This morning, my Facebook feed informed me that there were just two weeks to go to the start of Congress 2018. Two weeks and I haven’t really started to think about how I can make the best of this event’s offerings. I’ve been caught up in the rush of organising a trip overseas in 12 weeks time and had put Congress on the back burner, thinking I had plenty of time to ensure everything was in place. Silly me!
There’s a list being compiled regarding names people are researching – do I need to add any of my names to the list? Which line would benefit most from some in depth research? Which is the most pressing brick wall? Should I consider seeking help/connections/references that will enhance my overseas trip? Which lectures and presentations should I see?
There are almost too many questions to answer!
Faced with all this, I decided that I should apply some of the skills I use every day when researching family and local histories – and start a Congress 2018 equivalent of a Research Log. So what would this entail?
- Preparing my questions
- Consider the resources available through the Congress 2018 programme
- Contact fellow researchers ahead of time and make appropriate appointments
- Prepare a Congress 2018 timeline
- Check I have all my bookings in place, appropriate equipment packed including my Blogger Beads
- Check my diary for times I have committed to attend social engagements, meets and appointments
- Breathe. Breathe. Smile and last of all, breathe.
Jill (GeniAus) reminded us recently about those who posted blog reports on Congress 2015 – there wasn’t a great deal to be seen on my site. My resolutions about posting daily went out the window as there was so much to do and see, there seemed little time to reflect. I admit to being a little busier on Twitter throughout the event but even that interaction fell short of my self imposed expectations.
Events like these can be overwhelming – there is so much to take in, so many people to meet and so much information to absorb – that all you want to do at the end of the day is to give your brain a rest before the next day’s onslaught.
In the past, I have felt that I have not been a good attendee if I didn’t attend every available session in the event’s timetable. I’ve sat through some less than adequate presentations and come away feeling cheated of time I could have spent more productively elsewhere. I’ve enjoyed some amazing speakers yet felt rushed to get to the next place and consequently not able to fully absorb, reflect and respond to a brilliant presentation. This Congress will be different – I plan to be selective and to give myself time to really enjoy the material/speakers/presentations that are relevant to me which means I am likely to sit out a few sessions.
Why would I do this?
The filing cabinet of my brain is full to bursting – something has to give. I want to make best use of the time and the expertise on offer so I am going to be choosy and what I will choose will reflect Point 1 up above – the questions to which I want to try and find answers will guide my lecture/presentation choices. If there’s not something offered in a particular time slot that may answer any of my questions, then I’l do one of two things. I’ll find a quiet spot, grab something to eat or drink and reflect on what I have done so far or perhaps chat with someone who’s also sitting out a session. Otherwise I’ll follow up what I have just learned with a bit of connected research or writing up of notes or discussing my particular question with a likely helper.
Attending any sort of conference is not just about sitting and listening to experts as much as we appreciate their skill and time. For me, its about where it can take you during the conference and after those experts have shared their wisdom. There are times I have found where you need to make immediate steps in your own research as a result of something you have learned as its all too easy to lose that great hint or other light bulb moment if you don’t attend to it straight away.
For me, during this Congress, there will be the equivalent of play breaks where I spend some time exploring leads, crashing through those brick walls and discovering some of those answers.