Attending an academic conference is probably one of the most rewarding ventures you can undertake during your time as a scholar. Academic conferences allow you to interact with fellow researchers as well as tap into a huge pool of knowledge by listening to their presentations.
Attending conferences can seem daunting, but if you put your best foot forward you stand to gain a lot, such as:
- Getting inspiration for your own research ideas.
- Getting exposure to various presentation styles.
- Meeting and interacting with the experts in your field.
- Honing your skills and gaining more confidence.
Holding one on one conversations with colleagues can also prove mighty fruitful. Making your own presentation at conferences will also help you grow in planning, pitching, and public speaking, among other aspects of growth.
How to prepare to attend an academic conference.
Most scholars find themselves feeling conflicted about attending academic conferences. Should you or shouldn’t you? Well, you definitely should, and if you’re going to attend one you need to be well prepared for it too.
The earlier you start attending senior conferences, the better. You need to plan a proper presentation and practice presenting it. If you don’t have a complete case study with results, but you have a literature review, hypotheses, and a theoretical framework, you can use that to your advantage. Write an eye-catching abstract that will impress the conference selection team.
You can also try writing to the authorities in your field and propose a prearranged panel for the actual conference. This way, the experts will know you and probably accept your invitation. If either your abstract or panel is accepted, ensure you prepare your presentation before the conference. This will allow you plenty of time to network with other panels at the conference.
Advice for first timers to follow.
If you’re attending your first academic conference, you might feel intimidated by all the people who seem to know exactly what they’re doing while you have no idea what you should do. So here are a few tips you might find useful:
- Ensure you satisfy your reason for attending. Most researchers don’t primarily attend academic conferences to learn, but rather to network. So go out and do it. It might be scary at first to talk to the experts who’re already famous, but push yourself out of your comfort zone keeping in mind that this might be the only chance you’ll ever get to meet them.
- If you see people having a conversation that you’d like to join, just move up to them politely and listen. A good way to insert yourself into conversations is to ask questions because the respondents will be compelled to answer.
- Keep a close watch on the bulletin board for opportunities to do things that might interest you.
- Help others. If you network with somebody who you know a colleague is interested in meeting, introduce them to each other. Most likely, they’ll return the favor or if not, they’ll always remember your kind gesture.
Whenever an opportunity arises for you to attend an academic conference, it would be best for you to take it. Not only is it a wise decision for your career, but also a good way to challenge yourself out of your comfort zone.