EES is warmly encouraging us to submit proposals for the upcoming, exciting next EES Conference that will take place from the 1st to the 5th October in Greece. I was wondering about why they are interested in us, European-ish (somehow related with Europe) evaluators, EES members, presenting roundtables, panels, posters or even pre-conference workshops.
And that made me remember all the reasons why every time I go to a conference, I submit proposals to try to contribute. Here’s why I do it:
1. It helps the conference have a more diverse, interesting content.
The association board can set the ground for the conference proposing a theme (this year’s is “For more resilient societies”) and presidential strands or keynotes, but the rest of the conference is collectively built by the participants who present others their work and ideas.
2. It helps me learn
Even though you present something you know about, preparing to present it in front of others makes you learn more, be more rigorous and try to excel.
3. Gives you visibility and you make new friends
I love evaluation conferences, because you realize there are always people who are interested and passionate about the issues you care about. When you present, you end up having people (well, maybe only one person, but still!) who come to you to find out more or share something of their own, and that is also cool.
4. Reinforces relationships with colleagues
Another thing I try to do is to try to kindly drag some of my friends to submit with me (or they do that to me), just because, in my opinion, preparing and presenting is more fun that way than on your own.
5. Makes the conference-experience more “spicy”
The first time I attended one I had just finished my masters in Evaluation and had conducted 1 evaluation, so I didn’t think I could present anything. And that was good. But ever since, I have tried to present and done it every time. This makes you have something to talk about (“Are you presenting something?” is a very common line when you meet someone new at the conference), and also provides me with a little bit of tension that makes the experience more intense than just being there as an spectator.
6. Allows me to practice speaking in public
Evaluators have to speak in public. Facilitating an evaluation is an exercise where you are facing different (often new) people, teams, groups and stakeholders, and you end up speaking in public in several occasions. Addressing an audience is always challenging, so it is never “too much” practice!
7. Boost my self-confidence
I am always humble when I think of presenting to other evaluators, who are often more experienced than me. But as long as what you have to say is reasonable and new-ish to them, they will be interested – and that, as amazing as it is, makes me feel good and gain self-confidence.
Well, this is why I always submit one or several proposals (not more than 3 either, because in case they all get approved I find it too stressing), even though March feels ages away from October, right? And even if our proposal/s are refused, which is probably not the case, no one can say we didn’t try.
Written by Sara Vaca (EES member)