The talk that I've been blabbering on about since October has come and gone. It went pretty well, overall.
The whole conference was huge (20,000+ people, 10+ simultaneous sessions at many times, 12-14 hour days) and a little bit overwhelming, but also fun and informative. I made it a priority to go to as many trainee sessions as I could- some were very interesting and had good advice, a few were very focused on career development for MDs, even though they had the little symbol in the program that meant "of interest to PhDs". Oh well, most of them had free food, at least! (I'm getting reimbursed for food, so I guess that doesn't matter, but it was still nice not to have to figure out where to get food)
The talk itself went okay. It could have been better, but I'm not going to beat myself up over it- I'm just going to learn from it and do better next time (department retreat, early January!). *edited to add: there were a few hundred people in the room, not the whole 20,000! Especially since it was early on the last day, a lot of people were either already gone or slept in*
First of all, I'm sure I've mentioned that the talk was at 7:45 AM EST. I am NOT a morning person. And I live in the Central time zone, so that was really like 6:45 AM. UNCOOL. I think my brain wasn't functioning at top speed that early in the morning, especially after 4 nights in a hotel (I slept okay most nights, actually, just the last night I woke up after having a nightmare about showing up to the wrong room way on the other side of the convention center and couldn't get back to sleep).
Lesson learned? Um, don't give a talk that early? Not much I can do about it, but at least for retreat I'll be in my own bed for the week preceding the talk.
Then, the AV set up was TERRIBLE. There was a computer monitor off to the right, but sort of too far to the side to comfortably look at AND see the audience. The projector screen wasn't at the right angle to use a laser pointer, so you had to use the cursor, which was set as a huge red arrow, if you wanted to point to anything. You also had to use the mouse to advance the slides, and the arrow was always either persisting too long and being distracting, or not appearing so you had to sort of bounce the mouse to get it back. And the microphone was on the left side, so if you wanted to see the computer at all, you weren't really facing the mic. Oh, and there wasn't presenter view on the one screen you could almost sort of see.
Lesson? Don't rely on presenter view or being able to point at the screen.
I already pretty much plan my powerpoints to not need a pointer, but it's still nice to have as an option (and not to have the arrow popping up all over the place). I don't use notes in presenter view, but I feel like I talk more smoothly if I know what is coming next. I didn't want to memorize my whole talk, because I didn't want to sound robotic, but I think in the end I was a little choppy because I had to click to be certain of what was coming up next in a few places. My boss said she thinks it wasn't noticeable to someone who hadn't heard it done better in my practice talk, but that it wasn't as good as my practice talk.
Oh, and the moderator forgot to reset the timer, so I had no idea where I was time-wise, and didn't even know if I had hit the "warning time" (a yellow light appears) when I was nearing the end of my talk. My labmate said I was right on, because she looked at her watch and saw that the person before me ended right on time, and the next person was able to start right on time.
I got several questions, which was nice because at least I knew some people were paying attention and understood what I was talking about! Most of them were asking whether we had also looked at this or that (Yes, summarize results; We've been talking about it, thanks for the suggestion; Someone else in the lab is doing that, you should check out her poster). And then there was the other question.
This guy introduced himself as being from a lab I'm a little familiar with, and asked why we don't measure something earlier.
Me: "We've never been able to get a reliable measurement that early in our system."
Him: "Well someone in our lab does it all the time, and our system is very similar. So it's certainly possible"
Me: "Okay, thanks, I'll look into it."
It didn't really bother me, and I did intend to look into their method, but I wasn't upset over it. My boss was mad, though, because their system is "similar" to ours, but ACCELERATED. So, you know, things happen faster. Ah well, life goes on.
Overall, I felt like it went okay, and I have things to think about for my next version in January.
After my talk, I listened to the other people in my session, grabbed a coffee with my labmate, and went to the awards presentation to see our boss accept her award for "significant contributions to the field". Awesome! This labmate and I were both leaving a little later, so we checked our luggage with the concierge and played tourist for a few hours before heading to the airport. Fun!