New Professionals Conference

Thinking of submitting a paper for the New Professionals Conference? Here’s some unofficial advice.

Wikiman logo made up of words .....

(A lot of this applies to conference proposals generally.)

CILIP have announced details of the 2011 New Professionals Conference, which takes place in Manchester at the University, on June 20th. The Hashtag is #npc11 if you want to discuss it on Twitter etc.

There is currently a call for proposals to present, and I can't recommend highly enough that you do this if you're within 5 years of having joined the profession. You have till April 15th to get something in. All the details are on the CILIP website.

Why present?

It’s a brilliant experience! It takes you out of your comfort zone, it connects you to your peers, it gets you into the conference for free! It’s completely worth doing – I guarantee you’ll feel differently about the profession afterwards, more positive, more energised and more excited.

Subject matter

Important disclaimer: I was on the organising committee last year and involved with choosing the successful papers, but I am NOT involved this year, so these views are just my opinion and are in no way official. Kay?

The most important thing about the subject matter is making it appropriate to the context of the conference. So for example, something about the value of libraries generally might be really interesting and really entertaining, but it might not be as useful for this particular conference as something which the delegates can take away and apply to their own lives, and to their own careers. Think about the utility of what you're saying, and the 'take-homes' that the people watching your presentation will get from it.

Be explicit about the value of your presentation. You have 300 words to play with – I’d probably use 250 to talk about the topic, and the last 50 would start with the phrase ‘this paper will be beneficial to new professionals because…’.

Get a second pair of eyes on it before you send it off – another opinion is almost always helpful.


Same disclaimer as above - this is my opinion, and is certainly nothing official or endorsed by the organisers.

I think, personally, the formatting of your proposal really matters. The organisers of this event are volunteering and doing it on their own time, so there's not always the luxury of a huge amount of time to discuss the proposals. There'll probably be more than 40 decent ideas, and it takes a long time to get through that much stuff. So anything that’s poorly put together is already heading towards the 'maybe' or 'no' piles rather than the 'yes' pile. Of course the content of the proposal is by far the most important thing, but that oft quoted scenario of 'two otherwise equal candidates' actually applies quite often in this type of situation, so don't put yourself at a disadvantage. Poor formatting shows a lack of attention to detail, and a lack of understanding of the assessment process. For what it's worth, here's what I would do if I were submitting:

  • Send a PDF - Word docs are only fit for emailing to people if there's a chance the recipient may need to edit it.
  • Don't use Times New Roman, use Calibri, Arial or similar, and make it a normal rather than tiny or huge font size.
  • Include your name, a short bio and your email address in the document (this does not have to fit into the 300 words - make it clear which section is which). You may have also put some or all of this stuff in the email you send it in, but the chances are the panel will be printing out all the documents and getting together over coffee to go through everything - they don't want to be making notes or printing emails. Put everything in one place for their easy reference.
  • It goes without saying, proof-read it to death. Read it out loud to catch mistakes, and don't rely on the spell-check - I still find myself having used the wrong their / there / they're from time-to-time… Americanised spellings are another thing spell-check might not catch.
  • Send it to someone whose opinion you trust, and get them to check it over too.


And if you do get accepted…

You’ll be asked to write a ‘full proposal’ by June. This is really just to check you can follow up on your promises and deliver a full paper. It doesn’t have to be written to a journal standard of prose and referencing. When I presented in 2009, I wrote mine up all formally and then a week before the conference, I started to practice delivering it and realised that I’d have to completely rework it. I couldn’t read it out loud as it was (that would have been rubbish) and I couldn’t even just split it up into notes (the tone and phrases were suitable for being read alone, not said out loud to an audience). So don’t beat yourself up trying to write the full proposal – it’d be more productive to write the notes you plan to learn or speak from, and then turn THOSE into the full-proposal, not the other way around. More tips on presenting for first time speakers are available elsewhere on the blog.

All just my opinion of course. :) Here's another one - last year's Best Paper prize winner Bronagh offers her views too.

Good luck!

-    thewikiman

A competition to benefit everyone in libraries, not just the winners

LISNPN, the New Professionals Network, has just announced it's first ever competition and I am really excited about it.

A scree-grab showing the LISNPN competition blog post

You can read all about it on the network itself, but the short version is this: we want people who have entered the profession in the last decade or so to create a piece of library advocacy. It could be an article, a video, a slide-deck, an essay, a piece of art, a project, a campaign - literally anything that doesn't pre-date the competition. The only criteria is that it gets some pro-library ideas to people who wouldn't normally engage with libraries at all. The idea is to indulge in a bit of stealth advocising - to package up some library advocacy in something so intrinsically awesome that it reaches new audiences. Doesn't even have to be particularly stealthy - just reach new people.

The first prize is a full pass to Umbrella, CILIP's biennial conference which takes place in July this year. We're working with CILIP on this competition so thank you very much to CEO Annie Mauger for agreeing to be part of this - the prize is worth up to £500 (based on what the pass would cost to buy; it'd be slightly cheaper if you are a CILIP member already) and includes refreshments, social activities and the Gala Dinner. Attendance at such a conference is usually out of the reach of New Professionals due to the cost, so we're really hoping the competition sparks loads of interest and is entered by people who would love to attend but couldn't normally. Not only that but there is a second prize of attendance at the New Professionals Conference this year! This has kindly been donated by the Career Development Group. Full details of this year's NPC are still to be decided, but it'll take place in June, somewhere other than London. You can read about last year's conference here to get an idea of what it's all about.

We'd really encourage as many people as possible to enter, whether it will be your first attempts at library advocacy, or if you're a veteran. You can read the full Terms and Conditions on LISNPN. (And thank you muchly to the LISNPN admin team for spending ages with me working those out!)

Apart from the great prize, and it being another step forward for the network, there's another reason I'm thrilled about this. Every single entry should benefit the library community, whether it wins or not. Many competition entries are inward-facing rather than out-ward facing - an essay about why you want to win, only ever seen by the judges, for example. That's fine, but this is different. Because every single entry to this competition will be a little piece of library advocacy, a small effort to raise awareness about the profession and the industry. The beauty of a competition format like this is that one prize inspires multiple efforts - to actually commission 10 or 20 or 50 people to create advocacy would cost a fortune, whereas here we only 'pay out' once, or rather twice as we have a second prize. So lots of innovation is (hopefully) catalysed. When this happened in the air-travel industry, with the Orteig prize in 1927, it moved things on by years in a single leap! Not saying that will happen here, but I'm still excited at the prospects of what we can do.

You can read more about the Orteig Prize and how we can use the method to advance the library profession, in the unofficial part 2 of this blog post, here. It's a really interesting story!

- thewikiman

NPC2010: That was the day that was

Chris Rhodes and I presenting at NPC2010 Wow.

There's probably going to be a whole spate of conference reports on CILIP's New Professionals Conference but I can't resist adding my own. What a day! It was absolutely ace. It's tempting to talk about things coming full circle etc, with this being the second ever NPC, and last year's inaugural one being what pushed me over the edge into the world of blogging, and me helping organise this one and delivering a workshop on blogging etc. But I'm still inspired by Biddy Fisher's closing speech, and am desperate to follow through on all the optimism in the room and make stuff happen, so perhaps a circle is the wrong analogy as that suggests either coming to a halt where you started, or going round again... Maybe coming full circle in the same way a shot-put goes full circle before being launched off into the field. :)

Things that inspired me

Even though I was gutted to miss three of the presentation that ran concurrently with my own workshop, I still got loads out of the stuff I did get to see. I really liked Eleni Zazani's presentation on bridging the gap between employability and employment. I was sat next to Nicolás Robinson Garcia during that bit, and was once again struck by how awesome it is that people can present eloquently in a second language  - I'd say I was jealous, but the over-riding emotion is disappointment that like so many Brits I am rubbish at languages. I've got no excuses. (In fact, I was the first kid in any of my French Teacher's classes ever to get below a 'C' at GSCE French  - apologies, Mrs Cousins!) Anyway, two things in particular I really liked - firstly her earthquake analogy. She was comparing the current job market with an earthquake situation (she's Greek and has apparently been in a few!) and at first I thought it was just a simple pun on the fact that things were a bit unstable. But then she continued and explained that rigid structures fall during earthquakes, whereas flexible ones are able to move during them and then wobble back into place once the earthquake is over - and must we be able to be flexible in this economic down-turn, and be ready to re-assume our places once it is through. I liked that. The other thing I liked was that when she was talking about feeding the fire of your enthusiasm, she mentioned remembering why you wanted to be an Information Professional and keeping that at the front of your mind, rather than the back. Great advice.

Awen Clement's talk on unleashing your professional edge was brilliant, and very nearly won the prize (just two votes separated the first two papers, and everyone had a sizeable stack of voting slips on their pile when we were totalling them up, which is fantastic really) - it was properly inspiring stuff and full of practical things to take away with you. I particularly liked how much the melting pot of previous non-library jobs she'd done had ununexpectedly (or perhas expectedly) fed into her current role and made her better equipped to perform it. That, to me, is related to the argument against librarianship as an under-grad degree - with it most commonly being a Masters, I feel you get valuable life-experience and experience of different disciplines that can feed in to the way you do your job.

I loved hearing about what public libraries get up to, via Ann Donovan and Rachel Edwards. It struck me just what a completely different world it is to the academic one I inhabit. It's almost like a different profession - the resourcefulness and skills they were talking about are not ones I possess.

I also really enjoyed Laura and Lindsay's talk on Cataloguing and Classification. Their argument was that we should not forget the traditional skills that underpin modern librarianship, which is very important to remember and sometimes gets lost in the breathless rush towards 2.0 uptopia. Social media is after all mainly about communication, and communication is a means to and end not an end in itself. What they were saying about cataloguing being an important skill for everyone no matter what their role (more or less) really hit home - having resented every minute of the cat & class module at Northumbria on my MSc (until I realised there were right and wrong answers, so it was possible to get more than 90% for a module and push my overall mark up to a Commendation) I actually found it incredibly useful just last week, when creating metadata for digital objects. Metadata is basically what makes the Internet work for users, and is incredibly valuable. So, yay for its creators.

Most inspiring of all, though, were Biddy Fisher's closing words (Biddy being the current CILIP president). I found myself grinning from ear-to-ear throughout - she was obviously inspired by what she'd seen, and inspired us in return and gave us confidence that we could not only succeed and go places but also bend CILIP to reflect our needs in the future. She said she was sure there were future CILIP presidents in the room, and I found myself wondering how many were on my row - I could think of two potentially (and there were only two people on my row...), the point being that her faith in us gave me faith in myself and in us as a group of peers, and it pushed my ambition right up. It was proper inspiration. (I just can't believe I literally stumbled into this profession, and that it would turn out to be so consuming and involving and generally great...)

Things I learned personally (this bit is quite narcissistic, feel free to skip it...)

Being on the organising committee is stressful! I don't get stressed that easily but I was definitely on edge for this event. Even though I had the least to do of the proper organisers by far (and owe a HUGE debt of gratitude to Stella Wisdom for all the unsung hero stuff she did on the day) you just feel a sense of responsibility for the whole thing, as opposed to last year where I could just worry about my own paper. You sit there just desperate for it to go well. But it did! So that's okay.

Meeting people off twitter is ace! I knew that anyway, but I'd never met the twitterati on such a massive scale before and it was great fun. Big up the #oxfordlibrarymafia massive. :)

I still haven't really got the hang of small-scale presentations. For whatever reason, I find it easier to present to a big room than a small room. My workshop went okay, I think - I'll have to read the feedback forms to find out what people thought of it because I wasn't sure. It certainly went down well online though, apparently finding it's way onto Slideshare's homepage as the most tweeted presentation on the net (and Woodsiegirl's earnt a similar accolade on Facebook - we think Slideshare might just be broken or something!) despite some issues with my future-tweeting reversing the order of some tweets... I was very surprised to find myself running out of time (we started late, which didn't help) so it all felt a bit rushed and unbalanced, but I hope the delegates got something out of it. I put too much time into the materials preparation though - that much work would be completely unsustainable if I did public speaking on a proper regular basis.

So the workshop felt slightly difficult, but the LISNPN launch presentation with Chris Rhodes (more on LISNPN next time) felt really easy. I think it might come down to the fact that I'm naturally a fairly reserved person and quite laid-back, with a fairly quiet voice, who normally gravitates towards the observing end of the participation spectrum - I like to sit back and take things in on the edge, rather than being in the middle of the circle. So the gap between that and what is needed for a large-scale presentation is quite big and perhaps therefore easier to define and to leap - clearly being quiet and reserved doesn't work in a room full of 100 people, so you have to step up and become a performer, amplifying your voice literally and your communication style metaphorically. I know what I have to do there, so I can do it. Small scale presentations to a room with far fewer people is a lot less of a step up than that, yet still my normal 'talking to people' style of communicating doesn't work - there's a balance there somewhere in the middle, which I'm yet to achieve. Something to work on, anyway.

I heart Chris Rhodes (more than ever). Presenting with Chris was brilliant fun, I had a blast. We had so many other duties between us we had basically zero preparation - we got as far as dividing the slides up, but had no run through, no notes, and no real idea what the other one of us was going to say. Liking your co-presenter enough to insult each other with impunity is a great benefit to a relaxed presentation, I think! It was in fact the only time I felt completely relaxed in the whole day - it was the only presentation with not much riding on it in a way, as the others were either competing for the best paper prize, or opening the day, or running the day like (CDG Past President) Maria Cotera's bits, or closing and summing up the day. Chris and I just got to enjoy ourselves for 10 minutes.

Thanks so much to everyone who has signed up to LISNPN by the way; about 25 people have gone straight home and created their accounts just since Chris and I spoke less than 24hrs ago, so we're now up to 77 members - that's a great start!

Things to ponder for next year and the future

First of all, we ARE going to have some battledecks action! Chris and I will be participating in it, any other volunteers? It's an ALA thing, where protagonists are given a topic and a slide deck they've never seen before AS THEY GO UP ON STAGE, then have 4 or 5 minutes to present on the fly. It will be mint! You can see videos via Bobbi Newman's blog.

[Dear ALA, please don't sue us for stealing your fun ideas!]

Should we do the conference over two days? I was looking through the twitter stream from the conference (or see here for a nice bit of analysis of the #npc2010 tweets), and noticed Lex Rigby suggesting it would have been good to have had it over two days and with more workshops. Speaking as someone who missed three presentations I really wanted to see (including Bronagh's winning effort - congrats Bronagh!) because I was in a workshop, I think that's actually a great idea - we could have workshops on day 1, and presentations on day 2. People could pay a reduced rate to come to just one of the days, or full whack to come to both. What do people reckon to that idea? Would it be worth doing, or too logistically difficult or prohibitively expensive with an extra hotel night etc? Would love to hear what you think in the comments.

"We need more men!" Initially when Maria said in her summing up about needing more men, I thought it was just a personal plea from her. But she actually meant the conference needed more men.. And it's true, the vast majority were female. Of course the library profession is predominantly female (although I bet that percentage is not reflected in the percentage of Library Directors and Assistant Directors who are male; there seems to be loads of them, but that's a debate for another day) but still, would be nice to see some greater representation of the other half of the species next year. I read something in the Observer on Sunday about how female graduates are getting a lot more jobs than males because males are complacent and 'generally hopeless'. Three people from my organisation came to the conference as delegates, and they were all female - I hope the men don't feel complacent about continuing professional development, or generally 'too cool' to engage with conferences like ours. Anyway.

How do we keep energising this cohort when they're no longer 'New' Professionals?

Perhaps I'm getting carried away by the euphoria of it all going well and meeting so many lovely people, but it really felt like a special group of Information Professionals who could make things happen in the future. I was honoured and thrilled to be with so many forward-thinking, dynamic peers. But quite a few of them, myself included, are close to exceeding the 'five year' CILIP definition of what constitutes a New Professional. And quite rightly, we should soon start to make way for the next generation to keep the progress flowing, the innovation coming, and the ideas fresh. But still, collectively we do have a lot of great people with great ideas - we need to continue to bring together this particular cohort (and adding to it) past the point when we're all 6+ years into our library careers. We won't be classed as senior professionals for ages - so we need to come up with some umbrella which we can continue to congregate under, and be energised by, at events like this. Any thoughts on this?

Anyway, the short version of this very long post is: NPC2010 was ruddy marvelous. :)


Fail or Prevail: Top Tips For First Time Speakers


Fail or Prevail Poster on the tube

In the run-up to the New Professionals Conference next month, a few people have asked about sources of advice about presenting. I don’t claim to be an expert in this by any means  -  I’ve only presented at a handful of events and there’s loads I need to work on. (Not least of which is the fact that my voice doesn’t project too well, so I almost never get to present in anything like my natural way of speaking because I’M TOO BUSY TRYING TO MAKE SURE PEOPLE CAN HEAR ME. Happy days.) But I do go to a lot of events and see a lot of presentations, and anyone who does this pretty quickly gets to know what works and what doesn’t.

I should say, before I go any further, that this is just my opinion. This isn’t me with my “Ned Potter, New Professionals Conference Organising Committee” hat on; this stuff applies to all presentations, generally. It’s me with my usual “thewikiman spouting off about stuff” hat on – you certainly don’t have to do any of the stuff I’m about to say, if you’re presenting at NPC2010.

For me this whole thing divides into two key areas, plus general stuff.

Presentation Style

  • Reading it out = fail. If you’re going to read your presentation out, you need to be really good at reading stuff out. 9 times out of 10, unless you’re delivering a paper at an academic conference or something very precise of that nature, presentations with notes sound better than presentations read in full from prose. Stuff you write and stuff you say out loud requires different words, different phrases, and a different style. I originally intended to read my paper out last year, then I tried it a week or so beforehand. I panicked – I just could not make it sound interesting, or dynamic, or natural. It took a while to put it into note form – so if you do plan to do this then start the process early…
  • Saying out loud the exact same stuff that’s on the slide = fail. Admittedly there are times when this can be useful – statistics, and quotations, are times when I like to reinforce what I’m saying verbatim with words on the screen. Otherwise, your voice and your visual materials should compliment rather than duplicate each other. People will read your slide in their heads quicker than you can read it out loud anyway. Also, don’t turn your head and read the slides off the screen – you won’t believe how much this affects whether or not people can hear you. You have the laptop or whatever you’re using for the slides in front of you, so glance down at that if you do need to read stuff such as a quote or statistic.
  • Matching style to context = prevail. Things that work well in a seminar situation don’t always work in a big hall full of people, and vice versa. After New Professionals last year, I was feeling pretty confident going into the CILIP Graduate Day – I was delivering an improved version of the paper that won me a prize. But although the content was improved, the style wasn’t quite right and I don’t feel I did a very good job – my presentation was well suited to being delivered to 100 people in a big room, and less well suited to being delivered to 30 people in a smaller, more informal setting. I can’t even really put my finger on what was wrong with it, but I do know that if I had my time again I’d rewrite it for a more intimate audience.
  • Practicing in a meaningful way = prevail. There’s no point in practicing your presentation in your head. You need to say it out loud, in a voice that will carry. This changes some phraseology, how long it takes to perform etc. Leave gaps for taking sips of water, for pauses to collect yourself, and for the inevitable moment when you can’t pick up a page of notes on the first three tries, or pick up two pages at once by mistake. You really, really, have to practice it exactly as you will do it on the day, except not in front of a hundred people. Even if you feel silly. It’s worth it, honestly. If your spouse / partner / house-mate is going to laugh at you practicing at full volume, do it when they’re out (or leave them).
  • Timing your presentation to be exactly right, then reducing it by 10% anyway = prevail. There is some ancient Law of Presentations that says it’ll take longer on the day than it did when you rehearsed it. I practiced my presentation for NPC2009 and got it down to the exact 20 minute slot I had to fill, it was spot on. I spoke really slowly and left plenty of time for pauses as noted above. And still, at the conference itself, I ended up skipping a slide entirely (and I only had about 9) because I was running short of time. Get it so it takes exactly as long as it should do, then go through and ruthlessly cut out 10% of filler. It’s better to be under than over, and the chances are you’ll end up with a more focused and better presentation anyway

Presentation Materials

  • A gazillion slides = fail. Generally speaking, fewer slides is better.
  • More than a small handful of bullet points per slide, plus having any unnecessary animations = fail. You really don’t want more than five bullet points on a slide, it gets too cluttered, small, and hard to read. Just spread stuff across two slides if necessary - or even better, just write less stuff.  Similarly with animations – unless particular animations serves a purpose, don’t use them. Having your bullet points bounce in from the right of the screen, or unfurl like a blind, is old. Also, studies have shown that Power Point animations that feed in the bullet points one-by-one actually lull the brain into a non-receptive state, as it expects to be spoon-fed thereafter, meaning people remember less of your presentation. I was told that on a PowerPoint course*, so that makes it FACT. *(Yes, I went on a PowerPoint course. I was young, and had work-budget left to spend on self-development.)
  • Making an effort with PowerPoint = prevail. PowerPoint is so easy to use, many people don’t look beyond its basic templates. But they’re pretty ugly. I was talking to Buffy Hamilton about this and we agreed there’s really no excuse, anymore, for not making an effort – it takes a couple of minutes longer to prepare a much, much nicer ‘zen’ style presentation. Have a look at one of Buffy’s examples, or Bobbi Newman’s, or Helene Blowers'. The essential principle is, you have a CC image (there are literally millions on flickr, of course) which serves as the background for your slide, then you create some kind of text box and put the key point in it (or just type straight onto the pic). No fussy slides, no bullet points, no naff-looking templates – just the key message, and a picture which tells the story. It’s really easy to do.
  • Exploring alternatives to PowerPoint = prevail. Of course, you don’t have to use PowerPoint at all. There are plenty of alternatives now which look fabulous but are very easy to use – have a look at Prezi (which I’ll be using for own presentation this year - very much a work in progress at the moment -  along with some zen slides too), or Ahead, or They make you look awesomely professional with very little effort, and we can all enjoy that!

And in general…

There is a whole lot of common sense stuff which everyone says, everyone knows, and still people quite often forget to do.

  • Get familiar with the facilities available to you = prevail. Email the organisers and ask what there is. Of course there’ll be some kind of PC with PowerPoint and a projector, but will there be internet access on that PC for you to log in to your online presentation software? Does it have Office 2007 or will you have to make sure to save your slides as .ppt rather than .pptx? And talking of PowerPoint – if you use this, don’t save your file as ‘Conference Presentation’ or the name of the event. Everyone does that. When you arrive, you’ll probably transfer your presentation from your USB stick onto the PC everyone will use to present on – in the heat of the moment of change-over, from the previous presentation to yours, you’ll find yourself staring at 8 icons on the desktop all called the same thing and probably have a stroke from all the panic. Save your presentation as your name, even though that’ll seem silly at the time when you’re on your own in your room…
  • Get familiar with the people you’ll be working alongside = prevail. If there’s a meet-up / tweet-up the night before, get involved. If the event on the day starts at 10am, get there at 9:15 and set up your stuff, then go and speak to the other people who are there early. Chances are they’ll be either running the event or they’ll be fellow presenters – it’s great to get to know these people beforehand, as it’ll help you feel more comfortable later on the stage. Also, say hello to the person doing the sound if you’re mic’d up – they can make or break your presentation, so go and say hi even if they’ve got scary beards, like wizards, and look like they hate you.
  • Negating the impact of your words by saying ‘um’, ‘like’ and ‘sort of’ a lot = fail. Unlike in TV dialogue or books, people in real life say ‘um’ a LOT. In fact, perfectly normal people say ‘er’ as much as ‘the film comedy nervous person who says er a lot’ says er, if you listen. That’s fine, we all do it. But when you’re presenting, you need to have absolute conviction in what you’re saying, be confident that it doesn’t need to be qualified or mitigated by any indecision, and OWN it so much you don’t ever have to fall back on saying ‘sort of’ to buy yourself some time to remember what you’re saying.
  • Starting big! = prevail. So many good books or films have complicated back stories to tell, yet they still manage to start with a bang. It’s the old, ooh look someone’s being garrotted before the opening credits, and then after that it says ‘five years earlier’, trick. If you have to do a lot of setting up to make your point, open with a bold statement first, then go back to the beginning and do the back-story. So let’s say you’re talking about The Librarian of the Future. You could say, “libraries are changing, this is why it’s important, here are some trends, we need to adapt” blah blah. OR, you could say “The librarian of the future will work in the cloud. He or she will not be employed to work in a building, but rather will work collaboratively with colleagues from around the world to provide 24hr rolling information services to online subscribers” or whatever – THEN go back to the start and give them all the context.
  • Not following your own advice = fail. I’ve just read all that back and quite a lot of it I didn’t do last time I presented. Sigh.

So there you go. For tips on speaking generally, I thought this article was really good – The Introvert’s Guide to Speaking.

Good luck!

-          thewikiman

p.s since writing this, I’ve read 30 quick tips for speakers, which includes this one which I think is a great point, and that I hadn’t thought of: don’t apologise for stuff the audience won’t know is wrong. If you come to a slide and something mysterious has happened – ie a graphic has disappeared, or whatever – they’ll only know it’s a problem if you make it a problem. Just recompose yourself and move on without it. This is another piece of advice I’ve failed to follow in the past! I say stuff like, “ooh, that’s weird, erm.. not sure what’s happened there! Heh-heh! Seems to have been some kind of problem, the video I’d embedded has gone! I wonder what’s happened there..” SHUT UP THE WIKIMAN! You buffoon! Generally speaking, even if you do clearly have to apologise for some kind of disaster, doing so once is preferable to doing so multiple times.

p.p.s Plus that same article also has ‘always repeat the question back to the audience so they can hear it’ which I should have put in, too.

p.p.s See all the guides to everything that I've ever written, in one continually updated place, here.

Roll up, roll up - get the low-down on the New Professionals Conference!

Back from holiday now, so here's a second post in quick succession to make up for lost time... I’m on the organising committee for this year’s New Professionals Conference (run by CILIP’s Career Development Group), so here’s the inside track on what is happening. Full details of the programme are on CILIP’s website – this year it takes the format of presentations in the main hall all day, with parallel sessions going on at the same time for those who want to attend them. So the main papers are delivered in two clusters in the morning and afternoon – simultaneous to the morning are Workshops A and B, and simultaneous to the afternoon are Workshops C and D. You can choose to attend one of those workshops (you have to pick just one, and each is limited to 10 places; you put down a reserve choice on the form, but it’s first-come-first-served so book soon if you’ve a strong preference) or you can choose not to attend any of them, in which case you’ll see the full programme of presentations in the main hall. The workshops are quite practical and address specific subjects and needs – so if you don’t need what they’re offering, don’t just automatically tick a box from A-D… better to attend the main presentations which are many and varied in the same time-frame. If you DO have a specific requirement that the workshops cover, it’s a great opportunity to get some hands-on experience in a small group.

As has been mentioned elsewhere, an extremely high standard of papers were submitted this year. We literally could have run two conferences (perhaps three) without any ‘filler’; whittling down all the proposals was a very difficult process. The result, though, is an extremely useful set of presentations, on diverse themes but united by the fact that pretty much all of them (and this goes for the workshops too) will give you, as a New Professional, something to apply directly to your career once you leave the conference hall. There’s a lot to make you think, but there’s a lot which you can actually do, too – whether it’s to boost your 9-to-5 job, your use of social media, your professional development or your career aspirations. I will miss the morning session as it runs in parallel with my own workshop – I’m absolutely gutted because Bethan, Laura and Bronagh’s presentations look mint! Hopefully I’ll hear all about them.

One way you can hear what’s going on in the main conference if you attend a workshop is via Twitter. I know some people actively dislike twitter and the whole concept of micro-blogging (I used to count myself among their number) but so many Information Professionals have embraced it that we want to make the most of it at this conference. There will be a Twitter Officer who’ll have an official role to tweet on the conference throughout the day, and we’re hoping to have screens set up in the foyer with a feed of all the #NPC2010 tagged tweets from everyone as they happen. (I believe this is known as a back-channel… oooh, get me. Incidentally there's already an archive of #npc2010 tweets which is auto-updated as they happen, so check it out - distressingly, another event of some kind has since adopted the hashtag, but it's easy to sift those out as they're all tweets in a foreign language...) We’ll also be getting people’s Twitter usernames printed on their name badges – FOR THE WIN! :) This will of course be entirely optional, but for those who want to, their username will be on there with their actual real name too. Hopefully this will facilitate easy networking – it’ll break the ice, establish a way-in to talk to people, and of course mean you can get a head-start and build on existing rapport if you’ve interacted online already. W00t.

I’m leading Workshop A - The importance of an online presence: entering the world of library blogs and blogging. If you’re wondering whether this one is for you, here’s what it’ll consist of. I'm going to establish why I think it's increasingly important to have some kind of online identity in this profession: how it effects your employment prospects, what you can get out of it in terms of professional development, and what Google search results on your name will be like if left to their own devices... (this bit is hands-on.) I'll go through the various platforms and media used for blogging, and explain what is appropriate for each situation, and discuss all the annoying nitty-gritty stuff like registering blogs with Google, publicising them, generating traffic and so on. I'm keen on engagement with other people in the blogging community so I'll talk about the community aspect of it too. There'll be discussion of good (and maybe bad!) blogs, and I'll follow up on this blog with a top-10 essential blogs for New Professionals, too...

The focus isn't really on the content of blogs as such - I wouldn't presume to tell anyone how to write. It's all the other stuff that goes with it, simplified for you so you can get started right away, rather than learning by trial and error like the rest of us. The idea is you come out of the session enthused by the idea of blogging, aware of how it can actually be important to get online these days, and equipped with a bunch of practical knowledge it took me hours and hours to find out through searching asking questions myself... and you can go away and start a successful blog the very next day!

We've had a great rate of registrations so far, so get in there quick if you want to come. I can't recommend it highly enough - last years' was vibrant, vital, entertaining and exciting. There's also still time to win a sponsored place, via a CILIP competition, too.

- thewikiman

p.s you can help out one of the presenters at this year's conference with preperations for her paper, by filling out a sruvey as detailed here... Shiny Forager Blog Post.