On the 24th of April, postgraduate students from across the various campuses and faculties of University of Wales Trinity St David gathered together on a rainy morning in Swansea to share their current research on a broad range of topics, ranging from manufacturing processes for medical implants and archaeology to employee engagement. The diverse range of topics discussed gave all of us participating in the event a chance to see what kind of research is being conducted at the university beyond our own academic pursuits. It was a fantastic event (the free food didn’t hurt) and was a great way of easing into the terrifying world of conference presentations and the dreaded Public Speaking in a friendly, receptive environment. I learned a great deal from the event, both in terms of the kinds of research being done and approaches being employed across the wider university, but also in terms of presenting and speaking in front of a room full of people. These can be summed up most succinctly as:
- Don’t spend all your time researching your topic/doing other work/procrastinating only to leave the actual write-up until the last possible minute
1a. Don’t finish writing your presentation on the two-hour bus ride to the venue.
- PowerPoints are hard – how much text is too much? especially at 10 PM the night before and your case study still isn’t written up
- Rehearse your presentation, lest you be a stuttering mess (having a printed copy is also a bonus, as opposed to reading off a laptop)
These are relatively straightforward, obvious tips that I knew perfectly well beforehand, but there’s nothing like experience to teach you a lesson. In all seriousness, preparation is key, and I noticed the difference between how comfortable I was in front of a small audience, and how comfortable everyone else was. While I wouldn’t say I was underprepared, I would do some things differently, but given this was my first go at presenting a conference paper I think things went extremely well, and additional experience can only help.
The opportunity to get a feel for what other researchers are doing was also an excellent one, as it can become all too easy to develop tunnel vision regarding your studies and ignore all else. It’s always good to have a chance to stick your head above the parapet so to speak and get re-acquainted with the wider university research community outside of the walls of your faculty, campus, or library of choice.
The conference was great fun to listen and talk to other postgraduate researchers in other fields, and I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity to have participated and for Dr Huw Millward and Nicola Powell for putting the day together.