Friday, 17 August 2012

#cpd23 Thing 15

Thing 15: Attending, presenting at and organising seminars, conferences and other events
I really enjoy attending events - author events organised by publicists/bookshops/librarians, skills training organised by CILIP or the SLA, networking events organised by CILIP YLG.
Money: Although a lot of them are a lot of money, especially for training, every month there are free events somewhere. Living in London makes it easier to find them, and being on the YLG London committee means I get invited to some fun things. In 2006 I applied for and got sponsorship by YLG London to attend the annual national conference so that's a good way for new professionals to get to these events if you keep your eye out for such things (although now I'm part of the London committee and know we can't afford to sponsor people any more). This year the joint SLA, SLG and YLG conference was during half term and on the off chance I asked my Headmaster whether the school could pay a contribution. He said as I was going in my own time (I'm term time only) the school would pay it all! I wasn't expecting that at all but if you don't ask you don't get! All companies/schools have funds for cpd for each employee so if you make a good enough argument for something you have a good chance of getting it.
Making the most: I don't think I can put anything better than the conference advice linked to in the #cpd23 blog - I did all these things for the joint conference apart from making time to visit the local area as I thought being away from home alone for the conference was long enough. I have very slowly got better at the networking aspect - finding people I 'knew' from twitter was a good start, as well as the YLG London committee members that came too of course! I've met a few of the publicists a few times now as well so it is nice to catch up with them, but this is only because I take advantage of as many free evening events around London as I am able to get to.
The idea of speaking at an event is slightly terrifiying, I'm fine talking in front of a group of pupils but talking in front of grownups is a completely different kettle of fish. It is definitely worth plucking up the courage though.
What to talk about: One of the things I've put in my PPDP is to do a session at one of the YLG London training days about the regular library lessons I've had with year 7s and how to fit them into any structure. I had a 10minute slot in a whole staff meeting at school last term and rushed through my presentation, a good number of the staff knew beforehand I was nervous, but it was really well received and boosted my confidence in public speaking. The purpose of the slot was to remind teachers of the role of the library in the school, how I can support them and how I need them to help me with promoting reading across the school.  I think it really had an impact.
Applying: As far as those two events are concerned, as part of the committee I can suggest it in a meeting, and at school it was through a line manager. For other organisations though, maybe one day! One of the break out sessions I attended at the last conference made me think 'I could do better than this' so who knows, as my confidence grows it'll be a future as a consultant perhaps ;-)
Presenting: I prefer to work from notes, in fact I have a terrible habit of writing exactly what I want to say and just reading it out, but I try to look up and do it from memory and glance at the script as a safety net.  I don't trust myself to remember everything I need to say, no matter how many times I rehearse it I will panic on the spot, and I'm pretty good at writing in the way I speak so it doesn't sound too much like I'm just reading an essay...hopefully! [After I wrote that I read Bethan's post about using a script - that is exactly what I do]  I did have a powerpoint for the staff meeting, no moving images or clipart, just some key statements and pictures. I reckoned if they're looking at the powerpoint they're not looking at me!   I always use Arial font because it was ingrained in me in public libraries that it is the most legible font so carrying it between operating systems should never be a problem.  I also had them rolling in the aisles with laughter, honestly!  I didn't want it to be serious and boring, I wanted them to pay attention all the way through, so I enjoyed putting my sarcastic self deprecating humour into the presentation.  I like Phil Bradley's closing paragraph to his post about public speaking:

"People won't remember what you said. They won't remember what you taught them. They remember how you made them feel. If you're enthusiastic, keen, interested and having fun, the chances are very high that they will as well"

All through this Thing I've talked about YLG Committee membership - but how else does one get experience in helping organise professional events? Saying that, at school I have organised a number of author events, the library's contribution to open evenings, and a couple of events in the library about reading for pleasure for adults associated with the school (parents/staff/governors). It hasn't been too terrible, as long as you keep on top of things, just make sure everyone that needs to know anything knows it with enough notice, and prepare the scene and props well! I'm sure the larger the event the more stressful the planning but just keep calm and carry on...

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