I attended the inaugural ARLG Conference last week in Newcastle, both as a presenter and a delegate. In this post, I am going to write about workshops I presented. I will write a second post about what I attended as a delegate.
I was presenting a workshop with my manager and e-Learning Manager, about student experience, expectations and how we meet them. As we are relatively local to Newcastle (an hour's drive away) we were asked if we would present the session twice.
The first workshop we did was in the Workshop 1 slot, so early in the Conference after the first keynote speech. I was quite nervous about it, as circumstances at work had meant we had prepared the workshop but not had time to practice. We had each practiced our own bits individually but it was not the preparation we had wanted it to be.
At first the attendees were relatively quiet and I couldn't decide if this was because they were tired from travelling, unsure of interacting more or just plain bored. Once the session got into full flow and they started doing the tasks we'd set, they became more animated.
The second workshop we did was in the Workshop 3 slot, mid - late morning of the second day. It was held in a different room to the first one and had a stage / podium for the presenters. This I found daunting and slightly uncomfortable.
My style of presenting is that I physically point to things that are displaying on the electronic whiteboard e.g. particular things in my Powerpoint or where the login button is for a database etc. In this room the whiteboard was high on the wall and unreachable, so I had to modify my style by describing which part of my slide I was talking about. Also as my physical position was static, I felt I was hidden behind the PC and desk and when asked questions from the left hand side of the room (as I looked at it) felt as though I was peering out from behind the PC. It doesn't help that i'm not very tall.
Whilst the stage made the presenter easier to see for the audience, it made me notice how much attention is focussed on the presenters. The elevated status of the stage compared to the floor level definitely draws attention. I feel much more comfortable at floor level where, although you are centre of attention as presenter, you don't feel as noticeable.
The attendees at this session were straight away more interactive than in the first session, I think because they were more comfortable with the dynamics of the Conference by this point. This put me more at ease on the stage. I did have a chance to get in amongst the audience during the tasks and this helped to break down any remaining barriers. This session I felt went better than the first one, as it had more contributions from the attendees.
In the end both sessions were successful with good contributions and discussions from the attendees. They were though very different due to the timing and the rooms.