I’m sitting in my hotel room at the near end of the i3 conference for 2017 reflecting on the processes of conferencing I have gone through over the last two weeks. This post, however, will be posted a few days after as our hotel Wifi is broken and I still have one more conference morning to go…
As you were aware from my last blog post, I attended the Edinburgh Napier University conference, I presented a poster on my secondary data analysis (initial part of my PhD). My poster explained why I was going the analysis, data obtained, analysis and most importantly the results and it was designed so that other delegates could look at the poster then ask me questions about it. The poster itself (I feel) was designed fairly well as I knew it needed to reflect the serious nature of my analysis and results. You can see a copy of my poster here where I have uploaded it onto my slideshare account and you can see for yourself what it is.
I was asked mainly questions about the purpose of doing the analysis and also what types of innovation were concerned. I explained that the poster only reported part A of my data analysis as the next part is something my supervisors and I are hoping to publish so I am unable to publish those results in detail. I was also asked statistical questions about the analysis and what it all meant I explained why I used a One-Way ANOVA and also why I grouped my counties, and the conversation slowly turned to how to perform certain analysis rather than discussing my poster itself.
My second conference event(s) were iDocQ2017 and also i3. For iDocQ I delivered my one minute madness presentation where I was fairly nervous to do so considering I had not prepared the text in advance. I think this went fairly well but I am aware that if I do not prepare for these things I do not do well and I get very nervous, so that’s why I prepared very much for my second contribution to the conference at i3 2017 – my international full paper presentation.
The purpose of my paper presentation was to introduce and justify the use of my theoretical framework for my own doctoral study (with the awkward moment when I told my supervisors about this), and justify this in terms of its use in the information science domain. As you can see from slide 2 of my presentation, I
discussed the value of researching workplace learning and innovative work behaviours as well as talking about the theoretical framework and its use inside and external to the information science domain. My slides give a small flavour of what I intended to talk about and tell my audience what to expect. As part of this, I was also able to report some preliminary secondary data analysis results (or mini results). The results were an extension of my poster from the university conference and explained this in more detail. I was able to explore my data sources, variable justification and choice of analyses before making my point on the factors which I found to influence national innovation across Europe.
Overall, my presentation was attended by a few well-known academics in the field, some who I had met and some who I had not. I was pleased the audience was not massive but at the same time I was pleased to see some friendly faces so that I felt a sense of relief. I was second in the queue to present which meant I had to listen to another 45 minute presentation before mine. I admitted to the presenters (later on) that I had not heard a word of their talk as I was going through my presentation in my head, something they both said they understood completely. For some random reason, I did not feel a sense of sickening nerves during this time and I am not sure why. I was very nervous on the morning of my presentation but managed to eat breakfast (at the advice of a fellow PhD student) which seemed to calm me down a tad. I had to wait a few hours after than before I did my presentation as it was an afternoon session. I got the unfortunate time of presenting about 4.30pm which meant it was late in the day when everyone would be tired. However, it appeared that this did not influence my nerves for the presentation as I (somehow!) calmed down majorly whilst sitting in the room and was only hit with a few nerve as I loaded my slides on the screen. It turns out that I was not as nervous as everything else I had presented and this meant I was able to focus on the paper I was presenting. I felt more at ease at about slide 14 when I made a joke about my supervision
meetings with my supervisors when we talked about my theoretical framework. It made me feel at ease knowing I took my supervisors absolute silence and turned it around to be completely all my fault (it was!) but this helped the audience understand the story of how my theoretical framework came to be. It was nice having my supervisors in the room with me to help support me with that point. Had I not had that moment of absolute silence, my theoretical framework would not have happened and I would not have made efforts to justify the use of it in my research. My supervisors do a really good job at supervising me, calming
me down and supporting me all of the way through crappy times and praising me for the stuff I am unable to see *shout out to team Lyndsey*.
It is at this point that I would like to share some quick advice to those who are worried about presenting. For me, these things worked and these are pieces of advice I got for others:
- Before you do anything, tell your supervisor(s) you are nervous. They know you well enough by this time to know if you are going to succeed or fail so they can support you in every way they can to help you do your best. I did, and she appeared to have a lot of faith in my abilities compared to my own opinions – it appears she knows me quite well (I’ll never admit that my supervisor was right..!). My supervisor supported me from day 1 and through the crap of the dry-run session as she knew I was dreading this a lot. It turns out that I had support all of the way through and it was this support that helped me do my best at something I hated from the start.
- Have some breakfast / lunch / a snack beforehand as skipping this can often mimic the feelings of anxiety when it is just hunger;
- If you mess up, so what? Ohers do not know what you are planning to say so they won’t know if you make a mistake or miss something out;
- Even the best academics in the field make mistakes and get nervous about presenting;
- Take time beforehand to tell yourself you can do it;
- Try and seek the room beforehand so you can see where you will be standing and whether you can see your slides;
- Take a few deep breaths, and drink plenty of water beforehand to stop getting dehydrated as this can increase the nervous feeling and anxiety;
- When you go up to present, look directly at everyone in the audience as you are preparing to present. For me, this heled me see who was there and eliminated the shock factor half way through;
- On the more practical side of things, try and learn your presentation with little notes. This way, you don’t rely on notes in your presentation and can try to make eye contact with the audience;
- That taken into account, prepare your slides early. This gives you enough time to run through the talk and slides far in advance so that if you are feeling nervous you can work on the nerves nearer the time and not finishing your gig;
- On the above note, my supervisors always recommends having a policy of not leaving for the conference without having your slides finished. I would always take this advice given my onset of nerves and I could not imagine having to prepare them in the conference week;
- Try and enjoy the experience. This might sound hard and a bit obscure for someone who does not like presenting, but it’s true. I seemed to enjoy the process more than dreading it (on the day) as I knew my abstract had been accepted so my research was welcome by the conference academics.
I have to be honest and say I did enjoy the experience overall and did panic more during preparation than actual delivery which is not like me at all. I particularly enjoyed being challenged by the questions I got asked by the academics in the room as I knew they had
listened to what I was saying by the type of things I got asked. I was asked to explain my own definition of learning I am using in my research which stumped me a bit. I have a definition of workplace learning but not learning itself but I feel I handled that question okay given I have not used this concept yet. I was also asked about the element of risk in innovation, something prominent in the literature and something coming out of my interview data already. I explained that I am considering this as part of my interview process and that I could only comment fully when my case studies have been done, something the individual questioning me seemed to take with a pinch of salt (although I did acknowledge the importance of the comment!). I was also asked about my interpretation of failure in learning as we all know failure is important. As with the previous questions, this is part of my interview schedule so I could only comment my own views and opinions on this right now and can comment when my interviews are done and analysed. I was also asked about context and how this influence my PhD and quite happily I explained that I was exploring what specific elements of context influenced the relationship between workplace learning and innovative work behaviours and this was something to come. For this comment, however, I acknowledged that context and the environment is important and that context can influence learning itself regardless of other things involved. This is reflected in my theoretical framework and I was able to explain how I am exploring this as a specific research question.
I was particularly happy with the questions I got asked as I have finally been welcomed into the information science community with my research. You may be aware that I did not feel so at home at the ISIC conference in September as I could not see the value of my work in the information science domain at that point in time. Not many people asked me about my research overall and I did feel a bit left out seeing everyone else talk about their research as I was only a year into my PhD. The conference itself was really good and interesting (and I’d definitely go back again!). The people I met there and the organisers of ISIC were lovely too but the lack of interest in my research topic did dishearten me a bit and I did not feel like my research topic fitted in at all (even though the acceptance meant it did in terms of the conference themes). I returned home from ISIC with a plan in place (See here: https://lyndseyjenkins.org/2016/09/27/participation-in-the-isic-conference/) to make my research (hopefully) fit into the domain and ground it in Information Science which meant I had to beef it up a bit more. I think this may have worked…
This time at i3 it was different as my presentation even stimulated conversations outside of my talk. This focused on the use of other theories of my theory was not there, and also my use of quantitative data analysis to make my points.
This then set me up for a good conference week and I was able to see a few paper presentation that took my eye. I loved the presentation by Dr Theresa Anderson who looked at collective and collaborative information seeking in learning as this has valuable links with my own PhD. I also enjoyed the talk by Bo Gerner Neilson who explained about context in research and how context can be categorised. His presentation got me thinking about my own definition of context and I even got my very own citation at the end of his talk too. I also enjoyed the talk by Dr Alison Pickard and Dr Geoff Walton when they explored information discernment as it incorporated researchers from multiple domains in one project and used a combination of research methods for this paper.
You can see my twitter feed for information on other talks I attended as I tended to tweet about these too. I found it helpful to tweet about events and then explore other twitter feeds to see interpretations of the talks I attended and discussions that took part in others.
Overall, I think my first i3 experience has been one of great success. I have been able to present my first full paper to an international audience (kindly documented on twitter by Prof Hazel Hall) and I was able to do this fairy well. I have enjoyed talking about my work and stimulating conversations about what I am doing, both in my presentation and during the coffee breaks too! I have also been able to talk to academics who I have never met before and academics I already have. I have been able to say hi and explain who I am and talk in depth about what we do. I have been able to socialise with people who I have never met before at the reception, conference dinner and countless coffee breaks and help me feel more at home with my research in the information science field now. I think a huge thank you should go to the i3 organisers (organising committee) and all of the people who made efforts to make this happen. You can see the long list of names on the i3 website above.
If you want to know more about the other papers presented by my research group you can see a preview here by Hazel Hall. She has included the abstracts and slides of each presenter in her blog post written as a preview of i3 2017.
And on a more personal note I noticed that…
There are a fair few ginger haired information science academics in our field (woo-hoo)* and even better that a nice handful of delegates came from where I do and speak with my accent too**. So thumbs up to the person who (before I attended this conference) told me that my accent needed to changed and how the way speak is not right. Thumbs up because I believe you were wrong, and it appears quite significantly that you were very wrong too! 🙂
*disclaimer – nobody has ever told me that ginger haired people cannot succeed in a PhD / academia or given me grief for my hair colour in academia.
** ginger-haired North East England folk rock (and everyone else does too!).