presenting at Conference can be this easy!

Presenting at Conference can be this easy!

So you submitted an abstract

Then your abstract was accepted – HUZZAHH!!!

Your session is listed in the Conference Programme

And you’ve booked your flights and accommodation in Christchurch.

But the last few nights have been horrible.  You’ve tossed and turned, driven away your partner, counted all of the rivots in the ceiling, and sweated through your favourite pyjamas.

You tried to attend a Conference Presentation Session but they were always the same night as your Star Trek marathons, or the local “stitch and bitch”, and it was just too dark or too hot to get off the couch… 

Now EEEEKKK!!! Conference is only a few days away.

What will you say?  How will you say it?

What if the delegates all get bored to sleep by your powerpoint?

Before you find yourself rocking under the table, here’s something that may help.

Moira Fraser and Paddy Plunket ran a series of workshops during May that focused on how to deliver great presentations.  Their top tips are:

  • Always focus on telling your audience something that will be important or interesting to them. 
  • Start by telling your audience WHY you think what you have to say will be  important or interesting to them.  This is a useful statement to work out in advance because it helps you stay focussed on your “value proposition”.  Audience members that know why a presentation is useful will pay attention to it differently and remember it better. An example of this kind of statement is “I hope that by the end of my presentation you will have a good understanding of some of the things to do, and some of the things to avoid, when starting up a new service for elderly users”, or “this will give you a framework for designing an information literacy programme in any kind of library or information service”.
  • Audiences remember better the more involved they are in the presentation.  In the hierarchy of involvement listening is near the bottom!  Quizzes, practical exercises and discussions require the kind of involvement that helps people to remember.
  • Your voice and your body are the most important and sophisticated delivery technology available to you.  Work on delivering your presentation in a confident and engaging tone and with strong body language.

Aoraki held a session in April during which Sally Thompson and Aurelia Arona (amongst others) spoke generally about doing a presentation and what to put on your powerpoint.  Their powerpoints are available online on the Conference Slideshare and contain many good ideas. 

But if you’re still chewing on your computer keyboard, there may still be time to register for the LIANZA Ikaroa presentation skills session.  It’s being held next Tuesday (29 September) at Massey University.  See their page on the LIANZA website for more information and to register online.

If all else fails, don’t forget, the delegates are interested in hearing what you have to say, and they are not there to give you a hard time.  They will forgive you your stumbles, and the odd powerpoint slide.  And there’s always light at the end of the gin bottle…

Do you have any other good ideas?  Post them here and we can share them.

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Today’s post comes from Elizabeth Whyte of CPIT library who is involved with “a session with a difference” at this year’s conference.  Here she lets folks know a little more about what’s in store…

Still a little unsure about what to make of the ‘What Would You Do? – Doing More with Less’ unconference/Pecha Kucha session? Here are a few tidbits of info that might give you the confidence to jump up and present your own creative solutions, ideas, or even pose questions to your audience of participants.

Dan Pink from Wired magazine wrote a short and snappy description about Pecha Kucha and, to illustrate, has had a go at creating and presenting on a topic close to his heart: signs.

You might want to check out the official Pecha Kucha Night site to find a bit about the origins of Pecha Kucha and to get a flavour of what happens at these worldwide events. Those of you lucky enough to be in or near Christchurch or Dunedin will have the chance to experience Pecha Kucha firsthand on September 16th when both cities are hosting a Night.  As you’ll see from the site, they are popping up all over New Zealand!

New Zealand Open Government recently held a Barcamp which they described as an “alternative, participant-driven event “.  Some of you might have attended or heard about others that did.

How do these sessions relate to libraries in particular? Check out Walt Crawford’s wiki of a variety of library-associated unconferences and barcamps held over the past year or two. They should give you a good idea of how these types of sessions have been adapted and used in a library environment.

Our session is ‘in the spirit’ of these sorts of events and will therefore borrow elements from right across all of them. The key thing to remember is that the topics and how they are presented is up to you. Start the conversation here; post your questions and ideas in the comments to get the ball rolling.
Most importantly: Have Fun!

Also, don’t forget Deborah Fitchett’s  ‘Getting People On-side: making allies to support your innovation’ . It promises to be another interactive participant-based session in a similar vein. It’s on in the morning so you could almost have an entire day of un-conferenc-ing !

Paul Sutherland: paul.sutherland@ccc.govt.nz ; Elizabeth Whyte: whytee@cpit.ac.nz

So,  getting your head around the complexities of conference?  Whether to go, where to stay, who will I know, what if I pick a session and it is all wrong, is presenting a paper the challenge I am seeking right now?  Well, here is something else to get your head around

The UNCONFERENCE…there is going to be one at this year so here is a taster of what you might expect, or not, such is the nature of the unconference.

After trying to come up with an understandable description myself I wandered into Wikipedia and found what I think is a very accessible explanation.

‘An unconference is a facilitated, participant-driven conference centred around a theme or purpose. The term “unconference” has been applied, or self-applied, to a wide range of gatherings that try to avoid one or more aspects of a conventional conference, such as high fees and sponsored presentations. ‘  So, according to this description it looks like we are aiming for an ‘unconference’ style session at our conventional conference.

Chatting to Elizabeth from CPIT library who attended the unconference conference session in 2008, shed some light on what it is all about.  Kathryn Greenhill and Constance Wiebrand from Australia ran an unconference session  enthusing the participants through energetic and personable facilitation plus their wealth of  experience.  The unconference makes real, the fundamental law of conventional conference – ‘The sum of the expertise of the people in the audience is greater than the sum of the expertise of the people on stage’and allows everyone to have a say, share ideas and generally get involved.

The four principles of ‘unconferencing’ (if there is such a word) are

  • Whoever turns up are the right people
  • Whatever happens is the only thing that could have happened
  • Whenever it starts is the right time
  • When its over its over

There are lots of ways to run or facilitate a session using a variety of formats like

  • Appreciative Inquiry- the positive approach using ‘Discover, Dream, Design and Destiny/Deliver’ to focus on what works rather than finding problems and trying to fix them.
  • The BarCamp – open participatory workshops that have content provided purely by the participants.  Basically, bring along a pet subject, discussion or problem you want to talk about and away you go.
  • Knowledge Cafe – again a workshop which hopes to provide an open and creative place where collective knowledge, ideas sharing and insight of a subject or issue are provided by the participants.

Hopefully this has given you some idea of what you might expect from an unconference session.    I know a lot of people love the ‘talking to others’ aspect of conference so this could be the thing you are looking for, worth a try I think.   I have seen the outcome of such sessions and it looks like the kind of things librarians will be into in a big way – layers of post-its, whiteboard scribblings and enthusiasm captured in one place in one time, or not.  What will be will be.