Tips for an ICANN Meeting First-Timer

By Malleana Ruffin, Social Media Manager at Public Interest Registry

Three times a year, a plethora of policymakers, lawyers, registries, registrars, organizations and domain industry experts gather for public meetings hosted by The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers – otherwise referred to as ICANN – and participate in discussions surrounding the Domain Name System (DNS,) respond to abusive use of the internet’s naming systems, introduce new initiatives or restructuring, talk through governance updates or discuss any other concerns brought forth. ICANN meetings help those present to hear about and discuss solutions for challenges regarding the internet, understand how the policies of the internet are created, and deeply learn how the internet works. Alongside generic top-level domain (gTLD) registries like Public Interest Registry and other domain industry members, ICANN works effortlessly to help keep the internet open, safe and secure for everyone.

For a first-timer, the heavily-packed ICANN Public Meeting schedule can seem quite overwhelming to maneuver through. We’ve chatted with some veteran members of our team who currently serve or previously served on ICANN board committees to collect some tips for you to consider and keep a mental note of when planning to attend.

  • Attend the opening ceremony. The host country sometimes sends a keynote speaker who will give you a sense of how that country views the internet and its importance on both a local and global scale. It also gives you a chance to casually network with people in the industry without any pressure.
  • Always wear your badge during conference hours, and don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation during a break.
    • The badge holder is a great place to discreetly keep your business cards for easy access in the event of a networking connection made.
  • Review the ICANN meeting schedule ahead of time – we recommend reviewing it and planning early.
  • The “Introductory / Outreach” track at the meeting are sessions specifically designed for people who are new to ICANN and the industry.
  • Casual dress code for ICANN meetings – although we like to go by the rule of, “Dress the way you’d like to be addressed.”
  • Familiarize yourself with ICANN acronyms. The community is in love with its acronyms, so it can be a challenge to keep up with certain conversations. This ICANN guide is a good place to start.
  • Keep it simple. You don’t have to do everything or fully understand everything that is happening on day one.
  • Expand your areas of interest. Don’t think, “I’m a finance person, so I’ll only go to related sessions.” Everything about ICANN is inter-connected, so take advantage of having it all available in one place and soak it up.
  • Anticipate that there will be inevitable schedule conflicts. ICANN meetings have grown considerably over the years, and there likely will be several thousand attendees. Fortunately, most of the sessions are recorded, so you can review anything missed later.
  • Q&A periods are usually built into main sessions. Sessions that are generally held in the main area of the event space are often composed to include question-and-answer time for members of groups to speak up about their opinions or concerns. There are 2 specific meetings in which public commentary is specifically invited, as well.
    • If you don’t necessarily want to hop on the microphone during a meeting, feel free to approach someone after a session and ask questions. Most people are very welcoming and encouraging of newcomers.
  • Say YES to sessions, events, coffee meetings, etc.If you are not sure if you should attend a “How it Works” session, just peek in and see what it’s all about.
    • No one will be offended if you do not stay for an entire session of any kind. Even if it’s a smaller session, it’s okay to step out if you have a conflict or if the content is not your cup of tea.
  • Talk to everyone. The beauty if ICANN is that while some of the sessions can be a bit staid, there are incredibly interesting people with a huge array of interests, expertise and goals at ICANN. It’s not all just industry folks.
    • ICANN is a great place to schedule meetings with registrars and registries for introductions and updates on business initiatives.
  • Attend the gala event and other ceremonies or receptions. These are great opportunities to meet people from diverse sides of the business and make connections.
  • Pre-register online for ICANN meetings on the website. It’s encouraged to do this earlier so that the event organizers can plan more efficiently.
    • Also, visit the booth of ICANN WIKI and register with them. This way you can register with your photo!
  • Pace yourself. The days are long, often starting with 7:30 a.m. breakfast meetings and extending well into the night or even into the next day. In fact, most of the “real” ICANN work and relationship building occurs after business hours.
    • Remember that even after the meetings are over, you’re “always on.” This means that other attendees may see and recognize you outside of the event space and associate you with the brand you represent. Keep that in mind when engaging in activities in and out of the conference space.
  • Social media is a great place to get and stay connected with those you meet during an ICANN meeting. In fact, there is an ICANN Social group on Facebook that you can request to join for information, after event happenings, and to meet with other like-minded individuals that will be present or have attended an ICANN meeting before.
    • Following ICANN’s social media and the respective hashtags is also something you may want to do in order to keep up with the happenings in real time from other attendees and ICANN itself.


With these tips at the top of your mind, you’re sure to feel more confident during your first of many ICANN Public Meetings! We love hearing from you, so if you would like to share your stories or add some things to think about when attending ICANN Meetings as a first timer, or have any questions, leave us a comment below or engage with us on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.