Getting the most from a conference

I recently attended the national conference for LIANZA, the professional body for Library and Information staff.

It was held in Te Pae, the award winning new conference facilities in Ōtautahi/Christchurch. It was my first time attending ‘in person’ for five years so it was fantastic to catch up with old friends, former colleagues and spend a few days bouncing around ideas and enjoying the energy of 500+ of my colleagues from around the motu as we were immersed in the professional culture of our ‘tribe’.

I also did a brief presentation at this conference, and talking to a room of peers giving immediate feedback made it a vastly different experience from the online presentation I gave two years ago.

All this set me thinking, now that we have returned to in person conferences, but given increasing costs of attendance, how, as a conference delegate, can we get the most out of the time and money invested.

Conference attendance inevitably involves a significant financial outlay.  Some may be fortunate to have employers who will support or contribute to the costs.  Others may need to apply for funding via a grant,  in order to attend (often available through the organising professional body).  There may be a degree of compromise involved:  for instance an employer may be willing to pay registration costs for attendance, while the employee accepts the cost of accommodation/travel.

However it is funded, conference attendance is an investment in professional development and helps employees maintain professional relevance and currency.  An employer should expect some return on investment so how can you get the most out of a conference?

Two of the main points of conference attendance are professional development and networking.  Attending a conference is not only an opportunity to learn from others and be inspired by keynotes, but to also share your own experiences.  This can take the form of a formal presentation or through serendipitous connections with other attendees.

Whether you are a first time attendee, an experienced presenter or somewhere in between here’s some resources compiled to help you get the most out of a professional conference.


A conference for a professional body will probably involve a professional event planner.  However smaller organisations may not have the budget for this and therefore will rely on members to assist with  some or all the the planning.  One way to share your skills or acquire new ones is to get involved in the planning of the event.

Planning and managing a corporate event / Lindsey, Karen
“Includes the Ultimate Tick List, A-Z Survival Guide, 50 Top Tips and Useful Contacts. This book provides comprehensive and expert guidance on planning and managing a Warner Music Entertainment corporate event. It is written as a support text for students studying event management and to provide a practical guide for aspiring event organisers.” (Catalogue)


The event manager’s bible : how to plan and deliver an event / Conway, Des
“The complete guide to planning and organizing a voluntary or public event, this resource is filled with sage advice on everything from the objective of the event to publicizing it.” (Catalogue)



Event Planning Foundations (LinkedIn)
Released: 2/17/2018
Do you excel at bringing people together? Turn your passion for event planning into a career. Event planners are employed in every industry. They bring teams together to achieve goals, celebrate milestones, bond outside the office, and work more productively. This course will give you tips, tricks, and techniques to make your next event a success—whether it’s your first or fifty-first. Valerie Berry covers topics such as understanding your client’s objectives, selecting a venue, getting the right technology in place, negotiating a budget, and building menus. Plus, learn how to manage the thousands of details that occur in the two weeks leading to an event, and follow up afterwards to make sure your clients and your vendors are satisfied.  (Library registration required to access)

Preparing a presentation


Yes, presenting to a room full of peers is scary but it is one way of sharing your knowledge and experience with your community.

A professional conference will have a theme and will call for abstracts to be submitted for consideration months prior to the event.

Think about what you can present on, how to tie it to the theme of the conference and then prepare your abstract.  Your paper will be selected on the strength of your abstract and the writing of an abstract  (a succinct summary of your paper) is a skill.  Guidelines may well be given by the organisations but a few tips are given in these two items :

Important Tips for Writing an Effective Conference Abstract

How to Write an Abstract for a Conference

Congratulations!  Your paper has been accepted on the basis of your abstract.  Now to write the paper.  Depending on the type of paper you have selected to present you will have a time limit.

You’ll find some basic tips and tricks here : 
 Conference Paper Format and Style Guidelines

How to Write an Engaging Conference Paper and along with your paper you also need to consider the slides used to illustrate your points and help with audience engagement.

Then the moment comes to stand up, take a deep breath annnnnnndddddd ….. Present!  


The short road to great presentations : how to reach any audience through focussed preparation, inspired delivery, and smart use of technology / Reimold, Cheryl
“A practical, readable guide to delivering superior presentations Speakers bear the responsibility for communicating effectively with their audience: presenting a clear message, supporting it with well-structured explanations and examples, and delivering it with ease, grace, and good visuals.” (Catalogue)

The snowball effect : communication techniques to make you unstoppable / Bounds, Andy
“Imagine what would happen if your communication suddenly became twice as effective as it is now – in business and in life. You’d get more done, persuade others more easily, get things right first time and have better relationships. You’d be unstoppable.” (Catalogue)


Presentation skills for quivering wrecks / Etherington, Bob
“Based on a successful course delivered by the author to thousands of businesspeople, this book demonstrates how it is possible to overcome the fear of speaking in public, enabling anyone to stand up deliver a memorable presentation.” (Catalogue)


While all that can be done will be done to ensure a smooth presentation there are days when technology at least refuses to cooperate.  If things don’t go as planned, it pays to have given some thought in advance to how you may handle the situation if something goes wrong.   What to Do When Presentations Go Wrong offers tips for presenters to handle hiccups with ease. 

Presentation over, and you can now relax and enjoy networking.  Don’t overlook the power of making connections with colleagues and exhibitors. 



The rules of networking / Yeung, Rob
“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Networking has become one of the key skills for virtually anyone who wants to get on in their jobs and careers. In fact, in just about any situation, knowing the right person will get you ahead. This book provides the essential rules and secrets to successful networking. It addresses the how, why and who of networking to enable virtually anyone to grasp the key skills and do some serious networking. Far from being a God-given talent, networking is a technique that can be learnt, honed and applied to great effect. Careers consultant Rob Yeung offers savvy and practical advice on networking that will make a genuine difference to your career.” (Catalogue)

Networking for people who hate networking : a field guide for introverts, the overwhelmed, and the underconnected / Zack, Devora
“Would you rather get a root canal than face a group of strangers? Does the phrase “working a room” make you want to retreat to yours? Devora Zack, an avowed introvert and successful consultant … feels your pain. She found that other networking books assume that to succeed, you have to act like an extrovert. … Zack politely examines and then smashes to tiny fragments the “dusty old rules” of standard networking advice. She shows how the very traits that make many people hate networking can be harnessed to forge an approach more effective and user-friendly than traditional techniques. This edition adds new material on applying networking principles in personal situations, handling interview questions, following up-what do you do with all those business cards?-and more. Networking enables you to accomplish the goals that are most important to you. But you can’t adopt a style that goes against who you are-and you don’t have to. As Zack writes, “You do not succeed by denying your natural temperament; you succeed by working with your strengths.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Available in EBook Libby only

10 steps to successful social networking for business / Hartley, Darin E
“Whether you run a solo consulting practice or a worldwide enterprise, you likely use some form of social networking to connect your customer base to the services or products you offer. This book offers you a step-by-step plan to use the advantages of social networking to build brand and customer loyalty and to share organizational knowledge.” (Catalogue)

General resources

How to Rock a Conference (LinkedIn)
Create lasting connections anywhere
1h 9m
Released: 2/12/2021
In order to grow your network and advance your skills, you need to attend conferences. In this course, business expert Bianca Lager walks you through how to make the most of attending one. Bianca explains how to stand out with your personal interactions at conferences. She emphasizes the importance of preparation, presence, positivity, and setting achievable goals. Bianca goes over how you can maximize networking opportunities before, during, and after a conference. She shows you how to prepare a plan ahead of time, as well as analyze how to project power through your positivity and appearance. Bianca concludes with useful tips for those running the conference, for first-time conference attendees, and more.  (Library registration required to access)

10 Ways to Make the Most Out of a Conference
Attending conferences might be one of the best things you can do for your career. You’ll learn about industry trends, gain some new skills, and make all kinds of new connections. (And yes, there’s usually travel and free meals involved.)

How to Get the Most Out of a Conference
Rebecca Knight, Harvard Business Review online, July 2015
Conferences are an overwhelming rush of presentations, conversations, and potential meet-ups, and it can be tough to know where to focus your time. How do you figure out which sessions to attend? Should you skip the keynote to meet an important contact? How many coffee dates are too many? And what should you do if you’re an introvert who hates small talk?

If you are fortunate enough to be able to attend an international conference, the scale, particularly in the USA, can be overwhelming.  This article offers some sensible tips.

26 tips to get the most out of a conference
Use these tips to show up prepared to make the most out of your experience — before, during and after the event.

After the event, remember to share your findings.  Report back on your findings and experiences to your team, your manager or your local professional body.  You have represented your organisation on their behalf.

If you need more information please contact the Prosearch team at the library.  We can help you find information across a range of perspectives and resources.  All enquiries are treated in confidence.

Catching flies with chopsticks (or Acquiring mastery)

“Man who catch fly with chopstick, accomplish anything.
Mr Miyagi in The Karate Kid


We all know someone who appears to have effortless mastery of a skill or talent. It may be the friend who plays the piano beautifully, the colleague who is an accomplished baker, or the old schoolmate who achieved national sporting success.

While environment and natural talent may play some part, an even larger part is not natural but the result of hours of training and practice.  As The Karate Kid‘s Mr Miyagi would assert, “Practice makes perfect”.   Sensei Miyagi however also had a role imparting his years of acquired knowledge to his young protege.  Mastery extends not just to the process of studying and practicing but also the the methods of teaching.

In his new book The real work: on the mystery of mastery, author Adam Gopnik notes masters of a skill are, for the most part, everyday people “… who are, often for the most eccentric of reasons or with the most improbably eccentric practices and teaching methods, able to impart something of what they know”.

The ability to learn or master a skill is important in the workplace, but so too is the ability to impart knowledge to others.

In the process of researching his book, Gopnik studied magicians, undertook art lessons, learned to drive, informally apprenticed himself to his mother in order to learn to bake bread, sought instruction from a Muay Thai boxer (despite professed lack of sporting prowess), and took up ballroom dancing with his daughter.  Throughout all this, Gopnik examines the process by which we learn, master, and teach  new skills.

Even though we may not think of ourselves as masters of a skill set or task, years of practice mean that for many in our workplaces, we know much more than we think we do.

The real work : on the mystery of mastery / Gopnik, Adam
“In The Real Work-the term magicians use for the accumulated craft that makes for a great trick-Gopnik becomes a dedicated student of several masters of their craft: a classical painter, a boxer, a dancing instructor, a driving instructor, and others. Rejecting self-help bromides and bullet points, he nevertheless shows that the top people in any field share a set of common qualities and methods. For one, their mastery is always a process of breaking down and building up-of identifying and perfecting the small constituent parts of a skill and the combining them for an overall effect greater than the sum of those parts. For another, mastery almost always involves intentional imperfection-as in music, where vibrato, a way of not quite landing on the right note, carries maximum expressiveness. Gopnik’s simplest and most invigorating lesson, however, is that we are surrounded by mastery. Far from rare, mastery is commonplace, if we only know where to look: from the parent who can whip up a professional strudel to the social worker who-in one of the most personally revealing passages Gopnik has ever written-helps him master his own demons. Spirited and profound, The Real Work will help you understand how mastery can happen in your own life-and, significantly, why each of us relentlessly seeks to better ourselves in the first place”–Publisher’s description.” (Catalogue)

You can hear Gopnik’s RNZ interview Why mastery is better than being a master here and watch his Youtube The Real Work – How We Learn & Master New Skills


Want to learn more?  Try these titles from Wellington City Libraries collections.

Range : why generalists triumph in a specialized world / Epstein, David J.
“What’s the most effective path to success in any domain? It’s not what you think. Plenty of experts argue that anyone who wants to develop a skill, play an instrument, or lead their field should start early, focus intensely, and rack up as many hours of deliberate practice as possible. If you dabble or delay, you’ll never catch up to the people who got a head start. But a closer look at research on the world’s top performers, from professional athletes to Nobel laureates, shows that early specialization is the exception, not the rule. David Epstein examined the world’s most successful athletes, artists, musicians, inventors, forecasters and scientists. He discovered that in most fields–especially those that are complex and unpredictable–generalists, not specialists, are primed to excel. Generalists often find their path late, and they juggle many interests rather than focusing on one. They’re also more creative, more agile, and able to make connections their more specialized peers can’t see. Provocative, rigorous, and engrossing, [this book] makes a compelling case for actively cultivating inefficiency. Failing a test is the best way to learn. Frequent quitters end up with the most fulfilling careers. The most impactful inventors cross domains rather than deepening their knowledge in a single area. As experts silo themselves further while computers master more of the skills once reserved for highly focused humans, people who think broadly and embrace diverse experiences and perspectives will increasingly thrive.”–Dust jacket.” (Catalogue)
Also available in EAudiobook Overdrive format and EBook Overdrive

Peak : secrets from the new science of expertise / Ericsson, K. Anders
“Almost all of us have the seeds of excellence within us– it’s just a question of nurturing them by reducing expertise to a discrete series of attainable practices. Ericsson and Pool introduce an incredibly powerful approach to learning that is fundamentally different from the way people traditionally think about acquiring a skill, and offer invaluable, often counterintuitive, advice on setting goals, getting feedback, identifying patterns, and motivating yourself.” (Catalogue)


Micromastery : learn small, learn fast, and find the hidden path to happiness / Twigger, Robert
“We read that we must be passionate about only one thing, that 10,000 hours of hard practice is needed to achieve mastery. But in fact most successful people, including Nobel prize winners, nurture multiple areas of knowledge and activity that feed their central subject. Whether it’s making a perfect souffle, dancing a tango or lighting a fire, when we take the time to cultivate small and quantifiable areas of expertise, we change everything. We become faster and more fearless learners, spot more creative opportunities, improve our brain health and boost our happiness. We see knowledge itself completely differently. The skills acquired in painting a door flawlessly or growing delicious chillies will unexpectedly transform your life. So start small. Start specific. But start – and you’ll be on the path to mastery.” (Catalogue)

Mastery / Greene, Robert
“The #1 New York Times-bestseller from the author of The 48 Laws of Power Each one of us has within us the potential to be a Master. Learn the secrets of the field you have chosen, submit to a rigorous apprenticeship, absorb the hidden knowledge possessed by those with years of experience, surge past competitors to surpass them in brilliance, and explode established patterns from within. Study the behaviors of Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin, Leonardo da Vinci and the nine contemporary Masters interviewed for this book. The bestseller author of The 48 Laws of Power, The Art of Seduction, and The 33 Strategies of War, Robert Greene has spent a lifetime studying the laws of power. Now, he shares the secret path to greatness. With this seminal text as a guide, readers will learn how to unlock the passion within and become masters.” (Catalogue) Available in EAudiobook Libby format only

Interviews with the masters : a companion to Robert Greene’s mastery / Greene, Robert
“A companion to Robert Greene’s Mastery. More than 20,000 hours of research and thought went into Mastery. In a departure from his previous works, Robert Greene interviewed nine contemporary masters, including tech guru Paul Graham, animal rights advocate Temple Grandin, and boxing trainer Freddie Roach, to get their perspective on their paths to greatness. Those interviews are now available to readers for the first time. Interviews with the Masters presents more than 700 pages of revealing insight directly from these contemporary Masters; from how they learn and think, to how they put it all together and create. ” (Adapted from Catalogue). EBook Libby format only

If you need more information please contact the Prosearch team at the library.  We can help you find information across a range of perspectives and resources.  All enquiries are treated in confidence.


Overcoming imposter syndrome

Some years back, at an awards ceremony, the recipient of a well deserved achievement award admitted to the audience that whilst honoured, he also felt fraudulent accepting the award. He wasn’t sure he had done enough to deserve it, and perhaps those awarding it had made a mistake.

What the recipient demonstrated was a classic case of Imposter syndrome.

Imposter syndrome is loosely defined as doubting your abilities and feeling like a fraud when your achievements are noted.

Those who are high achieving, or perfectionists, are most like to suffer this feeling.

In some ways these sentiments can drive us to accomplish more but there is also a downside to the pressure we, as individuals, put on ourselves.

We’ve compiled some resources related to imposter syndrome that, no matter whether you are an individual, a business owner or a leader of people, will help you understand yourself or your staff.

In this short animated Ted talk Elizabeth Cox describes the psychology behind the imposter syndrome, and what you can do to combat it. 

In the article Here are 5 ridiculous reasons you feel like an imposter at work, the author states

The obvious reason many of us experience imposter syndrome is that we lack confidence in our abilities. We see ourselves as phony.  

She then gives tips for dealing with  the different styles of imposter you may identify with – the perfectionist, the overachiever, and so on.

In her blog post, 4 Ways to Soothe Your Professional Competence Anxiety, Dr Alice Boyes offers four self-talk phrases can help balance your thinking and soothe your feelings of anxiety.

Available with a library sign-in the Harvard Business review offers : Stop Telling Women They Have Imposter Syndrome
The answer to overcoming imposter syndrome is not to fix individuals, but to create an environment that fosters a number of different leadership styles and where diversity of racial, ethnic, and gender identities is viewed as just as professional as the current model.

Available for free to registered library users are the courses provided by LinkedIn learning :

Overcoming Imposter Syndrome
Join instructor Carolyn Goerner as she explains the different types of imposter syndrome and shares constructive ways you can begin to overcome this negative thought cycle.

Confidence: How to Overcome Self-Doubt, Insecurity, and Fears
In this course, instructor TJ Guttormsen provides information and practical exercises to help you change and improve the thoughts and emotions that might be holding you back, so that you can participate more fully, both professionally and privately, in the world around you.

The WCL book collection offers the following that may be helpful.

Why do I feel like an imposter? : how to understand and cope with imposter syndrome / Mann, Sandi
The term [imposter syndrome] was coined in 1978 by clinical psychologists Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes. Despite external evidence of their competence, those exhibiting the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be. This book presents an accessible and engaging examination of IS and how it effects us, not just at work, but as teenagers, parents and beyond. Using interactive quizzes to help you identify if you suffer and offering tips and tools to overcome your insecurities, psychologist Dr Sandi Mann will draw on her experience not only as an academic, but also as a practitioner, to present a comprehensive guide to understanding and overcoming IS.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The impostor syndrome : becoming an authentic leader / Hillman, Harold
“If you privately fear you are not properly qualified for your job, don’t worry – you are not alone and help is at hand. This book explains this common phenomenon and shows how you can overcome it to become a better leader, confident in your own abilities and true to yourself”–Back cover.” (Catalogue)

A New Zealand business coach outlines her own experiences in Allergic to perfect

Allergic to perfect : how to ditch your doubt and take imperfect action to grow your biz / Tolhopf, Natalie
When business coach Natalie Tolhopf launched her online business, she fell hard for those social media highlight reels. If she just hustled hard for six weeks, she could bring in as much money (if not more) than her well-paid corporate job. She’d spend her days at the beach, listening to her Paypal notifications going ping-ping-ping… Yeah right! It took a sudden health crisis for Nat to realize she’d been husting hard to build her business in all the wrong ways. Before she could crack six figures, Nat had to learn how to drop her perfectionism, trust her intuition and let go of self-sabotage and step into self-belief. She had to become Allergic to Perfect. In Allergic to Perfect, Natalie lays out the exact roadmap she followed to build a solid six-figure business, without losing herself – or her health – in the process.

Available in print, ebook or audiobook format is Ash Ambirge’s 
The middle finger project : trash your imposter syndrome and live the unf*ckwithable life you deserve / Ambirge, Ash
“Do you have an existential crisis every time your alarm goes off? Did you used to be fun/​effervescent/​happy/​less of a bitter old bitch – and now, let’s just say, you are not? Do you want to feel creative, inspired and, well, just alive again? Let Ash Ambirge offer you a spunky new alternative to traditional concepts of ‘work’. Growing up in a trailer park, by her twenty-first birthday Ash was a jobless, homeless orphan with only $26 to her name. But even with the odds stacked against her, she changed her fortune forever by starting her million-dollar business from the backseat of her car. Ash gave the finger to convention, blazed her own path, and finally found work she loved. And she wants to show you how she did it. Whether you’re an individual freelancer, self-made entrepreneur, or part of a larger corporation but not realising your dreams, Ash draws on her unconventional personal story to offer a fun, bracing, and occasionally potty-mouthed manifesto for the transformative power of radical self-reliance. Her paradigm-shifting advice will teach you how to hack your own success, create your own career options, rid yourself of imposter syndrome, and leverage your creativity to make it to the top. Told with her characteristic wit and no-bullshit attitude, this book is a must-read for anyone feeling stuck, restless, and doubtful of everything, especially themselves.” (Catalogue)

A search of “Imposter syndrome” in Ebsco’s Business Source Premier database will turn up over 80 further articles of interest.

If you need more information please contact the Prosearch team at the library.  We can help you find information across a range of perspectives and resources.  All enquiries are treated in confidence.


Giving a presentation

In the early days of running a Not-For-Profit (NFP) I was invited to give an evening presentation to a large group.  Before I had begun a gentleman in the front row had fallen asleep and was softly snoring!  Most off-putting to a beginner presenter.

Also off-putting is the advice someone always trots out before a group presentation “Just picture them naked”.  No thanks!

Standing in front of a group of people and presenting on a topic, even ones we are passionate and knowledgeable about, can be a nerve wracking experience.  Even more so if you are not an overtly confident and outgoing personality.

Now in these days of Covid uncertainty, reduced travel and meeting sizes – there is the added pressure of having to present online rather than to a room of people.

Below is a listing of some resources – available via your WCL membership –  on how to present with confidence and nail that presentation in a professional manner.

Develop your presentation skills : how to inspire and inform with clarity and confidence By Theo Theobald (2019)

Gain essential skills for career development, improve your confidence and nail your presentations with this pocket guide to preparing and delivering them well.

How to run seminars and workshops : presentation skills for consultants, trainers, teachers, and salespeople by Robert L Jolles (2017)  EBook

 How to Run Seminars and Workshops is the classic guide for trainers and presenters in any industry. Packed with clear advice and real-world practicality, this book covers all aspects including planning, setup, delivery, coaching, and more—including valuable guidance on selling your services. This new Fourth Edition has been updated and expanded, with new information on training simulations, self-marketing, and online delivery. New templates and worksheets help you sell your presentation more effectively, and insider tips leave you equipped to handle any situation that might arise. Novice presenters will find extensive guidance for every phase of the process, and even veteran presenters will learn how to fine-tune and adjust their methods to suit their audience and mode of delivery.

Mastering presentations : be the undisputed expert when you deliver presentations (even if you feel like you’re going to throw up) by Doug Staneart (2013)

Mastering Presentations explains how entrepreneurs and small business owners can use guest speaking opportunities to generate rapport with audiences in order to foster business relationships with these audiences.

Ultimate presentations : master the art of giving fantastic presentations and wowing employers by Surti Jay (2018)

Perfect your presentation skills and leave lasting impressions on prospective employers with this practical, up-to-date guide.

Online via Linkedin learning available through the Library e-resources (access available with library registration)

Creating and Giving Business Presentations

Learn the fundamentals of preparing for and delivering a compelling business presentation.

How to Present and Stay on Point

Discover the basic elements of delivering a great presentation and staying on message.

Designing a Presentation (2019)

Learn from a graphic designer how to create the very best, most visually appealing presentations

University of Melbourne, Australia has a neat guideline to Presenting online aimed at students but just as relevant for anyone having to present via an online format.

If you need more information please contact the Prosearch team at the library.  We can help you find information across a range of perspectives and resources.  All enquiries are treated in confidence.


Online learning and professional development

Keeping up to date or gaining new skill sets in an ever changing world can sometimes seem difficult but there are a range of resources available to Wellington business people can assist with your ongoing business learning.

Linkedin learning is an amazing resource offering library users Unlimited access to over 12,000 online video courses — topics include IT, business, design & more.
Courses can be accessed on the WCL site under the e-library resources tab

 Instructions are there to help you get started, otherwise all you need to login to this resource is your library membership card.  You can watch in your own time, at your own pace and its free!

Locally,  Victoria University of Wellington offers short courses for business people “….in administration, strategy and management, communication and engagement, cross-cultural competency, and information management, leadership and more.”

Distance learning is available through the courses offered by the Open Polytechnic and includes business, design, accounting and other related topics.

Also online is – a nfp site that offers over 3000 courses from universities around the world.

Similar to the above site is Future learn again with a wide range of subjects on offer from some leading educational institutions.