I’ve just read Jo Alcock’s blog post about preparing for conferences and I must say, these points are excellent! Allow plenty of time for getting there and away (include explore your surroundings time), wear comfortable clothing, pack lightly and take business cards for networking (make your own if need be). I really like the DIY business card idea. I didn’t have any on me in Brisbane at the EBP Librarians workshop and it is my experience that events generally include a card swap. At Information Online, business cards are used for competition entries quite often, so that is another point to consider! 🙂 I’ve been to quite a lot of events since I attended my first conference in 2005 (document delivery in Canberra, held at the National Library of Australia). Cost is a consideration in deciding whether to attend an event, as well as the question of whether you can get time off work. I’ve paid for a few events myself and have taken annual leave in cases where there wasn’t a direct relation to my immediate job portfolio. Then I claim it on tax as a work expense. I will be doing that this year when I attend HTAi2012 in Bilbao, Spain. I’ve only ever applied for one grant to attend a conference – Information Online 2011. I had given up on getting news about attending so I was really surprised to get news that I had got the grant (it was way after the early bird discount and close to the end of the registration period, so I had some scrambling to do). The only thing I had to do is write about my attendance for the local health libraries association journal.
As for speaking at events, I haven’t done much of that yet. It isn’t really a matter of being afraid of speaking in front of a large crowd – at times when I am relaxed, I enjoy it! I hate it when I am nervous and how it effects my voice. My first speaking gig was in 2006 when I was invited to speak at the HTAi Information Resources Group workshop in Adelaide. Since then, I’ve done bits here and there at small events and large. This year I will be doing some speaking at HTAi2012 and I hope I won’t be too nervous as it will be in front of people I respect and admire. Way to go – start thinking about it and getting nerves already! Death by powerpoint is a useful saying to remember – and there is a reason for it! I’ll never forget a conference presentation I went to where the speaker’s head was down and she read what was on the powerpoint slide – the ppt was very text heavy. It was terrible and I’ve remembered it for a long time. And thank you Wikiman for the hilarious Stop breaking the rules of presentation ppt! I laughed heartily. For more tips on presenting effectively, visit Peter Dhu’s website. He writes about controlling anxiety, the power of the pause and structuring your speech.
I’m having a go at taking the lead in organising an event for the first time. It is the HTAi Information Resources Group workshop that will be held later this year in Spain as part of the HTAi2012 conference. The Chair-Elect, who is in Canada, is assisting me with this and we also have a local medical librarian on hand who will help us organise the annual dinner as well as other things. The had of the local organising committee is also assisting us with answering questions about the organisation of the conference – rooms, lunch provisions, etc etc. I’ve been involved in helping organising the 2 previous workshops when I was Chair-Elect of our group. Traditionally, we put out a call for workshop presenters, send the proposals to a group for evaluation, write up a workshop proposal and submit it to the local organising committee. This year though, a descriptive abstract was wanted which we didn’t have on hand, so that has been a valuable lesson learnt (include an abstract as part of the submission). It was accepted though, phew! I’m to join an international teleconference middle of this week (11.30pm my time) as Chairs of all groups are part of the interational scientific program committee. This sure has been an illuminating experience. I encourage all medical librarians to present in the medical speciality of their organisation (of course, there may be many) – it is a different experience than just attending library-related events.