Thursday, 20 November 2014

From Administrator to Presenter

From administrator to presenter

Staff may remember that I used to run family history workshops at the University, so I am not new to presenting, even though my day job is Senior Secretary in the Centre for Learning and Teaching, where I am more used to supporting academics in my team when they present at meetings or conferences.

In the last three years I have become an author in my spare time and regularly visit writing conferences to further my craft attending useful sessions such as ‘What editors want’, ‘The ethics of having a pen name’ and ‘Powerful blog post writing’.

I finally felt experienced enough to propose my own session at a conference I attended in Manchester recently. The workshop was entitled: ‘Collaborating with a co-author – the way to make or break a friendship’ for which I used my experience in collaborating with a Finnish writer on a novel. (The brainstorming we did to create our novel was so exhilarating I would recommend everyone do it at least once in their lives. The downside included different writing styles, eg, one of us being a quicker writer than the other).

 One could probably tell that I worked at a University as I explained my three learning objectives to the participants. Those being to discuss the pros and cons of collaborating, to have a speed collaboration exercise (speed dating with a difference - this was to give delegates the opportunity to see how the people work differently), and to look at some hints and tips. And then there was the conclusion – whether it made or broke my friendship! (We are still friends despite threatening strangulation on more than one occasion – and I am sure she felt the same way about me).

The session went very well and the speed collaboration exercise, in particular, was terrific. There was a great buzz with animated expressions, some earnest discussions, and lots of laughter. Feedback comments included, ‘thought-provoking’, ‘thoroughly enjoyable’, ‘you are a born teacher’ – although the latter was from a friend, so she may be slightly biased. What was interesting, though, was that three people said it put them off ever collaborating. Clearly I emphasised the negatives more than the positives – a note to myself for the next time I run this workshop.

Deb Chapman
Senior Secretary