When I saw that the Wisconsin Land Information Association’s 2011 Annual Conference call for participation is out (abstracts due November 30), I started this story as a simple announcement that would amount to “the call is out, go here to submit.” But it morphed into a commentary as I started to think about what I might present next year when the conference comes to Madison on February 16th – 18th.
Like usual, I go through my list of potential ideas, but then I start to wonder… would anybody really have an interest in these topics? I suspect many of you reading this also go through the same bit of self-doubt when it comes to submitting a conference presentation abstract.
Why is that, I wonder?
From my own experience, presenting at WLIA, or any conference for that matter, is a great way to pull people out of the woodwork in ways you might not expect. In addition to getting constructive feedback on the topic(s) you cover, you’ll likely connect with people trying to solve exactly the same problems. Yes, it’s true that we all work in very different organizations, but I’m always amazed that so many of us are trying to solve variations of the same problems.
While delivering a presentation might seem like a scary proposition to some of you, stretching a tad outside your comfort zone is a great way to develop professionally. I’ve done a lot of conference presentations, but I still have a lot to learn, and I’d like to think I get little better at it each time. Presentation skills are something that all of us can improve, so you shouldn’t be nervous about it if you are just starting out.
Yes, putting together a presentation takes work and sometimes you have to convince the higher-ups in your organization that conference attendance is a worthwhile use of your time, especially with the tight budgets nearly everyone is experiencing. But tell your boss that it’s not a one way deal… you’ll learn as much from the audience as they will from you.
There you have it, my own personal attempt at a u-rah-rah speech! Seriously though, consider submitting a WLIA abstract this year… there is no reason to hesitate. You will benefit, and so will the audience.