Dealing With Conference FOMO

By Shannon Kazmierczak

We have all been there: the Fear Of Missing Out on all of the fun your co-workers are having at library-related conferences.  Some of you might have been feeling the FOMO these past couple of weeks, between ILA in Tinley Park and the PLA symposium at the Harold Washington Library.  Some of you have felt this in the past, especially when the conferences are somewhere amazing, like New Orleans or San Diego (no offense, Peoria, IL).

What can we do but feel sullen working extra shifts at the patron-facing desk while watching #insertlibraryconferencehere trending on Twitter? We praise our co-workers from afar for the amazing job they have been doing during their poster sessions and presentations, wishing we could be there supporting them in person. We think about the connections they are making and all of the geeking out that might occur when you get a whole bunch of library professionals together in a room. You wonder what amazing giveaways the booths have in the exhibit halls and if the buffet lunch was all it was cracked up to be. You admire the cute clothes and flair they are wearing and fangirl (or boy) at a blogger you follow, author you adore, or other librarian who has made a name for themselves in this world. Meanwhile, your co-workers have no idea what drama you’ve been putting up with at the desk because they are having the time of their lives!

Don’t worry, there is a cure for FOMO and it’s called ECG-WISH, Engaging Conference Goers While It’s Still Hot. (I just made that up, can you tell?)

When you see your co-workers coming back refreshed, revived and ready for whatever a patron, a publisher, or a board member might throw at them (sometimes quite literally); do your best to engage with them while they are still on that collaborative high! Ask to see the paperwork they brought back with them and make copies. Encourage them to discuss the best takeaways they can provide you with while the information is still fresh in their mind. If your supervisors, or if you are a supervisor, require a report following the event be provided, read it with earnest.  Research the ideas, become a follower of the presenters Instagram/Twitter/Facebook accounts that are mentioned. 

I know that some of the bigger libraries are fortunate enough to have the budget to send people to the larger conferences that require travel or overnights. But don’t let those roadblocks prevent you from some of the really amazing webinars and local seminars that are out there to provide you with continuing education that we so need in our line of work.

While you sit on the sidelines, waiting to be called in to be the next person to get to a conference, remember, those conference days are exhausting.  Your co-workers will come back to follow up on emails, phone calls, and whatever else they missed and you can sit back and enjoy the fruits of their labor.

Conference Presenting Tips

By Allison Riggs

With ILA’s annual conference fast approaching in October, presenters are beginning to prepare for their sessions. Will you be presenting at a professional conference sometime soon? Will it be your first time being on a panel? I presented for the first time at the 2017 IYSI conference and it was nerve-racking. Although I was not perfect, I learned a lot and want to share that with other first-time presenters.

Here’s a few tips for a successful conference presentation:

  1. Quadruple check all slides and handouts for typos. No one is perfect, but excessive typos can look unprofessional. Reading your slides and handouts out loud and having someone who is not presenting with you look over your materials can make all the difference.
  2. Bring physical examples if you can. If not, detailed photos are helpful. Depending on the topic you are presenting on, bringing a real-life example of whatever you are talking about would be awesome.  We did this when I presented, and people liked being able to see what we were talking about and to get the chance to take their own photos.
  3. Bring your business cards. When I first presented, I was a Librarian Assistant and not yet finished with my MSLIS degree, and therefore I didn’t have any business cards. Although others were happy to give me their cards, it would have been nice to be able to hand out my own card to someone that was interested in our presentation. We did include our contact information on our presentation handout, but not having a business card could have led to a missed networking opportunity.
  4. Wear work attire, but also be comfortable. You obviously want to look professional, but you also want to be comfortable and not have to worry about any wardrobe issues. Try on and pick out your outfit in advance and it will be one less thing to worry about.
  5. Practicing the entire presentation at least once in some way before you present. I hate to admit it, but we didn’t do this the first time I presented, and our timing was off. We ended up rushing through the end and not spending enough time on the things we really wanted to discuss. This time we plan to each practice our own section so that we can ensure we cover all the topics equally, while still leaving enough time for questions at the end.

I hope you find some of these tips helpful. If you are presenting at an upcoming conference, I wish you all the luck! I will be presenting at this year’s ILA annual conference, and since I am still relatively new at presenting, I would appreciate any advice you have for me as well.