ECPN Webinar Follow-up: Presenting Talks and Posters

posted on behalf of Ariel O’Connor
Since I started graduate school in 2006, I’ve given 24 conservation-related PowerPoint presentations at conferences. Each time I give a talk, there are many things that go well, and many things I wish I had done differently. I’ve never walked away from a podium and thought “that was perfect!” but I’ve been proud of many presentations, and that’s usually because I had plenty of time to practice and make changes suggested by friends and colleagues who saw an early version of the talk. When things haven’t gone according to plan – which happens often – I usually know why. I didn’t do a full run-through of the script before the talk, so I went over time. I forgot to check the video link, so it didn’t work during the talk. I’ve lost my place reading a script. I’ve answered, “I don’t know,” to questions in the Q & A session. I stayed up all night finishing the talk and had too much coffee the day of. We’ve all been there, and it’s okay.
As my career progresses, I’ve noticed a shift. I don’t have the time I did in grad school to focus on one PowerPoint at a time, often now I have several to prepare at once. So they’re less elaborate than they were, but I’m getting more comfortable in front of an audience. I look up to the conservators who can comfortably and clearly speak about their work in public, and I constantly try to get better at it. But things still go wrong all the time! To me, the most important thing to take away from those experiences is to understand why they happened, so you can try and improve for the next time. For example, I’m a habitually last-minute PowerPointer, so I try to give myself an earlier deadline by arranging a run-through with colleagues in advance. Sometimes I can, sometimes I can’t. I also want to use more scripts that have simple bullet points instead of sentences, so I can speak without a full script and still stick to time. That’s a future goal of mine, but it’s going to take practice.
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about preparing and delivering a good PowerPoint talk, and I keep trying to meet those goals. In the feedback from this ECPN Webinar, many students and conservators told me they enjoyed the tips for fancy effects and tricks, but really needed guidance for the basics. In response to this feedback, I put together a 3-page checklist for basic PowerPoint guidelines and stats. It’s compiled from the notes given to me by my former professor and digital guru from SUNY Buffalo, Dan Kushel, and Buffalo’s current Imaging and Technical Examination professor, Jiuan Jiuan Chen, along with a sprinkling of my own notes. With their assistance and permission, we’d like it to be available for anyone to download from the AIC Wiki. Follow this link to access and download the checklist: The first two pages of the handout are designed as a checklist for making the talk, so each step can be checked off as the presentation is created. The last page can be brought to the venue and used as a checklist for giving the talk.
Conservators are incredibly generous with their research and knowledge, and being comfortable presenting your work is an important part of our profession. I hope this checklist will help increase your comfort with presentations. Please share any comments and tips you use as well. Happy PowerPointing!
About the Author
Ariel O’Connor is currently an Objects Conservator at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. Prior to Air and Space, Ms. O’Connor was an Assistant Objects Conservator at the Walters Art Museum, Assistant Objects Conservator and Samuel H. Kress Fellow at the Harvard Art Museums, and Andrew W. Mellon Fellow at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Her research focuses on materials and technology in archaeological Asian art. Her archaeological fieldwork includes seasons at the Aphrodisias Excavations, Mugello Valley/Poggio Colla Archaeological Project, and Gordion Excavations Project. She holds an M.A. and C.A.S. in Art Conservation from Buffalo State College.

An update from the Emerging Conservation Professionals Network (ECPN)

On the heels of a busy and successful 2012, 2013 is turning out to be another eventful year for the Emerging Conservation Professionals Network (ECPN), with many exciting activities planned and several projects already underway. We’re also working hard to prepare for our activities at the AIC Annual Meeting in May. Here is a summary of what we have been up to and what lies ahead. You can also find out more about our network’s mission on our webpage.
ECPN at AIC’s 41st Annual Meeting in Indianapolis

Shots from our portfolio review session at the 2012 annual meeting
Shots from our portfolio review session at the 2012 annual meeting

Portfolio Seminar
On Wednesday, May 29th, ECPN will be holding a Portfolio Seminar from 4:00 to 6:00pm. Following the successes of ECPN’s Portfolio Review Sessions at the 2011 and 2012 AIC Annual Meetings, we are expanding the session this year to address a larger, more diverse audience and provide increased opportunities for discussion. This two-hour session will include presentations, a panel discussion, and interactive portfolio sharing. The presentations will focus on topics including building conservation portfolios, creating an architectural conservation portfolio, creating an online or digital portfolio, and professional development beyond the portfolio. The panel discussion will address audience questions, and portfolio sharing will be composed of volunteers representing different graduate programs and conservation specialties.
ECPN Happy Hour
After the Portfolio Session on May 29th, join us for an extended happy hour from 6:30 to 10:00pm at High Velocity in the JW Marriott, sponsored by Tru Vue. Our happy hour is a great opportunity to mingle with other emerging conservators, as well as mentors and colleagues. Please join us – all are welcome!
One of the break-out discussions during ECPN's 2012 informational meeting
One of the break-out discussions during ECPN’s 2012 informational meeting

ECPN Informational Session
On Friday, May 31st, from 5:30 to 6:30pm, we will be holding our annual informational session, where you can learn about ECPN, propose and discuss ideas, and meet others in the network.
ECPN Poster
This year, ECPN is presenting a poster entitled “The Art_Con<server>: 
How conservation professionals make use of online resources,” in which we will explore different viewpoints surrounding public access to conservation information and its effects on the conservation profession. The content of the poster was generated with support from the AIC Publications Committee and is based on a survey distributed to AIC members that addressed the creation and promotion of conservation content online and the accessibility of conservation literature.
In addition to ECPN’s activities, please support emerging conservators who will be presenting in the Specialty Group sessions and poster session. In addition to presentations interspersed throughout these sessions, the Architecture Specialty Group is holding a special student session on Friday, May 31st from 8:00 to 10:00am .
ECPN Webinars
In 2012, ECPN held two webinars, both of which received an outstanding response. Our first webinar – “Self-advocacy and Fundraising for Independent Research” – was held in July and featured Debra Hess Norris. This webinar attracted over 90 registered participants from 6 different countries. Our second webinar – “Considering your future career path: working in private practice” – was held in November, and 80 registered participants called in to learn valuable insight into the world of private practice from Paul Messier, Rosa Lowinger, and Julia Brennan.
ECPN is planning for our next webinar on the topic of Pre-program internships to be held in summer 2013. Webinar speakers include both emerging conservators and conservators with experience supervising interns. Stay tuned for more details. For more information on ECPN’s webinar series, please follow this link. You can also find reviews of last year’s two webinars on AIC’s blog and video content by following these links:
Self-advocacy and Fundraising webinar
Private Practice Webinar
Mentoring Program
ECPN’s Mentoring Program, which successfully matched 24 mentees with mentors since last year’s annual meeting, is undergoing a restructuring to better and more swiftly meet the needs of emerging conservators, including pre-program, graduate, and post-graduate. This will involve the creation of pre-program resources that will address common concerns, such as tips for applying to graduate school programs. To learn more about the program, or to apply to be a mentor or to find a mentor, follow this link.
AIC Wiki
This past January, ECPN officers and members actively participated in the AIC Wiki January edit-a-thon, working on the Exhibiting Conservation page and the Lexicon Project.
ECPN would also like to encourage emerging conservators to participate in the AIC Annual Meeting wiki edit-a-thon luncheon event on Friday May 31 from 12-2pm. For more details about this event please contact ECPN Chair Molly Gleeson at: mollygleeson [at] gmail [dot] com.
ECPN Liaisons
This year ECPN welcomed the following new graduate program liaisons:
Christina Simms and Christina Taylor – Buffalo State College
Mayank Patel and Brooke Young – Columbia University
Saira Haqqi – Institute of Fine Arts, New York University
Samantha Fisher and Marie-Lou Beauchamp – Queen’s University
Casey Mallinckrodt – UCLA/Getty
Michelle Sullivan – Winterthur/University of Delaware
Sarah B. Hunter – University of Texas, School of Architecture
A complete list of our current liaisons can be found on our webpage.
These are just a few of the activities that ECPN is engaged in. We encourage you to join us at our annual meeting events, or on one of our conference calls! If you have any questions, ideas, or would like to get involved, please leave a comment here or contact Eliza Spaulding, ECPN Vice Chair, at elizaspaulding [at] gmail [dot] com.