Conference? Yes Please!

If you were to ask me to present my experiments to date in front of a panel of experts, my immediate response would be one of silence, hesitation and finally avoidance. This was my mentality until now. Stepping recently into the 3rd year of my PhD, I knew that this mentality had to change, for the sake of what every PhD results in…the VIVA. I knew it was time to apply to a conference but it took me all of my courage and resolve to apply to one of the biggest annual R&D conferences for the creative industries – Beyond (@AHRCPRESS @UKRI_News).

The wait was awful, but finally my courage paid off and I was accepted to present my research at the conference. This Year’s topic was the intersection between Artificial Intelligence and creativity (I will get into this topic and my PhD topic in another blog post), with amazing talks from business leaders, creatives, researchers, policymakers, journalists and funding bodies.

The day to attend the conference finally arrived; my nerves hit the roof when I walked into the beautiful venue where we would be presenting (The Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh).

Once the poster presentation started, my feeling of fear and stress slowly ebbed away as I begin to interact with passersby interested in my research. In these moments, I was able to find my calm and confidently discuss my expertise in the topic. My poster stood out in the sense that it was very different from the other posters, as I was only one of the 2 to 3 non-AI PhD researchers, although it was less popular compared to other industry-based research. At first I was disappointed that my Psychology centered topic didn’t bring in such crowds however I kept my hopes up waiting for any potential connections I might make.

The day passed on with exciting talks by leading researchers, business founders and artists among others. By the end of the afternoon, I had been offered to collaborate with other PhD students and a prominent Professor interested in my work, as well as making multiple connections from the fields of business, fashion, and technology. The second day of the conference flew by, especially since I knew what to expect and had made acquaintances, and after subsequent rounds of poster presentations and final talks, the conference came to a close.

What did I gain from this experience?

  1. Don’t compare your area of research with other areas. Every topic is different, every PhD is different and you should be proud of what you present!
  2. Hone your presentation skills. Don’t be scared to share your research with other researchers. You will gain valuable feedback, but most importantly you will become fluent in presenting your topic convincingly with evidence.
  3. Networking: The best skillset that you will acquire from the conference.
  4. Be aware of your strengths and weaknesses and gain valuable feedback on what to improve on for next time.
  5. Fear and stress are inevitable but once everything finishes the reward is waiting for you.

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