From the Archives: Academic Conferences

name badgesConferences are an important part of many people’s academic careers: they provide the opportunity to present your research to specialists in your field; to talk with friends and colleagues at other institutions; and to learn about new publications, methods, and current research. They can also cause anxiety or disappointment (especially those conferences that include job interviews). But being prepared for your next conference, whether it’s your first or your fiftieth, with some tips from the ProfHacker archive, can help you enjoy your trip and get the most from the experience.

The Conference Itself

Brian Croxall’s How to Hack a Conference (AKA Attend One Productively) is a must-read, with sage advice about preparing your presentation, being a responsible co-panelist, and how to introduce yourself to people you meet. Erin offers excellent suggestions on How to Deliver an Effective Conference Paper, including tips for preparing your reading copy and practicing your delivery. I recently offered Best Practices for Timekeeping at Conference Panels and Mark has written about Going Paperless at Conferences, both for his presentation and his notes as an audience member.

Logistics and Well-Being

In Getting Ready for Conferences Mark reminds us to consider the various logistics of what we need to pack and bring for a conference. Brian offers a detailed account of the technology he uses for public presentations from software to hardware. Heather offered A Few Strategies for Eating Well at Conferences and I suggested how to Add Exercise to Your Conference Schedule. Brian pointed out the challenge conferences and academic workshops poses to family life in How do You Hack Families and Academic Travel and solicited reader feedback.

Among the many ProfHacker posts on travel that might be relevant for your next conference trip: Kathleen offers tips for avoiding Lost Luggage; Erin writes about Using Tripit to Organize Travel; and I revealed What’s in [my] Bag: Travel Edition.

Social Media Before, During, and After the Conference

As tweeting at conferences has become more common (in some fields anyway), various concerns have been raised about the professional ethics and etiquette of participating in a conference backchannel. Adeline’s Open Thread post on Best Practices for Live-Tweeting Conferences includes links to guides to best practices written by scholars in different fields as well as some critiques of this use of social media.

Anastasia’s Presenting for Twitter at Conferences points out that the intellectual and informational value that Twitter provides both to the in-person conference attendees and those observing via social media depends not only on the audience members. She says “The presenters can play a big role in determining how accessible their work is to those looking in” and offers concrete suggestions about how to encourage people to tweet about your presentation if that’s something you would like to do. Erin has written about Choosing #Hashtags which can help make your particular panel session and your conference as a whole more available to interested users.

Katy Meyers’s guest post Using Twitter and QR Codes at Conferences describes how, as a presenter in a poster session, she used QR codes to link to her project website and CV and contact information.

Guest poster Derek Bruff offers suggestions for why and how to Encourage a Conference Backchannel on Twitter and George addresses questions of technology and inclusion via twitter at conferences.

How about you? What advice do you have for making the most of academic conferences?

[Creative Commons licensed image by University of Exeter on flickr]

Return to Top