You got accepted! Congratulations! I knew if you tried you could certainly do it. So, what happens now? Part of the process of preparing for that presentation means figuring out what part of your work is most important to share. I find that limiting myself to 2-3 concepts helps me narrow the scope of my work without compromising its overall main idea. The following questions might guide you as you attempt to do the same:
- What do you hope your work achieves or accomplishes?
- How does your work advance the conversation?
- Consider the theme of the conference. How does your work relate to it?
- What do you hope to do with it next?
These are just some ideas of guiding questions to identify important concepts or points in your work.
Once you have identified those key concepts, you’ll want to move on to thinking about how to present them in a meaningful way. As scholars, sometimes we find that we have lived and breathed our work for so long that, in some ways, we become desensitized to what it claims and aims to achieve. At this point, you would probably benefit from peer review. I like to use the University Center for Writing-based Learning and friends with similar academic interests to get this kind of help. Submitting my work to the center or talking through ideas with friends allows me to get other perspectives on what I’m working on.
After receiving some feedback, you might start working on ways to (re)organize these concepts. A concept map is one means of doing so. This resource from the University of Waterloo in Canada gives a particularly helpful overview of concept maps and how they can be helpful. I often use them as a way to establish connections between my ideas. This is particularly useful if you end up using something like Prezi or slideware programs such as PowerPoint, Google Slides, or Keynote because it allows you to establish the logical progression of the parts of your content based on their relationships to each other and your main topic. After you’ve identified these relationships and outlined your key points, it becomes infinitely easier to begin developing the actual presentation. I have no doubt that once you put these resources to the test you will be pleasantly surprised with how much more prepared you might feel. Never fear—conferences are full of people supporting you and wanting to see you succeed.
As I have said multiple times before, a field is only as strong as its ability to cultivate a culture of mentorship and conferences are one place that cultivation happens. I hope you have found these posts helpful. I know I have truly enjoyed sharing the experiences of some UCWbLers and my own personal experiences with you all. I sincerely hope you take on the challenge of putting your ideas out there more often. We need your voice and you certainly have something to say. I look forward to meeting some of you at a conference someday. Keep up the effort. And when in doubt, know we are here to help!