July 1, 2016 by permanentred
The London Regional Committee recently gave a Lifelong Learning grant to contribute a small part to the funding of Jane Collier’s trip to Mexico for the World Congress of Cardiology & Cardiovascular Health so that she could blow the trumpet for London OT services. Here’s her brilliant and well-written report. She has even included handy tips which you will find invaluable when you get the chance to present at a conference. Thanks Jane!
If you would like to apply for a lifelong learning grant, please email the COT London Region on BAOT.London@cot.co.uk
World Heart Federation – World Congress of Cardiology & Cardiovascular Health, Mexico City, 4-7 June 2016
Having gained an MSc in Global Health and Social Justice in September 2015, I decided to submit my dissertation abstract to the above conference, never thinking in my wildest dreams that it would be accepted. Lo and behold, I received an email a short while later informing me that it had been accepted for a poster presentation. I was off to Mexico! The biggest challenge was designing a poster from the thousands of words of the dissertation. There were many drafts and re-design meetings – a steep learning curve. I used the services of one of my son’s friends who is a graphic designer as he had the relevant software and skills to produce what was required. Initially we followed the conference poster guidelines which meant that the first draft print out was enormous. I was not convinced this was right so having emailed the conference organisers, discovered that their guidelines were the maximum size requirements, and the poster ideally should be size A0.
Tip number 1 – the poster took much longer than I had anticipated so it is useful to give yourself more time than you think you need when designing your first ever one.
I chose to use a printing service endorsed by the conference that meant it was printed in Mexico and delivered to the conference venue for me – this saved me the worry of flying to and travelling around Mexico with this precious cargo!
I was only required to present the poster for one of the conference days. The conference was about 1.5 hours drive away from the hotel on a special shuttle bus. Conference guidelines indicated the poster had to be up on the board by 8.30am and there were specific times during the day that I was required to stand by my poster to be ready for questions.
Tip number 2 – no-one else seems to bother about conference guidelines! There were still people arriving to put their posters up half way through the morning so don’t stress about getting there dead on time.
Unfortunately the posters section was at the back of the exhibition hall so most conference delegates were drawn to the glitzy, loud, corporate stalls of the conference sponsors where you could get your free pens, coffee, and stethoscopes! The outcome of this was that very few delegates made it beyond this show of latest high-tec intervention equipment and demonstrations so the posters were poorly situated in terms of potential viewers. In addition to my poster, I also had printed 100 A5 leaflets of a mini version of the poster and gave out 3 during the whole day! The lack of attendees at the posters did lead me to conclude that I did not, in fact, need to stand by my poster for all the time the guidelines had indicated so I did sneak off to attend a few presentations.
Tip number 3 – don’t worry about staying beside your poster all day, no-one else seems to follow this guideline! Just follow what everyone else does.
I had managed to wander around the stalls and collect a few freebies for work colleagues as well as some information regarding other worldwide cardiovascular health societies. This was in a conference bag together with my delegates pack and my remaining 97 A5 leaflets, and was subsequently “removed” from my poster area whilst I was attending a presentation – never to be seen again.
Tip number 4 – do not let anything leave your side, regardless of how ‘unwanted’ you think it may be. If there are things to be taken for free, people will use any opportunity!
I spat the dummy out , stomped my feet, and even made someone take me to the trash bins but no success in finding my bag. This was the last straw so I left the conference pretty disillusioned and frustrated.
Tip number 5 – attend the conference first, THEN go on holiday, not the other way round.
I was both surprised and disappointed to note that despite it being a ‘world’ heart conference, my poster relating to the Middle East was the only one of its kind throughout the 4-day conference. There were no other pieces of work concerning that part of the world apart from minimal reference to Saudi Arabia, either in the form of poster or oral presentations.
What have I learned from this experience?
- check your article fits with the general theme of the conference (although in theory, you would expect it not to be accepted if it is not considered relevant).
- give yourself plenty of time to design a poster, seek professional help if you don’t have the relevant software.
- don’t worry too much about conference protocol – no-one else does, just follow the crowd.
- keep all belongings with you at all times.
- conference first, holiday after!
- yes, I would do it again but maybe try to establish beforehand where exactly the poster exhibition is located. It’s a lot of work and potentially a long way to travel if no-one looks at your poster.
Senior Specialist Occupational Therapist
Guy’s & St. Thomas’s NHS Hospital Trust