April 2, 2019, by Tatiana

Academic conferenc-ing 101

Happy April to you all!

Spring has sprung and it is conference season!

I would like to provide some quick advice on participating in an academic conference. There are multiple sources online that provide tips on how to attend a conference. Here is a summary of the most basic tips:

  • Practice your talk and be prepared for potential questions.
  • Network: make a list of people you would like to talk to.
  • Dress appropriately.
  • Always be on time to talks in order to show respect to the presenters.
  • Follow up on any connections you have made (with which I don’t always agree).

Below, I provide you with my own take on how to enjoy a conference:

  1. Respect your audience.

Make a brief presentation to just make the end of your allocated time. Don’t tire the audience with too much detail. Remember they don’t know your research so really point out what is more important about it! PLEASE don’t add all this text on the slides. I know it is 2019 and you might think “who does this still?” but yes, I saw that once again in the last conference I went not even 6 months ago.      

2. Have fun!

Don’t go out there full of stress thinking they will eat you alive. Academics can be harsh but they are understanding with PhD students. There are always some provocative ones but has never really happened to me in any of the conferences I’ve been. You go there, attend interesting talks, present your own work, meet new people that might be into your work and will give you insights into their own research, you will get free food and drinks and probably engage in fun activities as each conference usually arranges some. Don’t have in mind you definitely need to network with the right people; let serendipity work! Finally, remember that usually conferences are multicultural; take this as an opportunity to meet people from all over the world and learn how academia works in their country! Broaden your academic horizon!

3. Dress to impress!

Please, don’t take this the wrong way! It sounds a bit superficial but what I mean is take care of yourself when going to a conference. In this way you will be remembered easily, stand out from the crowd and will show respect to the location and organisers. I am always impressed by fellow academics with smart outlooks and always try to be very careful about my styling choices. Color up your life, no need to be all black and grey; color does not mean your research is not serious!

4. Own this experience!

Of course you should be confident and proud of getting accepted to talk! Your work is important! Act like you believe it. You have a very specific expertise gained through your PhD that no else has. Take it out to the world and support its importance!

Posted in Tatiana