23 Oct 2015

CDG joint seminar/AGM 2015 – Abstract to Audience: a guide to conference presentations - Report

Guest post by Siobhan McGuinness, Library and Records Management Intern at the Heritage Council

As a new professional I have always found the Career Development Group within the LAI wonderful when it comes to events. The venue was great and gave everyone a chance to meet and network over the day.

Thank you to the National Library of Ireland and to all the speakers on the day, in addition a huge round of applause and well done to CDG Group on a great day.

For those of you who didn’t attend the day, check out the CDG outline, and for those on Twitter the Storify is here.

To begin our day, the keynote speaker is the lovely Dr Sandra Collins (Director of the National Library of Ireland)

Sandra began her presentation by asking “What sort of Librarian are you”. In answering this question many of you will find your voice as a librarian. This voice may develop from being involved in many different jobs and projects. The more diverse the better.

We as librarian’s need to always be looking at this ever changing world and when it comes to finding your voice, stop and question, How will I contribute to this world and what will my voice say? Really ask yourself, “What is important to me”?

One way to contribute is to look at the social and cultural impact that your profession has. For instance, schools and communities around Ireland, look at the role of the library service within these two areas, librarians have a huge impact. In addition, look to the New Ireland that is evolving, look closely at the role you have as a librarian and the impact you can have on these groups. More importantly find the groups in your community that interest you and where your voice can give this group opportunity and help.

As Librarians we can and need to ask these important questions, Sandra encourages us to speak and present on a topic that interests you. We as professionals can figure out the answers to the questions that interest us, and as awesome people we should not be afraid to stand up and say “I know this”. Sandra goes on to give more encouragement by adding “you should have opinions don’t apologise for having them, believe in what you are saying and keep going”.

A truly inspirational presentation, Sandra gave me great encouragement to sit down and ask the tough questions.

The next three speakers where, Niamh O’Sullivan, Laura Connaughton, & Peter Dudley.

Niamh showed how public speaking can be the hardest thing to do as a professional. However you need to realise that it is scary and it does take a lot to face your fears. The best part is the more you do it the easier and more comfortable you will be.
Tips & Tricks was Niamh’s key message, below I have outlined a few:

  • Have Good Slides!
  • Use presentations as a route to publications.
  • Think catchy titles, like quotes from a movie.
  • Keep your message clear and simple
  • Use the 10/80/10 rule; 10% Intro, 80% Main, 10% Summary & Conclusion
  • Answer all the “W” questions: What, Why, Where, and don’t forget the HOW!
  • Check out this free eBook, “Persuasive Presentations
  • Check out this book: The Naked Presenter by Garr Reynold’s

Next to the stage is Laura Connaughton, here Laura spoke about her winning poster for A&SL conference 2015, and it was a super poster!

The advice Laura focuses on is to make sure the topic for your poster and content can stand alone. Be aware that this is the difference between a poster and a presentation, the poster will do all the talking for you.

When designing the poster have a logical pathway. In addition know that your choice of colour is very important, and be consistent.

The main aim of a poster presentation is to always ask for opinions, you need to always look at the full poster and you may have looked at it for the zillionth time and be so disjointed from the content. It is super important to get an honest opinion, look for constructive feedback, and learn from this.

The second last speaker is Peter Dudley, and his message is “DO NOT USE BULLET POINTS” end of story, well not really.

Peter is all about ambition and his presentation really is outstanding. Be smart about doing a presentation, don’t look for PowerPoint templates, look for the blank slide and be creative in your presentation. He maintains that standard bullet points are, (a) Generic, (b) Lifeless, (c) Ineffective. This is very true, bullet points force us to read the text and read it in a linear way. Why can’t I move the text around and keep it engaging? The best news is, you can do whatever you want.

Make images your best friend. Be smart when using the image, think of what you are talking about and find an image that will convey your message in a smart, effective manner. You are there to present, so present your material in a confident and dynamic way.

Last on the panel is Michelle Dalton, I have heard Michelle speak numerous of times and every presentation is superb. Today we are treated to a workshop, so we all have to sit up and get engaging.
Two activities were planned, here I will focus on the first activity as it gave a lot of food for thought.
Our first activity is to take a look at the handout above and decide what it is we like and dislike:
Everyone had similar results:
Dislikes included:
  • the template from PowerPoint, 
  • images used in the third slide, 
  • bullet points, 
Likes included:
  • image in the first slide,
  • font and use of text in the first slide,
  • question in the last slide, and how the change in font highlights the main part of the question
Michelle suggested that we focus on one main aim that you are trying to convey when giving a presentation, and this is tell a story. First you need to ask “What story do I want to tell”, and second “How will I tell it”.

As we had previously heard, images are super important, however Michelle suggests the use of “white space” can be crafted very well, and is something we often miss.

The biggest piece of advice I came away with from today’s event is to look at the font, you don’t need it to be default New Times Roman, at 12p, and justify. You are not in college there are no rules. It is your content, your topic and your work so make it all yours. Be brave and download new fonts, make the font super big when conveying an important piece, and use 100 slides with one point per slide, all of this is perfectly fine and acceptable.

The information, advice, tips and tricks given at this event is very important to anyone who wishes to be brave and put themselves out there. I for one will be setting challenges for myself next year, and I hope that I will channel all this wonderful energy into making my topic and presentations super awesome.

Thank you to the Libfocus team for the opportunity to write this post.

Slides of the event are available here


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