Posts Tagged ‘Conferences’

Tales from the Conference World

8 August 2011

By Christina Morin

I’m just back from the conference I mentioned in my recommendations for this month and am full of ideas to pursue, books to read, and potential articles to write. In fact, the past month and a half has proven an incredibly exciting time for my research, largely thanks to the stimulating conferences I’ve attended. I may habitually complain about the time conferences consume when travel, paper-writing, and attendance is factored in, but, the fact is, a good conference can be worth weeks of dedicated library time in terms of advancing research goals, introducing new perspectives, and tweaking arguments. It’s not just the act of pulling together a coherent 20-minute paper – as we all know, a pretty spectacular feat in itself – but also the sometimes uncomfortable necessity of introducing yourself to peers from other universities, of making a point of meeting scholars whose work you appreciate, and of generally putting yourself out there as an interested individual engaged in (one hopes!) interesting, related research. In a word – networking.

If I’m attending a well-established conference for the first time, I more often than not find myself suddenly and uncharacteristically shy and socially awkward. This is when the great social lubricant – wine – can come in very handy, and I think the practice of hosting a wine reception on the first evening of a conference a very good idea. Kudos to the person who thought that up! Although it’s a good idea to proceed with caution, especially when you’re a lightweight like me, these receptions afford the perfect opportunity to meet and greet, as, of course, do the many coffee breaks, dinners, social events, and impromptu drinks. Many a fruitful collaboration has been forged in these more informal and therefore, more comfortable, spaces. Read more

Sketches of conferensis

16 April 2010

By Juliana Adelman

Conference season is nearly upon us.  Oh, the academic conference…  On the one hand they are vital means of communication, feedback, idea sharing and ‘networking’.  On the other hand, they are overly numerous, expensive, time-consuming and often disappointing.  I have to say that I recall my first academic conference with considerable fondness.  I was in the first year of my PhD and I went to Manchester for the British Society for the History of Science’s annual postgraduate conference.  I was so nervous before my talk that I couldn’t eat and almost lost the half a sandwich I managed to stuff into my dry mouth.  On the way back from lunch with a group of my colleagues, a rather indiscreet participant told my fellow panelist not to worry about her talk as the other papers in her session sounded horribly boring.  He meant MY paper, of course.  Just the thing to calm the nerves.  However, once the talk was out of the way, there I was, surrounded by other people who also liked the history of science!  Hurrah!  Shared esoteric knowledge is truly salve to the lonely postgrad soul.  Now I have (mostly) got over the pre-talk jitters.  I have moved to the dark side of conference organisation, full of budget spread sheets, orphan bank accounts with strange names, nagging emails (mine), whining emails (theirs), revised programmes, registration forms and conference packs.  To be honest, I much prefer sweating over giving a paper. Read More

Bring out your events!

28 September 2009

Billy_Clark_town_crier_NantucketThis post is really just an effort to highlight our Events page.  We aim to provide a central listing for all kinds of history events taking place in Ireland.  Please oh please send us your events.  Email us at  As you can see on the Events page, we usually put in a single sentence which also serves as a hyperlink to a website for the actual event.  So far in October there are conferences on Monism in Belfast, the history of New Age religion in Maynooth, the War of Independence in Dublin, and the Ulster plantation, also in Dublin.  Finally the Roscrea conference is on Irish Saints and the Liturgy.  I’m sure there’s more going on.  We are happy to add exhibitions, radio and tv programmes and public lectures.  (Have a look at Lisa’s tv and radio guide for the week while you’re at it.)  So bring out your events, we want your events!

Quick and dirty tips… for public speaking

15 September 2009

By Lisa-Marie Griffith

Lisa B. Marshall I have sat through far too many papers, lectures and seminars cringing as novice and even veteran speakers have stumbled, mumbled and whispered through their presentations leaving the audience mystified as to what they are trying to say. My personal pet peeve is that conference monster (there is always at least one) who does not time their paper, or just believes that what they have to say is far more important then the other people in the panel who have stuck to time,  and runs 5, 10 or sometimes even twice as long as their time slot allows (this of course is when the audience turns on the chair). People drift off and miss the point of the paper completely. As historians we should be better presenters. The goal of most who present at conferences is to enter academia and lecture. Learning how to give a good presentation is key to all researchers and future lecturers.  There is NO point in giving a paper if people can not hear you or understand what you are trying to convey. I often find that regardless of what someone is saying, if they are well paced, clear and loud enough I will sit up and listen. And yet that seems to be a difficult thing to achieve for most of us. Nerves will often get the best of us and intentions to speak slowly and clearly go out the window when the speaker is faced with a crowded room of fellow postgrads, academics or people who you would just like to impress. The novice will  rush through their paper, or throw their heads deep into the desk to hide rather than projecting their voices out to the room.

Nerves can not be the only reason why some papers are so incomprehensible.  So why are we so bad?  Read more