Those who can, do (but don’t forget teach too!)

Gillian Davis

Assistant Director (Timetabling and Examinations), Registry | University of Birmingham

I love that Higher Education is full of innovators.  It’s in the blood. I think it comes from working so closely with academic colleagues whose role in life is to ask ‘why’.  I too have gritted my teeth through plenty of meetings where I have been asked that very question one too many times, but ultimately I know it makes us better at what we do.

The other thing I love about HE is the way we share.  We’re rarely precious about what we’re doing and the sense of collective support through shared challenges is something I’ll never take for granted.  Sharing can be hard though – both to learn about what other colleagues are doing, and to shout about what you are doing. Don’t fear though, that’s what the AUA Conference is for!

The AUA Conference is a ready-made platform for sharing and learning, and the absolute joy is that putting on a session couldn’t be easier.  It can be as fancy or as pure as you like, and I even collaborated with some colleagues so that the work of preparing and presenting was shared (and totally in line with the conference theme of ‘collaboration’).

A couple of tips I picked up along the way (as a presenter and attendee), that might be helpful:

1. What’s the message?
Your focus should be on how your work will be useful to other people.  Focus on the problems and hurdles and how you overcame them, or the amazing discoveries and how you have implemented them. If you are talking at the AUA Conference you are talking to a bunch of knowledgeable, skilled, and engaged people – skip the amuse bouche and get straight to the main course!

2. How could you make it terrible?
Think about the talks you’ve been to that were awful.  Slow, off-topic, too much talk, unreadable slides… Got it? Now simply do the opposite!

3. Leave lots of time for questions
There will be questions, lots and lots of questions; this is where the best sharing happens so leave plenty of time. Questions are also great because you don’t need to plan for 1 full hour of content! Once you’ve covered the headlines and given people enough to get interested in, let the audience guide you on what they want to hear more about.

And finally, never forget that you work in education. If you are doing something new, innovative, different, or just plain interesting it is your duty to teach others about it!

Are you interested in delivering a session at an AUA conference? We are currently running a call for session proposals for our Autumn Conference 2021. Find out more and submit a proposal here.


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