I nearly always blog about my conferences. It seems to be almost ingrained in me and dates back to those times when as a new professional I was often attending conferences on bursaries or through sponsorship.
The UXLib conference was a conference with a difference and I feel is worth two posts. It was intense, challenging, and most importantly based on real practice and fieldwork. It is possibly one of the most useful conferences I've ever attended and has left me with a toolbox that I will not only return to time and time again, but hopefully share with others. It was also the first time I've been punted down a river with champagne and hopefully the last time I've presented to a lecture theatre knowing my fly was undone, so memorable for lots of reasons!
I'm going to blog about these tools UXLibs has given me in my next post. But first I'm going to reflect on some of the things I took out of the conference as an individual.
The first thing I realised, and realised very quickly, is that I've got used to being a leader, being to looked for direction and that it's taken some serious reflection to be able to step back into the role of an individual working as part of a team. And even though I was aware of it, even though I made a conscious effort to take that step back, to not dominate, to allow others to shine and not interrupt, I'm not all that sure I was totally successful. So sorry guys. I did try.
Conversely, I've also found that I'm still not totally happy around people. It's not about strangers. I'm not backwards about being forwards. I can join a group of peers within the library world, introduce myself and network, something which five years ago I would have found nerve wracking. But force me to be with those people, hour after hour. Put me in a situation where I have no option, where the company is constant. Then I do not do well. Hence me fleeing the scene before coffee after the first conference dinner and my total absence at the second. I'm sure Queens' College was lovely but you couldn't have paid me to attend that night. That night I recouped, gathered my energy, wrote an outraged email about the idiocy of faffy furniture and genius bars and emerged the next day much more able to face the challenges of the final group work and pitches. I am positive I would not have made it through without that space I allowed myself and I am especially thankful to the three people that, each in their own way, made it a safe and acceptable thing for me to do.
I also know that presenting still terrifies me. But I'm old enough and wise enough to recognise that even though it is a scary scary thing, I'm not totally terrible at it. Hence why I volunteered without any fuss. After UXLibs I also know that I don't need to spend days preparing for a presentation, that I can be effective with little preparation, as long as the material is my own and I believe in what I am saying. And you can be sure I believed in BookConnect!!
I still wave my hands around a little (a lot) and I have a tendency to wander, but I'm coherent and can recover and if necessary adapt. Not bad for a girl who spent the first few years of her vocal life in speech therapy and a significant part of her life being asked (if they were nice) or teased (if they weren't) about a lisp or strange accent. I'm not such the whispered advice I received just before I presented was entirely helpful, but at least it made me laugh. What did help was knowing my key points inside out and having enough background information to link these together in a coherent way.
I hope I contributed in a positive way to Team Navy Seals. I'm fairly sure I did, even if I could be a stubborn and argumentative twit on occasion. I'm gutted that after sneaking through to the finals we lost out to the Hazy Purples (a much better name I think) but given the uncertainty with which Navy Seals started the ideation stage it was a pleasant surprise to get through at all. In the end I think we were robbed but there's always next year to fight another battle.