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Reflections on presenting at the New Professional’s Conference

saddest photo ever - burst balloons after a party :(

Image courtesy of Flickr user Daniel Mohr

Well, the party’s over and we’re all back to real life – what a strange feeling! I’d been looking forward to (and getting increasingly nervous about) the New Professionals Conference for so long, it’s strange now to think of it in the past tense. Yesterday was such an amazing day, and it all passed in such a blur! I’m going to be writing a bit about the various talks over the next day or so (although I probably won’t do as detailed a write-up as I did last year – lots of people are already blogging away, so I don’t want to just duplicate their efforts). First though, I wanted to jot down a few thoughts about the experience of presenting. This is going to be shamelessly self-indulgent, so apologies in advance – feel free to leave now and come back when I’ve stopped talking about myself!

Delivering my talk was pretty nerve-racking, but I think I did ok. I thought I’d run through my talk far too quickly, but from looking back at the tweets I think I was pretty bang-on 20 minutes (helpfully, @bethanar tweeted when I started and when I finished my talk, so I can work out how long I took from that!). It was actually really hard to judge the time when I was speaking – especially because I didn’t notice the clock that was directly in my eyeline until I’d nearly finished! Glad I didn’t rush through it as fast as I thought I had, and also really glad that I didn’t go over time. When I was rehearsing, the shortest I managed to get my talk was 22 minutes (and by the way, many thanks to @daveyp for his helpful advice on how to cut my time down!). I tend to ramble when I’m nervous, so I guess I must have stayed pretty much on topic if I was within time.

Of course, part of the reason that I kept within my time limit might have been that I completely forgot several points I was going to make! Mostly these were little things, but there were two points that I really wanted to get across that I was kicking myself for forgetting. When I was talking about time and money being the biggest barriers to keeping up with CPD, I really wanted to emphasise that you don’t need to rely on an employer to pay for things for you. Depending on the limits of your own budget, sometimes you might need to put your hand in your own pocket to pay for training. I paid for my Masters course myself, and I’ve paid to go on courses that I thought would be useful, but that weren’t directly relevant to my work so I couldn’t even really ask for funding. I’m annoyed at myself for forgetting to say that, because someone actually came up to me after my talk and said that she thought I should have mentioned that point! Ah well, all good practice for next time :)

The other thing I forgot to say (although actually, I’m not 100% sure whether I said it or not, but I don’t think I did) was about including non-library publications in your reading, and looking for courses that weren’t run by CILIP or any other library body. It’s easy to become very inward-looking when all your CPD and networking is centred around libraries and librarians, but it’s really important to maintain your awareness of your user’s concerns and interests. I read several blogs and columns written by lawyers, which is really valuable for understanding where my users are coming from. Some of it goes over my head, but I think I pick up most of the salient points! I’m also trying at the moment to get involved with the in-house training that’s offered to the lawyers in my firm. I found out today that there’s a talk on e-disclosure at the firm this evening, which I would have loved to tag along to if I’d only known about it sooner! It came up in a staff meeting today, so we’ve asked to have the library staff added to the distribution list for CPD stuff.

Besides forgetting what I wanted to say, and my shaky hands meaning that I couldn’t have a drink of water without worrying that I was going to throw it over myself (really hadn’t anticipated that!), I think my talk went quite well. I’ve had some good feedback from people who were there, and Biddy Fisher said some really nice things about my slides. It’s really hard to judge how my talk went across, but people laughed in all the right places and applauded at the end, so I’m taking that as a good thing! I was a bit thrown because a couple of people walked out of the lecture theatre a few minutes into my talk, don’t really know what to make of that. I’m told that it looked like one of them was taken ill, which I’m willing to accept as an explanation :) Obviously I’m very sorry for anyone who was ill yesterday, but it would make me feel a bit better about it if that turned out to actually be the case. Obviously, fair enough if they just weren’t getting anything out of it so decided to leave – I don’t think anyone should be forced to sit through something they’re really not interested in out of politeness – but it’d be a bit of a confidence knock!

Anyway. Nerve-racking as it was, I really enjoyed doing my talk. I feel like I’ve learned a lot from it – as I mentioned, I’d never presented anything like this before, so certainly a good learning opportunity for me. I’ve got lots of practical things I know I can work on for the next presentation I do (which will be a joint presentation with thewikiman at the CILIP Yorkshire and Humberside Members Day in a few weeks – check it out!). More importantly, I’ve proved to myself that I can do this, and I now know that stage fright won’t actually kill me!

That’s it from self-indulgent navel-gazing from me (for now…). I’ll be writing more about the (amazing) presentations I saw and about the whole experience very soon.

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13 comments on “Reflections on presenting at the New Professional’s Conference

  1. Hi there,

    I didn’t get a chance to meet you yesterday; but just wanted to say that I thoroughly enjoyed your talk! In fact, even had you been glancing around, you would have just seen the top of my head… (I was scribbling away lots of notes!!!) Found your talk very interesting, and very useful! :)

    • That’s so great to hear, thank you! Really glad it was useful – it did cross my mind that maybe I’d pitched it wrong, and was just telling a room full of people stuff they already knew… Glad to hear you got something out of it! Sorry I didn’t get to meet you either – there were so many people I wanted to say hi to yesterday that I just never got the chance to :( Ah well, there’s always #npc2011!

  2. The people leaving the room could well have been helpers – we had to leave at certain points to prepare things (e.g. to set up for lunch) so it could well have just been that. If they did leave because it wasn’t interesting, more fool them! ;)

    Just to add to the positive responses, I really enjoyed your talk. A lot of what you said echoed my own experiences (after all, the only reason I was able to be there yesterday was by being cheeky and asking if I could help in return for a free place!), so you may well have seen me nodding away at various points, and I saw lots of others nodding too – always a good sign I think. Your slides were great too, and I think you did really well to get some humour in there.

    I mentioned this yesterday I know, but just to reiterate – your nerves really didn’t show from what I saw. You came across as confident and very knowledgeable about the subject (which I know you are!). Here’s to lots more speaking opportunities! :)

  3. I really do find Dave Pattern to be simply THE most helpful person on Twitter in an emergency. Really, his advice when I got a butter stain on my sofa (“Have you tried getting a jellyfish to wee on it?”) probably saved my marriage.

  4. Oh and Ned… Did the talc not work then?

  5. What Jo said – you were great, pitched well, really good slides and the nerves didn’t come across at all!

  6. I wasn’t at your talk but have enjoyed reading about your experiences about presenting, as I was feeling the very same before the BIALL conference! I managed to get one sip of water during the talk, but I too suffered from shaky hands and couldn’t get the top of the water bottle back on after!

    But onto what you said in your talk (or the part you said you forgot to say!) about paying for some things yourself, I totally agree with. I often pay for seminars myself which I don’t think are completely relevant enough for my organisation to pay for – I think its important you don’t rely 100% on your organisation for such things (and therefore put blame on them for non-attendance) and take control of your own CPD. Certainly for the inexpensive items, certainly not the BIALL conference!

    • I’ve just realised I’m signed in as FoodieNelly – might help for you to know its Anneli writing under this pseudonym!

      • Hi Anneli! Cheers for the comment. So many people have now said that I didn’t look nervous, and so many other people I’ve watched doing confident presentations have confessed to how nervous they really were – that’s all really reassuring! It’s good to have a reminder that actually, no one starts out being great at this, and you’ve usually come across better than you think you did. And for the record, you did not look at all nervous at BIALL – I was really impressed with your presentation :)

        And yes, being willing to pay your own way is so important – you can’t expect your employer to take responsibility for your development! Although, agree that I would probably draw the line at paying for the BIALL conference – good as it was, it is rather far out of my budget!

  7. Doesn’t look like you got my original comment… darn phone.

    It basically said something along the lines of:

    Yeah those walkers were helpers – I noticed their yellow badges. I thought it was a bit odd too that people got up to leave too until I realised.

    By being not so new to the profession anymore I found your presentation particularly useful, personally. It gave me some ideas about moving forward in my career and the types of activities I really should be getting more involved with.

    I didn’t notice these nerves of yours either. You took your time to go through your points and projected those clearly to those of us at the back. The good thing about writing up your experiences after is that you can re-emphasise those points and let us know more about the stuff you missed. So, self-indulgent or not it needed a good write up! Well done you.

  8. Oh my god, it didn’t even occur to me that they might have been helpers! Feel a bit silly now… Thanks Lex and Joeyanne for pointing that out :)

    And thanks to everyone for the positive comments. Little embarassed actually – I didn’t write this post just to fish for compliments, honest!

  9. [...] “Taking Charge of Your Continuing Professional Developing” – Laura Woods [...]

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