I’ve not been to many conferences before, and I was extremely excited about this one as knowing it would be full of other health library staff made it less daunting than the annual CILIP conference. The first thing that I found really welcoming was the informal meet-up prior to booking in. This was a great opportunity to meet people who were attending in a very relaxed way. This is something I will look out for when attending future events as it was a gentle welcoming to the conference, and I met really lovely people there who I ended up spending most of my time at the conference with. Thanks Helen Kiely for organising the meet-up, I know a lot of people found it very useful (even if it was just to have a quick bite before the conference began).
Throughout the two days, one of the first things that came out of my mouth when having conversations with people was “I’m absolutely petrified to present!”. Probably not one of the best things to admit to someone you’ve never met before, but I honestly felt it almost alleviated my fears as each person I told, I felt a little less nervous. I know to seasoned speakers, talking for 15 minutes to a small room of people sounds like nothing, but I genuinely was terrified. If I can offer any advice to anyone who feels anything like the way I did then my words of advice are to practice plenty, pretend to be confident while delivering the presentation (fake it till you make it!), take deep breaths throughout and don’t worry if you forget to say everything you were meant to say. I forgot to say things during my presentation but in the questions afterwards I was able to say them. You never know, you might just end up winning some tea and an awesome book mug! Also, remember that everyone who is in the room is interested in what you have to say, so have fun with it and be yourself. I have to say the biggest thank you to everyone who attended my session, your smiles and nodding heads made me feel extremely comfortable and supported, definitely boosting my confidence for any future presentations.
A really valuable aspect of the conference was the hashtag used throughout. It was a great way of getting to know who was attending, what would be going on throughout and to see attendees’ reflections afterwards. I found this particularly useful when I was reflecting on my experience of presenting as reading what people were taking away from my talk was a great way to gather feedback. It provided an instant opportunity to see if the message I was trying to deliver was working, and to know that it was is a great feeling. Also, it was a good way for me to catch up on sessions which I wanted to attend but clashed with each other.
A key take away from the conference was a new sense of invigoration to become more involved in the health library networks. I finish my Library and Information Services Management MA in August so I will have a lot more free time, I plan to use this wisely by joining groups and looking to possibly create a group. During discussions after my session the suggestion of a group solely dedicated to sharing information about health and wellbeing events/developments ran in libraries was brought up, and it sounded like a great idea. So this is something I would like to be involved in and maybe in the future may have the opportunity to do so.
One thing I will do differently if I present again is be more confident in what I have to say from the beginning. I think the web-ex meetings which were on offer leading up to the conference would have been useful in helping to calm my nerves, but unfortunately I just did not have the chance to watch them. Another thing I would do differently following this is to be more confident in asking questions after sessions. I had questions which I wanted to ask after most of the sessions I attended, but nerves got the better of me about asking them. This is something I will work at as I think it will be really useful for any future events I attend.
Lastly, I would just like to say a massive thank you to everyone who was involved in planning “It’s Great up North”; I found it to be a really welcoming and useful conference experience.
Library Assistant/Acting Assistant Electronic Resources Officer
Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Event attended – It’s Great up North