I thought I might be all blogged out after my marathon blogging sessions during the NCCPE conference, yet I find myself sat on a train home thinking about the value of conferences.
I have mentioned it a couple of times already but following the advice of Dr Eureka Henkel, wear what is comfortable. No one judges you by what you wear at a conference (as long as you aren’t incredibly scruffy).
So I am feeling inspired by the NCCPE conference, in many ways, but one of the key things that struck me is that I didn’t feel like I wanted a nap after lunch! (Apologies to other conferences I have attended by saying this, please follow my point.). Each session was not a lecture from someone just explaining their research at me. Now this is a side effect of it being a public engagement conference but really we should all be learning from this anyway. The only time I just sat and listened was in the plenary sessions and even then there was some form of audience interaction. The rest of the conference comprised of workshops, storytelling and seminars. The poster session was accompanied by a series of “entertaining” demonstrations of research engagement projects including a science ceilidh and crawling through the dark to explore you ideas. Now these sessions were accompanied by some Buck’s Fizz and nibbles which may have helped people relax into having a good time. The fact that everyone there was involved in public engagement in some way and that kind of person has a “get up and give it a try” attitude also helps.
I have come away with a wealth of ideas and useful information. Now I need to pass some of that on.
Earlier in the year I decided to take on a “why not” attitude. This has lead to me putting forward my ideas and research to a couple of conferences, including this one. I aimed high, having just been to the conference I had been placed correctly, and I presented a poster. But if I hadn’t aimed high I might not have been selected for anything at all. At a previous conference where I presented a poster I wasn’t sure of the value of what I was doing. People read the poster, they commented and we discussed and that was it. I can only hope they took away something of my ideas and research and maybe thought about them a little further. This time the discussions were more in depth, there was conversation on putting my findings into practice and could I speak to others about it at another time. It could be a that I found my audience for my research here. Saying that my two examples are the Visitor Studies Group, and NCCPE. It shouldn’t be a million miles different in my opninon.
As well as my personal achievements, the sessions I attended were incredibly useful. There were a lot of sessions to choose from but I think I managed to find ones that I related to well. If you read my previous posts from the conference I think you can get the impression of how much I took away. At previous conferences I have also felt inspired, but not quite to this extent, or at least to not quite this extent with this much understanding. I would like to think that I have gone into some of the museum studies conferences with the knowledge and understanding that I have going into this one with, and it is just a case of confidence.
My point in all this is go to conferences, try and take part, don’t just go and be a passive audience member. There are a lot of people across the country who are interested in what you are doing. They have the same passion about their field of research or subject as you do and are waiting to tell you about it. If you go ready to listen as well as tell, you will have a wonderful time. You should also make a few friends on the way,