My first conference experience
Having benefitted so much from all your posts on experiences of various kinds, I thought I should share one of my own. A couple of weeks ago I went to a conference in Poland entitled ‘Classroom-oriented research: reconciling theory and practice’. My main reason for going was not the great line up of plenary speakers, or the chance to visit a country I’ve never been to (although they were important), but to confront my fears. I hate giving presentations and yet I know it comes with the territory when you’re doing a PhD. So I reasoned that if I went to Poland it would not only give me a chance to practise but also, if I gave a rubbish presentation it wouldn’t matter too much as I don’t know anyone and they don’t know me!
The presentation was based on the first chapter of my MA dissertation and was entitled ‘From Action Research to Exploratory Practice: a search for a ‘sense of plausibility’. It was very personal and maybe that made it easier in a way as I was telling my own story. I was still very nervous, but fortunately I was on the first day, so that meant I got it out of the way and could enjoy the rest of the conference. Being on the first day also meant meeting people who were interested in similar things early on which was very helpful.
It was a small, unthreatening and friendly conference, so it was a great place to start. A lot of us were staying in the same hotel and we all ate lunch and evening meals together, so there were lots of opportunities to get to know each other and chat about life – and our research interests. The Polish were fantastic – very hospitable and welcoming and the plenary speakers went to a lot of the parallel sessions and gave helpful feedback. I hadn’t expected them to be so involved and approachable, so that was an added bonus.
All in all, it was a very positive experience. I’m still scared, but at least the first one is done and dusted!