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Author Topic: Conference invite and expertise level  (Read 6250 times)
soymilk
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« on: May 12, 2012, 3:52:26 PM »

I just presented at a conference focused on disease X, when most of my work is in condition Y. Additionally, I'm a social scientist who studies psychosocial issues related to condition Y, but I don't see patients or do any clinical work.
  Despite all of this, I managed to put together a fairly decent presentation for a lay audience on social issues related to disease X (it helped that many illness issues have common challenges in terms of social support-disease management, etc.). I pulled this off by consulting with colleagues and family members who had a lot of familiarity with disease X. I even had some composite case studies put together based on these conversations.
However, I am wondering for the future just how far I should  be stretching my expertise. If I didn't have a physician on the panel to address some very specific clinical issues that came up during Q&A, I would have been really in a bind.
So, I am interested in the experience of others--how do you decide on presentation requests?

 
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yellowtractor
Vice-Provost of the University of the South-East Corner of Donkeyshire (formerly Donkeyshire Polytechnic) (a Post-1992 University) and also a
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« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2012, 9:12:05 PM »

Wait--do I take it that you were invited to present at this conference?  And that you had to do some stretching to come up with an appropriate presentation (albeit one you were, in the end, satisfied with)?

I get one or two such requests a year--I mean, for presentations that would cause me to do some stretching, which means they would involve a lot of time-consuming additional prep work.  When I was on the tenure track, my main criterion was how much time the "stretching" (preparing a special presentation that would bridge my work with the conference/panel topic) would take vs. how good the conference credit would look on my CV.

Now that I'm tenured, I've simply been judging by whether I'm even interested in stretching, in building that bridge:  whether it will advance my own work, or whether it's simply a black hole of prep time and travel.

When I am asked in this sort of way, and I think I might be interested, I ask all sorts of questions about venue, audience, who the other panelists will be, etc., to make sure that my work really will fit in.
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It is, of course, possible that what I remember as terror was only a love too great to bear.
soymilk
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Posts: 142


« Reply #2 on: May 13, 2012, 8:11:27 PM »

Wait--do I take it that you were invited to present at this conference?  And that you had to do some stretching to come up with an appropriate presentation (albeit one you were, in the end, satisfied with)?

Yes, this is correct. In the end, it was an interesting experience that exposed me to some challenges related to an area I would otherwise not have explored. Because of what I learned--mostly from the challenges discussed by audience members after the talk--I may pursue this further as a research area. However, the process was nerve wracking--they told me the audience would be in the range of 300-400, which was (fortunately for my stage fright with very large audiences) wildly optimistic. The audience ended up around 40 or so, which I feel is well within my previous experience as a speaker. I am tenured now, so I kept telling myself that this little speech didn't matter. However, I still had some pre-speech anxiety in the days leading up to the event. Once I'm up there on the podium and very prepared, I seem to do fine, or at least as best as can be expected given my expertise level.
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