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Recordings & resources on preparing a conference proposal

To celebrate the opening of NLS9 conference proposal submissions, ALIAWest and the WA ALIA Students & New Graduates collaborated on a special Ask & Answer Club event on conference proposal preparation.

The evening kicked off on a celebratory note, as Lizelle Smith was presented with her second ALIA Certified Professional Certificate! Congratulations Lizelle!

We then watched a screening of the fabulous ALIA SA 'How to write a conference proposal' panel recording, in which Heather Brown, Kate Sergeant and Katrina Williams shared their conference proposal advice. You can watch this recording and the other state events on the NLS9 webpage, and you can access the workshop worksheets here.

Two experience conference presenters, Helen Balfour from Murdoch University and Katie Mills from the University of Western Australia, then shared their top conference preparation tips.

Katie’s top 3 tips for preparing a conference proposal
1. Partner up: Collaborate with a colleague or mentor to workshop your proposal idea and draft the submission. Collaborating with someone else will also allow you to play to your strengths and share the workload – for example, perhaps your colleague is a fantastic writer while you might prefer presenting.

2. Do your homework: Ensure that you conduct a thorough literature review so that you understand how your idea sits within the exisiting literature on the topic. It's all good to have an idea, but you need to be able to show how your idea is adding to the conversation, rather than repeating what has already been said. Also review past papers from the conference to get a feel for the tone and amount of detail required.

3. Tweet-sized takeaways: When structuring your presentation, segment your main points into tweetable dot points on each slide, to allow your audience to easily identify and tweet the key takeaways. Make sure you include your Twitter handle on your paper and presentation slides too! You can also schedule tweets so that they go out during your presentation, which will allow attendees to engage with you on Twitter (more followers!) and engage with your key messages.

Helen’s Top 3 tips for preparing a conference proposal
1. When I’m doing project work or something different at work, I keep a record of ideas I have for papers. Then, if I see if the right conference for presenting one of them comes up, then I’ll begin to develop the idea.

2. I go with papers that I think others will want to read. I think how can I grab people’s attention, and how can the work I’ve done benefit other information professionals. I choose something I’ve done that’s worked well, or some kind of practitioner research I’ve done with results I want to share with a wider audience.

3. Then come up with a catchy title, which draws people in to want to find out more. Write your abstract, making sure you follow the guidelines for submission and submit. It’s often good to get someone else to read your abstract to check for clarity. If you’re accepted, write the paper first, then prepare your slides and write your speech last. When presenting – know your talk – engage with the audience and speak from the heart!

Remember, when looking around for conferences, it doesn't have to be a library conference - there are plenty of allied fields where your library knowledge and skills could be easily transferable and valuable to their audiences.

We'd love to hear about your conference experiences, so be sure to connect with us on Facebook and Twitter to share your thoughts!

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