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Presenting at conference for the first time help!

(7 Posts)
T4taylor Mon 12-Feb-18 23:55:25

Hey everyone,
So as the title says I have had my proposal accepted to present at my first conference. I’m very pleased and excited but also nervous! I’ve only been lecturing for 18 months (previously worked in industry) and have only attended 1 conference before thus! First question, are you expected to pay like any delegate would?
Secondly, I am doing a 20 minute paper presentation (although they state this is not an actual paper and they just want my ppt slides), and it is on my MA research. I am due to complete and submit my dissertation in August so is it ok to discuss my initial findings part way through?
Finally do you have any general trick or tips? How was your first time?! confused

LRDtheFeministDragon Tue 13-Feb-18 11:58:40

Oh, you'll be fine! If you can lecture then a conference paper should be a walk in the park.

In my field, conference delegates all pay. Sometimes plenary speakers are exempt, but not usually anyone else. Sorry! There are sometimes bursaries if you're still a student or low-waged, though, so worth checking.

I think the whole point of conferences is to discuss work in progress, but it's obvious from what you say about industry that you're not in my field, so maybe if you say what the field is, someone else will be along who knows better?

Tips and tricks ... to be honest, what works for lecturing works for conferences. I'd err on the side of short, because one thing that people really do hate is an over-length presentation and they will love you for doing 17 minutes rather than 20. Don't hog the questions - try to be brief in response to things (you can always go and follow up in the breaks), and if the question has a very long answer, it can be better to say so directly and suggest doing that. If you don't know the answer, or you're completely floored by the question, that's totally fine too - 'that's really interesting and I must go away and think about it, thank you' is a good way to deflect and no one will think badly of you for it.

My first time was terrifying! grin It always is. I was re-writing the paper right up to the minutes before, which obviously I don't recommend. Looking back I was very, very nervous and not very authoritative. What annoyed me most was that someone at that conference, who was the a junior postdoc, actually nicked one of my findings and included it in a publication! It was a minor detail but it was mine. Fortunately a more senior colleague noticed and ticked him off about it, and he has subsequently acknowledged me in a later paper, which was nice - and I realise now, looking back, that he didn't mean anything bad by it, but at the time it was a real blow to my confidence.

I guess the moral of that story is to emphasise that you are planning to publish or submit this material, so that people in the audience who might be tempted to make use of it will know to look out for your final version.

KnitFastDieWarm Tue 13-Feb-18 12:04:09

Ooh it’s a great experience, I just gave my first paper in January and now I’m hooked!
If you have lecturing experience you’ll be fine. Stay relaxed, don’t talk too fast, and most importantly practice beforehand to make sure you’re within the time limit.

user1494149444 Tue 13-Feb-18 12:11:24

As above if you are comfortable with lecturing, this will be easy.
Also be careful about revealing too much, as things do get stolen in my experience. I once had a long train journey with a very established US scholar on the way back from a conference, and then found out she was jotting down a lot of things I told her about my research and they made their way into her new book without any credit to me.

TheRagingGirl Wed 14-Feb-18 08:32:11

First question, are you expected to pay like any delegate would?
Usually, yes. Generally (in my field in the Humanities anyway) only keynote speakers have their expenses paid.

Secondly, I am doing a 20 minute paper presentation (although they state this is not an actual paper and they just want my ppt slides), and it is on my MA research. I am due to complete and submit my dissertation in August so is it ok to discuss my initial findings part way through?

If you're confident about your part-way conclusions & argument.

The main main main thing is: DON'T GO OVER TIME. Even if you rehears & you're on 20 minutes. cut it back. It always takes longer giving a paper than in rehearsal. Aim to speak for 15-18 minutes, and you'll be comfortable in a 20 minute slot.

Going over time is the biggest mistake I see in people unused to giving academic conference papers. It's just plain rude, but even more, you're robbing yourself of the feedback from questions & discussions.

It's this feedback that is the thing one goes to conferences for - the debate, the discussion, other people's contribution and collaboration with you. That is priceless (as they say!)

I think the mistake comes from inexperienced research presenters wanting to tell me all about their process & minute detail of argument - I'm actually not that interested in those details. What I want are the ideas, the hypothesis, the conclusions, and the further significance of those conclusions.

In other words, cut to the chase - this is what's interesting to other people about your research.

So other tips: think of your audience. What's the hook of your research into the field? Cut to the chase about this.

Breathe. Take your time, although no long pauses. Look at us. Speak clearly and with a hearable rhythm and cadence. It helps to sit up straight, or stand up straight (depending on whether you're standing or sitting). Shoulders back, chest open - this all helps you to breathe, and this speak clearly & in a pleasant hearable rhythm. I don't mean volume - although that as well - but a rhythm of words and delivery which makes your sense intelligible. I use punctuation to help me with this. My conference paper texts have lots of dashes in them, to help me phrase & breathe.

T4taylor Wed 28-Mar-18 07:28:44

I would just like to say thank you for all of your comments and wish me luck as my presentation is today! I was quite fortunate it’s been scheduled on day two as it gave me time to network yesterday and tell people about it- including the keynote speaker! I’m on at 10:15- no pressure!

GeorgeTheHippo Wed 28-Mar-18 07:49:22

Good luck!

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