Friday 9 May 2014

How to conference

Der Tag!  The conference which I volunteered to host at The Institute last November is happening today. I am, as you may guess, all excited.  One thing I've learned over the last 18 months at The Institute is that things don't get done by worrying about them, they get done by knocking off the necessary tasks one by one.
How to organise a conference
You'd think it would be simple.  There exists a group of people who desire to communicate with each other. Some have material that they wish to share with their colleagues or put to their rivals. Some want to hear the latest news from the cutting edge. Some need to trail their coat in front of potential employe{e|r}s. Everybody involved wants to hang out with their pals, catch up on the gossip and hopefully get a free lunch out of it.  So what's to organise? Date; Venue; Rooms; Tea&cookies; Flapjacks; Schedule; AudioVisual; WiFi; Parking; T'ilets; The free lunch. It takes a bit of time to sort these things out, so it's necessary to put a deadline for receipt of registrations and offers to speak. Easy. Much easier if you have on hand someone who has done this before, knows where everything is and who everyone is. What? me worry?

How to participate in a conference.
But all this depends on the participants; without whom there would be no conference. The conference usually goes well and if so it seems easy, but the graceful swan has madly pumping webbed feet (actually a very small team of Effectives and a generous handful of biddable graduate students) that propel it forward.  The poor swine goes forward with less stress if:
  • You register before (preferably long before) the deadline rather than the day before the day
  • You make clear whether you are submitting a talk or a poster or not
  • You submit a title and an abstract as requested on the announcement
  • You submit a talk but add that you won't be offended if you don't speak
  • Your email address is not
    • If your e-mail is include your academic affiliation
  • You send the A/V aids for your talk as PPT or PDF well before the day
    • You don't call that file ConferenceMay2014.pptx 
    • You do bring a backup of your talk but not on 5.25in floppy disk
  • You don't change your title, abstract, last name or affiliation after registration
  • You arrive to the conference 10 minutes early rather than 10 minutes into the first talk
  • You don't need to sort out your special needs at the Registration Desk
  • Your talk is less than the allotted time but not much less
  • You come up with an intelligent/intelligible question to ask after every talk
    • but don't feel you have to ask it
  • You don't dither in the tea/coffee line
    •  if you can't find the sugar clear out of the way
    • it's over by the biscuits
    • say thanks to the help
  • You talk to the waif-like student whose boss has abandoned her
  • You offer to host next year's conference
There: easy!

1 comment:

  1. hope it goes well, sounds like the run up was a wheeez