At 4pm on Monday 15 August I was nervously writing thank you cards to the people who agreed to be on a panel I organised. This panel was for an event called Speak Up! and was jointly organised by ALIA ACT SNGG and ALIA NLS8. This blog post will cover key points I picked up on the night about presenting and some feedback I received that I can learn from for future events.

Speak Up Panel and organisers
Speak Up! panel and organisers

We wanted to provide a place where students and newgrads could learn about the conference process – from submitting a proposal to presenting. Sue Mckerracher (CEO, Australian Library and Information Association) kindly agreed to moderator the evening and panel members included:

  1. Roxanne Missingham (University Librarian ANU)
  2. Tamara Osicka (Archivist APH)
  3. Kate Ross (Digital Skills Trainer NLA)
  4. Sam Spencer (Library Innovations Manager APH)
  5. Monika Szunejko (ALIA Board Director and Director Libraries Australia NLA)
  6. Christian West (Deputy Manager Library Services UC)

We discussed what a good conference proposal looks like and Roxanne suggested we make it a teaser, but interesting enough to sustain at least a 20 minute conversation.  Sam and Monika also said that the title should receive a lot of thought. Make it no more than eight words and make it attention grabbing, because on a program the title is how attendees decide to see you… or not. Lastly, make it clear what category or conference theme your proposal fits under. If you clearly state this in your proposal, you have done half of the conference committees work for them.

Then we moved onto preparing for the conference presentation. Kate made a great suggestion, she urged us to make a list of people we would be most scared to present in front of and ask them if we could practice on them. I really liked this suggestion because, you can kill your nerves by practising on people you look up to, build up your confidence and network all at the same time! Christian told us to know what nervousness feels like for us and prepare for that. For example, I know I get really jittery like I’ve eaten too many sweets before I do any public speaking. So to prepare I should start drinking a cup of chamomile tea or do some deep breathing exercises to calm myself before I get up on stage.

So you submitted your proposal, got accepted, and now its presentation day. Here are a few tips I learned to help you get it right. Tamara reminded us we never look as nervous as we feel, so take heart in that! Monkia’s great rule of thumb for presentations is to have no more than 10 slides, talk for no longer than 20 minutes and use size 30 font. Lastly, a just in case, always have a print out of your slides.

Overall the night was a success but I’ve had some honest feedback since then that I believe I can use to produce better events in future. After the event I was told that six people were probably too many for my panel, and in hindsight I agree. So then this becomes a lesson in time management and learning how to kindly reject a ‘yes’ response if you already have what you need.  I have also realised that two weeks is not enough time to really advertise an event. It is making me think that when each ALIA student and newgrad group is thinking of an event to host, part of that planning should be include at least a month of advertising before show time.

Well… till next time!
DFTBA (Don’t Forget to be Awesome).

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