|When you present at an academic conference, scope out your room before your session starts.|
Many of you have likely attended an academic conference during your graduate program, and several of you are probably planning on presenting at one in the near future. Conferences are of course major components of academic life but also common in research and/or knowledge-based fields. The unstoppable conference phenomenon naturally gives rise to plenty of guidelines for presenters and speculations on past, present, and future uses for conferences. For a recent overview of such concerns, see this short but informative 2013 article that ran in The Guardian. Conference etiquette, or seeming lack of it, is another topic of interest to conference goers, as noted in this 2015 piece that appeared in Chronicle Vitae featuring an interview with Anna Post, the great-great-granddaughter of famed etiquette guru Emily Post.
In contrast to such general-interest articles, this post offers some conferencing food for thought specifically targeted to you, the NIU thesis or dissertation writer. Photos and most anecdotes come from my experiences this past week presenting and attending the 54th Allerton English Articulation Conference in Monticello, Illinois.
In addition to obvious preparation musts such as practicing your planned speech (at least three times) and identifying sessions to attend before and after you present, double-check your travel arrangements with the goal of arriving at the venue at least an hour earlier than registration time.
|Ordered rows in the gardens at Allerton.|
Beware: routes to conference sites may not be so orderly.
|The small but adequate Butternut Room at Allerton.|
Room size naturally affects your speaking approach.
|Food line at Allerton.|
How did the presentation go? Were the follow-up discussions and later sessions constructive and helpful? Was it all worth it? You’ll have various answers to these questions immediately after your session and as the conference moves to a close. But you can expect a different set of answers in the days and months that follow. These later reflections will be most useful to you in the long run. Expect to reevaluate your studies, your stance on issues important in your field, and your ongoing thesis or dissertation project during and after your next academic conference. If you can, spend some time outside the venue during and after the event to foster these healthy reflections and to add to the overall experience. Allerton is especially rewarding in this regard. But no matter where your conference is held, there is always much to explore within but also beyond the center.
|Path to the Walled Garden at Allerton.|
Heed your long-view reflections after an academic conference.