In blog

The annual NJ TransAction conference in Atlantic City (April 12-14) is easily one of our favorite industry events of the year, and this past April’s show was no exception. I personally love going to TransAction because I see industry friends, enjoy the session topics, and I always look forward to my presentation (yes, I’m a public speaking nerd). For three days, several members of the Stokes team and I attended sessions and several networking events and manned our booth next to the registration table. The Tropicana Hotel and Casino was our temporary home as we enjoyed bumping elbows with many familiar folks, clients, and meeting lots of new and interesting people over talks of transportation topics.

On Tuesday, April 12, 2016, after the first day wrapped up of the annual NJ TransAction conference, Stokes proudly hosted a pop-up art gallery at Chickie’s & Pete’s restaurant. The theme was “The Art of Construction,” and we showcased 20 large-display photos on easels around the room for the attendees to see. Additionally, a 30×40 inch high-resolution (50 megapixel) aerial shot of the New NY Bridge (Tappan Zee) was on display. Photographers Zac Stokes and Lauren Adams were on hand to answer many intriguing questions from guests about their work, as well as receive several compliments. The event was a huge success because it gave us an opportunity to share our stunning construction photos with fellow industry professionals, mingle and network with new friends and enjoy food and laughs with more than 60 guests.

Wednesday was a very long day of workshops, followed by a networking reception into the evening hours. By the time the day was over, all of my plans for finding a little time to review my presentation notes for the next morning had fizzled. Luckily, my batteries were fully refreshed on Thursday morning when I met Chris, Patty, Brenda and the rest of our team to get ready for our session titled “The Engineer’s Toolbox: Communication skills and marketing strategies for success.”

The room of attendees filled up quickly and at 8:35am off I went teaching technical communicators how they can be clearer, when suddenly the hotel fire system sounded and an automated alert came on to explain that it was only a test. This “test” tested my patience as I struggled to project my voice louder than the high-pitched chirps and distracting blinking lights. I tried to pause during the interruptions but it wasn’t working and we were losing time. It was one of those situations where you realize that things can come up unexpectedly and how you choose to react to it is a true testament of your character and professionalism. Luckily, Chris and I kept the audience entertained as we made jokes about the incident and continued on through our presentation like champs. By the time the alarm system test was finished, we wrapped up questions and answers and headed back to the booth to pack up and head out of Atlantic City. PHEW!

Here are a few lessons I learned from the experience:

  • Eight hours of sleep is essential when attending a 72-hour event
  • Coffee is your best friend when attending a 72-hour event
  • Staying positive and maintaining a smile, no matter what, is essential (you know the rest)
  • Even if you’re exhausted, portraying enthusiasm and energy about your brand or business is key
  • Always be prepared for the unexpected
  • Keep calm and keep speaking

Thanks for reading. Feel free to comment below or email me directly at! See you next time.

Nicole Pace, M.A. (Communications & Marketing Director)

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