Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Pre-Conference Jitters

Do you ever get that "college exam" feeling before a conference? Like, whatever you do, no matter how much time you devote to polishing slides and verbage, you're never going to feel 100 percent prepared?

Maybe you can liken the pre-conference anxiety to a blind date: you're presenting yourself in front of a bunch of people you probably don't know (but should!), revealing your deepest, more precious best practices for all the world to judge and comment on. I know tomorrow, as I take the 5-hour train ride down to Charlottesville, I'll be nervously twiddling my thumbs, wondering, "Will they like me?"

If you're like me, presenting--especially new, untested material--can be sort of nerve-wracking. You've probably been tweaking the flow, wondering where to insert time for audience questions and feedback, and you'll most definitely be staying up a little too late the night before and getting up really early the day of your presentation to make some overhauls. Maybe you're still working on putting your information together, and wondering to yourself: "Is my topic any good? How am I going to fill an entire hour with useful information?"

Well, I'm here to tell you: you're not alone! My colleagues and I have been combing through our presentation for the last few weeks. Finding quality time to devote to preparing has been challenging, since we just started a new term (we're a quarter school) and our attentions are seemingly divided in a million different directions. When you're adjusting schedules, meeting with students on probation, and fielding hundreds of different questions and concerns, time suddenly starts working against you, especially when you're trying to create a whole new presentation from scratch. We're still making some adjustments, with probably a few more to come before our presentation on Friday, and perhaps you find yourself in the same situation.

We can commiserate...erm, I mean, relate! Part of the reason we're all getting together for this conference is to share ideas, find better ways to tackle our ever-increasing arena of responsibilities. The fact that you may have a few dozen other things to do besides working on your presentation is exactly why you're presenting, and why people will attend your presentation. The Big Idea here, really, is: How do we do more and be better with the resources we have? Your input is valuable, as an advising professional and as a presenter--we want to hear your ideas! Even if you may not feel confident in your presentation, believe me--your ideas, your best practices, your honest concerns, are what are most important. As long as those can be communicated, we can have a productive discourse that everybody can benefit from.

So if you're nervous about your presentation, if you're fretting about this bullet point or that handout, or maybe you just feel like you don't have enough time to get everything done, I just want to say--we're there with you, we're in the same boat, and we'll be there to learn new ideas and discuss innovations with you in Charlottesville!

1 comment:

  1. I just want to say that I have enjoyed this blog. I'm not able to attend the Conference this week, but I value the updates and am looking forward to the stream sessions. I think this is a great idea and hope this continues for next year.

    Rhonda Stokes
    University of Baltimore