Why blog from the AIC annual meeting?

I first volunteered to blog from the AIC annual meeting 2 years ago. At that point, I didn’t really have much experience blogging, and honestly, I was a bit intimidated by the idea. I was concerned that I wouldn’t get the author(s) points across very effectively (or worse get details completely wrong) and I was also worried that my posts would be boring. A lot of the blogs that I followed were funny, clever, and insightful, and I just didn’t feel that I would be able to measure up to such standards. Finally, I just felt out of practice doing that kind of writing – being just out of graduate school, I was used to doing lots of technical writing and writing for scholarly purposes, but writing for a blog is different – you want to impart your voice and opinions, and it can be difficult to adjust to such a different format and style.
Well, I did blog from the annual meeting that year, and then blogged again last year, and I’m here to say that it isn’t all that bad. In fact, it was really worthwhile (and dare I say, fun??). Knowing that I was blogging for specific presentations made me pay attention to details I otherwise wouldn’t have, and it also made me think of capturing components of the talks that would work well in a visual presentation on the blog – photos of a poster or handout, a screenshot from the powerpoint, or an image from the conference room, etc. Blogging is also a great way to reflect on a talk and form your own opinions about the content. You don’t need to express these all in your blogpost, but ultimately, digesting a talk in a follow-up blogpost helps make that particular presentation more memorable and valuable.
Thinking about blogging from the annual meeting but unsure if you can hack it? Keep the following points in mind:

  • Only sign up to blog for a presentation that you’re already planning on attending.
  • Don’t worry about capturing all of the details – it’s okay to say in your blogpost that you missed something, or to even say – “did anyone else understand this particular point, or capture that particular detail?” This is a way to engage readers-some of the best blogposts are those that ask for reader feedback or ask questions.
  • Start by signing up to blog for 1 presentation or event. This shouldn’t be a stressful task, and signing up for 1 blogpost will be a huge help.  If you are feeling adventurous (or thirsty) AIC is offering a free drink ticket at the opening reception for the first 35 volunteers who sign up for two talks!
  • Try to write up your thoughts about the talk soon after you hear it, but don’t worry about posting something right away. The goal is to have posts up in the week after the meeting – but at least organizing your thoughts sooner rather than later will make things easier on yourself.
  • Think about images. If you have a camera or smartphone with you, snap a photo to include in your post. Readers always appreciate blogposts with images.
  • Have fun with it! Consider taking the opportunity to follow up with the speaker or talking to other attendees about the talk, and incorporate this feedback into your post. No pressure to do this, but it could make for a more enriching experience.
  • Keep it simple. Most people who read blogs don’t have a lot of time or patience to read thousands of words of content. They’re looking for quick access to information, so try to write succinctly and use headings to break up long blocks of text. Blogposts 600 words or less are typically best.
  • If you do end up blogging, include this on your CV. Future potential employers will take notice, and this type of writing is also good practice for future jobs or projects where you may be asked to contribute to a blog.

If, after reading this, you think you might be interested, please check out the Google Doc Spreadsheet to see which sessions or events are in need of bloggers and to sign up:

There is a separate tab down at the bottom for each session, workshop or event.  Input your name and email next to the talk you are interested in covering.  Easy! Also, please leave a comment here if you have further questions, and thanks for considering this!