Novel Ideas : My First Conference
Y’all, I hit a grad school milestone last week.
I presented at my first conference.
You won’t be surprised to learn that I presented on something bookish!
The conference was a small, regional education conference, so it was an excellent “starter conference” for a graduate student learning the ropes of solo presenting her own work. Because I love banned and challenged books (and reading controversial literature), my presentation was on preparing for book challenges and avoiding self-censorship in fear of challenges.
Talking in front of my peers has always been tough for me, but I know I need to get over that and become a confident presenter. For this conference, I decided to practice my presentation five times. I usually practice presentations for class just once or twice. Well, kids, those extra run-throughs make a huge difference! I barely had to look at my notes. It was such a great feeling.
The best part of the day was getting to see the research presented by my classmates and colleagues. There were some presentations that were great role models for how I would like to present research in the future. There were also a few examples of what I should avoid doing. I always get so nervous during any question/answer sessions, but I was so impressed with how flawlessly everyone handled these. Apparently, at this level people pretty much know their stuff. They are becoming experts on a topic, so questions are just part of the game.
My own question and answer session also went well. I found the questions quite useful. I was able to confidently answer all of the questions, and each reminded me of what the average doctoral student doesn’t know about young adult literature. It’s hard for me to keep a balance between explaining too much and explaining too little because I often over or underestimate what people already know. Questions are good for knowing what to cover more explicitly in the future, and for thinking about what I might want to write about in the future.
So, in short, the part of the day that I thought would bring the most anxiety was actually the most useful! I think I’m ready to start planning out presentations at bigger conferences with some of the papers I’ll write this semester. I’m also in the early stages of planning my first article to send out to journals. School moves so quickly, so the goal is to publish and present as much as possible before I finish. I hoping this means I’m off to a good start!
Have you ever presented a conference? How was your first experience? If you haven’t, do you share similar fears about public speaking? What works for you?