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Thing 15: Attending, organising and presenting at events

This post is part of 23 Things for Professional Development.

I am a big fan of this Thing – I’ve done a lot of attending events, a small amount of speaking at them and a tiny amount of organising – and I’d love to do more of all three!

Attending

My favourite of the three sub-Things! I love going along to events in the library world – not only for learning stuff, but also for a chance to get to know other library-type-people, make new contacts and catch up with people I already know. I have really noticed the difference since I moved to Yorkshire from London – its true, there is much more going on in London than elsewhere. I am trying to change that though, so watch this space…

As Katie points out in the CPD23 post for this Thing, money can be a sticking point when it comes to finding events to attend. Fortunately, I’ve found that most events local to me now tend to be either free or cheap enough that I don’t mind paying for them myself! There are also sponsorships available for things like conferences too, which I’ve always made good use of – for example, I attended the SLA conference in the US this summer on a travel grant from the SLA Legal Division, and I’m currently looking into sponsorship options for Online this year.

Speaking

This is something I’ve done a little of, and even though it scares the living daylights out of me it is something I enjoy. I’m finding I enjoy it more, and it scares me less, every time I do it too – which was really the idea, the first time I volunteered to speak at an event.

I know public speaking is something an awful lot of people struggle with. My philosophy on it is this: yes, it scares me, and I’m not that good at it yet, but I’m very unlikely to get through my entire working life without ever having to stand up and speak in front of people. I would rather practice speaking in public, make my mistakes and learn from them, and gradually get better at it and less scared, in situations I have volunteered for and thus have some control over; rather than suddenly have to do some kind of presentation at work or in a job interview, without having spent that time getting more comfortable with it. Besides, part of me just hates being scared of things. Stepping up and doing things you are scared of gives you control over those fears, and helps you deal with them. I know that sounds like psychobabble, but I think it’s true. Just my opinion though – I know not everyone feels that way about their phobias!

I agree with the points made in the CPD23 post about how speaking at professional events benefits you: you raise your profile and demonstrate professional involvement. I would also add that planning and delivering a presentation is a good way to formalise your ideas. I often find that the best way, for me, to learn about something is to try to explain it to someone else. When I’ve given presentations, its forced me to look deeper into a topic and ultimately helped me learn more about it.

Organising

This is something I’m very new at indeed! I helped organise an SLA Europe event in Manchester a few months ago, and I’ve organised a couple of pub-based meetups for LISNPN, but that’s the extent of it really. I am planning on organising more events for SLA Europe in Leeds – as I said, watch this space 🙂

My main reason for wanting to do this is that I agree with everyone who complains that not enough events are held outside London, and I firmly believe that if you don’t like a situation, you should do something to change it. So far, it seems quite hard work to get something off the ground, but I think once things start progressing it will (hopefully!) get easier. I will of course bog about my experience if/when I do manage to get something organised 🙂

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