In Part One of this Thing I focused on attending. In Part Two I’m focusing on speaking.
I’ve been given the opportunity to speak at a few events (listed at the bottom here) – as you can see, there’s a real combination of public speaking at protests and campaign events like Read-Ins, panel discussions for the Office for National Statistics and Voice of the Listener and Viewer, AGMs, and guest lectures and workshops at universities. I’m by no means an expert and have a lot of learning to do, but I enjoy sharing what I’m doing, and can genuinely say it’s because I care about what I’m doing and think it’s something valuable. Hopefully others can learn from my experiences, use what I say as a starting point and do something themselves to contribute to protecting and promoting the library and information profession.
When I start my PhD I hope to present at conferences and discuss my research, because again, I’ll be researching something I genuinely care about and think has an important role to play in the future of public libraries and the democratic system. I’ve already written a paper proposal for the January 2012 BOBCATSSS conference in Amsterdam (deadline is 1st October so there’s still time for others to submit!) and hope the panel find my proposal interesting and relevant enough to accept it! I’ve also applied to speak at things like the CILIP Career Development Group New Professionals Conference (what a gobful!) and although my application was unsuccessful, I was happy that Voices for the Library were given the opportunity to share our activism experience and skills in a workshop at the event, which I think was ultimately a more effective format for the content. If the knowledge you have to share is interesting and relevant enough, I think there are often opportunities for you to get it out there another way. Which leads me to the metaphor of the door:
When one door closes another opens. Or, when one door opens, another opens!
Ned wrote a great post about presenting opportunities at library events and how to get them, so I won’t repeat what he said, but will echo one of his key points: If you get your name out there by responding to calls for papers, even if you’re not successful, people will be aware that you’re keen to present and have something to talk about. They may then recommend you to someone else or keep you in mind for another time.
Once you’ve spoken at a couple of things and not completely screwed up, word seems to get out that you might be suitable for other events. All of the speaking gigs I’ve done so far have been as a result of someone asking me if I’d do it, rather than the other way round. I guess that’s saved me the effort of applying, but it does mean I have to work out exactly what they want and what their event is about, and how my ‘area’ fits into that. The plus side of that, though, is that it’s helped me build interdisciplinary links that I probably wouldn’t have done otherwise, through people I’ve met at events and chatting to them afterwards about the relevance of the library and information profession to the different sectors we can be found it, and to wider society. It’s amazing what opportunities can crop up from talking to people – loads of people are interested in libraries, it turns out! For example, although I had to turn down the opportunity in the end because I just didn’t have the time to do all the background research for it, I was asked if I’d present a paper about the politics of library stock management for a Politics and International Studies conference on insurgency, development, and world order in the 21st century!
I’ve recently adopted a standard kind of format for the presentations I give where slides are required. I try to avoid words where at all possible and just use images on slides as a memory aid for me, something to stick in the audience’s mind and keep them entertained! When I do use words I roughly stick by the advice in this post, though rules are there to be broken etc. I didn’t know there was a way to embed fonts in Powerpoint so I’ll most definitely be using that from now on! Previously I’ve converted Powerpoints into pdf and then uploaded them to Slideshare to try and get round the potential problem, or just stuck to a font I know is fairly universal. Boring fonts no more!