip pocket on my pants. One caveat: if your pants are made of thin material, the hand warmer packets can actually start to burn your thighs! (painful voice of experience) So make sure you periodically pull them out of your pants pockets and hold them in your hands to let them cool off a bit. A bit of a hassle, I agree, but totally worth it!

Layers, layers, layers

woman shawl seminar survival

This is not how I wear my shawl.

This is an obvious one, I know, but I’ve seen so many women not think about it that I feel compelled to present this as part of the Staying Warm Solution. Even if it’s pushing 100 degrees outside, always toss a pashmina or other wrap into your bag. Heck, I’ve even whipped out a shawl inside a grocery store that was so cold, my husband said my lips had turned blue (ooo, sexy). Another advantage of this: if you’re out and about all day and the sun goes down, you’re prepared for the cool of the evening without having to go home and change clothes.

Silk or cashmere scarf

silk scarf seminar survival

This is my scarf. There are many like it, but this one is mine.

Anyone who hangs out with me knows how much I love my scarves. I have so many, I bought a special scarf organizer for our coat closet. My favorite ones are made of tissue-weight cashmere or medium-weight patterned silk. Orvis makes some really great ones! Both pack down super-small, but the cashmere option tends to be more forgiving when it’s subjected to abuse. I have a gray cashmere scarf that has kept me warm in Japan, served as a dust mask while on safari in South Africa, and shielded my head from the sun in Costa Rica. Super-versatile, and it shrugs off wrinkles pretty easily. Silk is much more persnickety (don’t use it in the rain), and the wrinkles tend to be harder to get out (which is why I go for patterns in my silk scarves)…but its warmth-to-weight ratio is awesome!

Closed-toe shoes…with SOCKS

Hiking boots socks seminar survival

This is perhaps more extreme than necessary….

Oh, so many of you ladies are going to hate this one. I know several women who just don’t feel like they look “professional” without their high heels. But unless you’re rockin’ the 1980s ZZ Top look, you’re going to have nekkid tootsies whilst wearing your stilettos. So get rebellious when you know you’re headed to a notoriously chilly venue. Channel your inner menswear aficionado and don a pair of slacks, along with some brogues and socks. You’ll still look professional, and you’ll avoid that oh-so-unattractive shivering look.

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And now you know my Secrets to Seminar Survival…well, at least relative to staying warm! Got any tips of your own? Let me know via the Contact form!

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