Conference Preparation

Having just returned from a conference, and ferociously updating my paper for the next conference, I laughed to read the title Conference Presentations: Speed Dating for Academics. JoVanEvery.CA made my day, just with the title!

What can you do in 15 minutes?

Your goal is to meet the people in the room who you would like to have a longer conversation with.

There are plenty of opportunities to have that longer conversation.

The key to the presentation is to talk for 15 minutes on the parts of your research that are most interesting. Or, that you’d most like feedback on. Or, that most surprised you.

And to ask questions of the audience. What would you like to hear from the knowledgeable people in the room?

JoVanEvery.CA has a great link on Your Conference Paper & How You Present It.

The most badly needed point: “You can’t possibly just read the [draft for a journal article] paper in the time allowed. And even if you could, it would be dull, dull, dull. What works in writing, especially formal academic writing, does not work orally.

A related post, on self-organizing at a conference says:

Present your material in a way that invites discussion and debate. Talk about your most interesting findings.

Worry less about impressing the big players and more about identifying potential collaborators.

Make it easy for people you’d like to work with to come up and talk to you at the end of the session.

A third post is about learning how to use images for/in/with presentations:

Images help articulate the ideas

Once I’d shifted to browsing images early in the process, I started to notice that the images helped me articulate the ideas I wanted to convey. Sometimes I did use representational images. The difference is that I found the image first.

For example, seeing an image of a chocolate box while I was working on a presentation about career options made my mind go “bing”. The image inspired a metaphor that proved crucial to an important section of the presentation.

In a discussion of whether or not conference papers “count,” JOVE had this to say:

in most formal assessments of your research achievements, conference papers don’t seem to count for anything. They are considered “low impact”.

This is largely because the audience for a conference presentation is small. The presentation is likely to be short. And the material is usually work in progress, nowhere near as polished as a full journal article or scholarly monograph.

While conference papers can circulate widely through informal networks, usually the impact on the advancement of knowledge is small.

THIS is why I think live blogging can be such an advantage. Bloggers can reach a wider audience, longer, than a conference paper alone.

There is a lot of other good stuff at the website, not all on conferences. I highly recommend it for an evening’s reading or with a permanent place on your blog roll.

2 thoughts on “Conference Preparation”

  1. I also have a problem with the idea that the “audience” for your conference presentation is small and therefore unimportant. Who is the audience for most journal essays? Isn’t the average something like 3 people, and that’s including all of those essays where everyone reads it?

    There is something really backwards about how we understand and evaluate our “research productivity.”

    Having said that, I’m currently trying to pull together a 20 minutes presentation in French from 30+ pages of my dissertation (in English). I hope they have wi-fi at the airport!

  2. I do think that conference presentations reach more people than many journal articles. Having said that, there are some journal articles that reach thousands. AND conference presentations are ephemeral while journal articles continue to be available.

    I will say, also, that my new tt position counts conference presentations at almost the same level as journal articles. You can get tenure based solely on conference presentations; you just need a few more of them.

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