New Reflections on Old Invites

Well it’s been and gone. That merry band of a few who drop by to look at these posts might remember a post about that time I was actually invited to do a speaking thing at a conference.

You’ll also recall (or find out for the first time if you go back and look at that link) that I had a series of things to try and do. A sort of half-baked labours of Academic Faux-Hercules to try and achieve generic brand immortality with (not even the good kind of generic brand; more like the type of generic brand you know is going to break really soon and not match the ‘immortality’ label).

This then is my part-time academic scorecard, to be subsequently known as my PTAS review to make it fit academic lingo more easily.

Did I Embrace Unwanted Things?

I did the planned talk on that happy little lump of offal, the liver. And the morning tea spring rolls didn’t get flung at my head (this is a bonus because I checked and they don’t spring).

I do feel like I worked harder to find a way to make this talk work for the audience than I might have if I chose my own topic. Who am I to judge though? I turned it into a blog post for the Songs or Stories site here. All feedback welcome.

Score: The unwanted thing at least got a pat on the shoulder and a thumbs up, rather than a full body embrace. That’s more acceptable socially though so I give it a pass.

A slightly less athletic thumbs up than this, but still.

A slightly less athletic thumbs up than this, but still.

Did I work hard as a speaker?

Well I turned up. I rehearsed each talk a bunch of times, which is definitely an aim. For each talk I produced an accompanying referenced post online. Oh, and for the social media talk I rehearsed with my new co-presenter, we set up a loose script in advance, worked on a joint slide deck, advocated for more tech infrastructure and spent hours trying to set up a Livestream thing.

So I worked a bit, but also felt like I actually contributed to the program rather than just being there.

Score: Pass as measured by a face full of soft cheese in the airport lounge when I fell asleep.

Did I do better talks?

Always hard to measure from inside the belly of the beast (the same reason you don’t trust Jonah’s assessment the size of the whale that swallowed him I guess). I definitely delivered more closely to the style of talk I’d like, but I need more feedback from the punters.

Score: Still waiting for the verdict of the jury after they settle on which takeaway they’ll order for dinner.

Did I do the conference?

I spoke to people. I spoke to people I hadn’t met electronically before even. I shared meals. I heard new stories. I did not talk to anybody from a company that sells stuff (could call that as positive or negative).

It is massively easier to do this when you’re surrounded by “your type of people”. You know, the other people out there who like giving controlled substances to babies. We think the same.

Was I super proactive like the real pros are? Probably not. I’m not sure what the colour of the paint in the corners of the room was though.

Score: Pass, in that I was at least a fish swimming randomly around trying not to bump into things, not floating belly up. In the corner.

Did I seek opportunities?

Well speaking to people was a start. And I’ve shared a couple of things in follow-up. Did I come up with any definite collaborations? Well, not really. Those things can take a bit of time though, right?

Let’s assume it’s a starter for the sort of earthy sourdough bread where you end up hanging onto that starter for multiple generations of a family and at least one armed uprising. (Yes, I like my sourdough with a hint of frontier gunpowder.)

The one area we did really take up some opportunities was in the social media talk. The real highlight of this was the involvement of people online in the Twitter stream who made an effort to help “just because”. This really demonstrated that there are some amazing and supportive people out there (setting an alarm at 02:00 in Canada to chip in to a Twitter stream is a pretty amazing effort).

Oh, and a guy in Sydney live illustrating the session and sending it back to us. I’ve wanted to do that for 2 years.

Score: Would be a fail if measured today, but hoping it’s a slow burn.

This is the very cool work by Gavin Blake at Fever Picture for the Social Media session - scribed in real time from Sydney while we were in Johannesburg.

This is the very cool work by Gavin Blake at Fever Picture for the Social Media session – scribed in real time from Sydney while we were in Johannesburg.

All up, I’m better at being a person who talks and conferences for going to this conference. Of course, you’re only as good as your last gig. So do you leave on a high, or go around again?



As I mentioned above, I produced a post for each talk. I think this offers a lot more for the audience, as you can embed some references and links that might actually be useful and the talk can live beyond the 30 minutes. It was a bunch of extra work, but for conference sessions I think I’d try to do this again. My examples are:

The Liver Talk

The Aid Trip and Practice Development Talk

The Social Media Talk (this one also includes a link to the Livestream event we created for it, though we eventually broke the connection with a couple of minutes left).

The image for the thumbs up was posted to Flickr Creative Commons by the US Navy and is produced  unchanged.






One thought on “New Reflections on Old Invites

  1. Pingback: The Number | The Flying PhD

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