Veni, Vidi, Vici – I came, I saw, I conquered.
In the days leading up to NASPA 2011, you may have noticed tweets from @NathanVictoria & I encouraging everyone to share their Top 10 Twitter Tips for #NASPA11. This was the first year we tried this method of engaging the Twitter community pre-conference – thank you to all of those who shared and participated!
Having the luxury now of looking back on my conference experience, I thought the best way to share my experiences was by answering my own NASPA Top Tips. Read on for a selection of …
Lisa’s Top NASPA Thoughts
1. What are you most excited about for NASPA?
Originally, I was excited about NASPA for the same reasons I get excited about any conference. As a certified and card carrying member of the ‘Extroverts Club’ (side note: we’re still working on our business cards), I love any and all opportunities to talk shop and connect with colleagues. Once I got there, NASPA certainly did not disappoint. Whether it was the #SAChat tweet up, during sessions or random hallway conversations, I definitely got to ‘feed the E’ and meet some amazing people with equally amazing insights around how to be both a better professional and human being.
2. Share Your One ‘Can’t Miss’ Session!
If you asked me this before the conference, I probably would have said that my session on the Co-Curricular Record was the ‘can’t miss’ session of the conference. I wanted a good audience at the session so I could learn and share around one of my favorite research topics, and, once again, NASPA did not disappoint. Carolyn & I had around 20 professionals and colleagues at our presentation who offered great feedback and asked some good questions. I’m looking forward to continuing the conversation!
3. What’s Your Best Conference Survival Tip?
While still a card carrying Extrovert, my best conference survival tip was created after spending so much time in the company of others. Even though I still crave, and get my energy from, interaction with people I had to learn that it was okay, and even healthy, to take time for myself. The Extrovert in me requires a lot of energy, and being your best self often means taking care of yourself first. I’m still a work in progress when it comes to taking time off (I’m afraid I might miss something!), but I’m learning from Eda LeShan “When we truly care for ourselves, it becomes possible to care far more profoundly about other people. The more alert and sensitive we are to our own needs, the more loving and generous we can be toward others.”
4. Tell Us About Any ‘Must See’ Attractions in Philidelphia!
Where do I begin? From running (read: scampering) up the Rocky stairs while humming Chariots of Fire, to eating a Philly Cheesesteak and going over quota on my calorie count for the month, to simply enjoying the beautiful old architecture, Philadelphia is a beautiful city well worth exploring. Furthermore, my time spent running (re: crawling) up the Rocky stairs seemed like a near perfect metaphor for the past few months of my life – a long, hard run that seems intimidating but ultimately rewards me with one of the most amazing views, either of the city or the ‘bigger picture’ for why I do what I do.
5. How and Why Are You Using Twitter for the Conference?
How didn’t I use Twitter at the conference? Twitter was my means to connect, engage and follow all the NASPA happenings. The greatest benefit of Twitter for me was making a 5000+ conference feel very small. The online community we created made even this NASPA newbie feel right at home.
6. What are Your Top Tips for Conference Presenters?
I could go on about knowing your audience or not relying on your Power Point slides, but I think this tip is best illustrated in a story.
I had the immense pleasure of meeting student affairs social media guru Eric Stoller after sharing awesomeness in 140 characters or less on Twitter. After attending his ‘UnSession’ on social media strategies Eric and I went out to lunch with the amazing Phil Campbell to chat more about Facebook and FourSquare and ponder the virtues of a caffeine IV drip. After some talk around best practices in using social media in student affairs, Eric invited me to co-facilitate his upcoming session – directly after lunch. My initial hesitation was quickly replaced with excitement (only due in part to the Red Bull) and Eric and I went on to present, in my opinion, a pretty rocking session.
This experience taught me my new number one tip for conference presenters: Be open to new experiences. I’ve been using this advice as a guideline for life, but until NASPA I had never thought of it as a guideline for presentations. For me, it means sometimes giving up control and trusting your instincts. It means trusting that the research and preparation will carry you through any (real or perceived) embarrassing moments, and, in the end, it means being open to the dialouge and discussion that are the marks of a truly successful presentation. It was a wise colleague of mine who once told me that questions, comments and suggestions are not to be feared, but rather celebrated as evidence that we have inspired someone to think in a new and different way.
Tangent: Eric also deserves some special shout outs (#StollerShoutOut) for trusting me enough to share in the UnSession experience and for continuing to be an amazing source of confidence and amazing conversation. I’m looking forward to what lies ahead!
And finally …
7. How Do You Educate for Lives of Purpose?
What an intimidating question! NASPA 2011 helped shine the spotlight on my own sense of purpose as well as what lessons I teach my students. Attending this conference, however, helped me see that I’m not actually teaching or providing purpose, but instead helping to give students the tools to discover their own sense of meaning and belonging. In keeping with my drive to be open to new experiences, I hope to educate students to not simply participate in life, but rather to examine, review, reflect and think critically about their actions and their own life’s purpose. By providing safe spaces and opportunities for discussion and dialouge, I hope to not only teach students how to reflect, but, more importantly, why this ongoing self reflection is so vitally important to everything we do. Perhaps my own life’s purpose is to help others discover their own.
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