Presenting at your first conference

This year, I fulfilled one of my professional development goals – to present at my first conference. In fact, I presented three different things at the conference! A poster, a workshop and a last minute short talk to cover someone who had to cancel. From this experience, I wanted to share some advice for new librarians who also want to start presenting at conferences.

microphone-704255_1280Presenting at conferences is great professional development. You get to share your knowledge, develop your communication skills, network, and of course it looks great on your resume! So how do you get started, especially if you haven’t been a librarian for the past 20 years?  

Here’s some tips:

Start small:

Obviously you won’t be the keynote speaker at your first conference. Start with smaller types of presentations to get your foot in the door – you could do a poster, a lightning talk, or a group presentation with colleagues.

Go local:

There are a lot of conferences, you don’t have to start with the largest national conference for your professional organisation. My first ‘presentation’ was at a small local unconference – a loosely structured informal day where I had the opportunity to speak on the fly about work I was doing with youth programs. There are sometimes even conferences for new librarians that encourage first time presenters.

Take every opportunity:

Don’t be afraid to express your interest in presenting. Put it on your professional development plan, ask others if they know of anything you could join in on. Present at your employers events or meetings. When someone cancelled at the Australian Law Librarians conference, I made sure to seek out the conference organisers to volunteer to fill the spot – it was after all about blogging, a lucky coincidence for me.

Don’t assume you have nothing to share:

Being a new librarian, you may feel “what could I possibly have to share? I’m not an expert..” I thought this too at first, until I realised we have a lot to share. As new librarians we have a unique perspective, we can talk about new technologies, new ideas for change and our experiences in the industry. Librarians who have been in the industry for a long time are really interested to hear about this fresh perspective.

So brush up on your presentation skills, and start seeking out those opportunities! It may be a little nerve wracking to present, but it is a great feeling when you’ve done it.

Do you have any tips about presenting at conferences? Comment on the post, or share your ideas on Twitter or Facebook using #interlibnet.

Michelle De Aizpurua, ILN Content Officer.

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