Finding success in Academic Conferences
What is an academic conference?
Academic conferences are the gatherings where scholars assemble to share their insights, learn latest advancements and address the challenges in the are of their expertise. These gathering doesn’t include only the experts. It also comprises students, budding researchers private practitioners, Media houses etc...
They come in various shapes and sizes. There may be a number of sessions during conferences. Typical formats include the following:
- Keynote presentations – Often referred as Prime session of the event, involved a talk by an eminent person belonging to the particular area of research.
- Panel sessions – Various talks presented by the speakers on the topics decided prior to the conference.
- Poster sessions – This session involves the Pictorial representation of a research work using the Graphical work (Poster) presented by the researcher to the crowd.
- Conference paper presentations – Researchers present a paper and get feedback. These are usually grouped into topics or parallel streams.
It's a great way to grow your research career by attending academic conferences. They offer the opportunity to network and meet new peers or co-authors, hear about the latest developments in science, and consider the field's larger picture.
For the first time, however, the prospect of attending conferences may be daunting. If you're presenting your work at the conference, you'll have new names to remember, new concepts to grasp, and feedback to embrace. We'll lead you through some of the main things to consider in this post to get the most out of conferences.
How to choose which conferences to go to
With so many different conferences to choose from, and with sometimes limited time and resources, you need to think carefully about which ones you can get the most out of.
Speak to your peers as they may be able to share recommendations on the conferences they have attended and found most useful. Ask your supervisor about choices for funding, too, as this may impact your choice. Some funding for research will include budget to attend conferences and disseminate the work, so it is worth investigating opportunities to participate in the program. Try attending newer conferences as your feed backs will be taken seriously and you will have a opportunity in guiding them and maybe sometimes future collaborations.
How to network at a conference
If you have friends that you would like to meet at the meeting, contact them in advance and schedule the time to meet. In order to make the discussion as fruitful as possible, consider what you want to get out of the meeting. Looking for an article with them to co-author? Want to receive feedback on your paper? Do you see their institution opening up a job you want to find out more about? It can also be useful to connect to them beforehand via LinkedIn or to follow them on Twitter.
Social media can be a key way of building networks at conferences – before, during, and after.
Most conferences have a conference hashtag (e.g. #ABCSummit). Use this as a platform to discuss the ideas presented during the conference and to communicate during and after the conference.
Many people at conferences will enjoy networking, but it may come less naturally for others. If you are more introverted in nature, here are some tips on networking at conferences.
- Don't feel pressure to go to the entire social gathering. Carefully plan your time and make sure you refresh your factor in time.
- Arrange gatherings in smaller groups so that you can have a more detailed discussion instead of trying to meet at the conference with everyone.
- Prepare an "elevator pitch" of 30 – 60 seconds to be used during network breaks. This can be as easy as thinking about the answers to the following: What is the key question answered by your work? What's the approach you take? Why is your research relevant and what relevance does it have to the real world? Do not use specialist terminology that will not be understood by others outside the profession – not everyone at the conference may have the same academic background or expertise as you do.
Presenting at a conference
It can be a successful way to raise your profile as a researcher to present a paper at a conference. When presenting your paper at a conference, it's normal to feel nervous, particularly if you haven't done it before, so here are some tips on how to do it right:
You can do wonders for your professional profile by delivering a paper at a meeting. At the beginning of the talk, make sure you include a brief introduction to yourself. Someone in the crowd might be a potential partner, and afterwards you want to make it easy for them to contact you.
Simple the better :
- The easiest presentations are often the most engaging, so you might want to concentrate on one aspect of your analysis instead of trying to present the full study.
- Using simpler language that will make you feel comfortable speaking out loud, knowing that you are giving a presentation that doesn't read an article.
- Practice prior to the event, making sure you stick to your allocated time limit.
Tips for handling the Q&A session
Many people consider the question-and-answer session to be the most scary part of a presentation. Here are some important things to keep in mind:
- Note that you are the most knowledgeable person in your study, most likely you will have a better understanding of the questions than you might expect.
- If you can't answer every question, don't worry. Thank them for asking the question and then following it up with them. Chances are they will be happy that you take the time to investigate the issue and continue the conversation.
- Use the feedback to make your research even better.
Conference poster tips
Poster sessions are another way for academic conferences to discuss the work. These often occur during breaks or lunch during networking and typically there are multiple people showing their poster at once. As with conference paper presentations, it can be a great way to share your research and raise its visibility by presenting a poster session. Here are a few do's and don't make them work:
- Prepare your research for a 2-3-minute summary or elevator pitch, then use it to guide people through your poster.
- Be willing to speak to a wide audience. Not everyone will be familiar with the subject, so think about how to describe your work to someone outside the sector.
- Ignore the design. Consider about what graphics are going to draw passers-by and make them want to know more. To help make it easy to read and understand, use bullet points, headings, and pictures.
- Make it too heavy for text. Your poster should be a visual aid, not a complete information page. Make sure that text can be read a few meters away.