So much happens around a conference. They are busy times. Sessions to attend, people to catch up with, places to go. In the midst of all this busyness it is easy to pass over the moments when something changes for us that we should be celebrating. The moment we took a step into new territory, quietened our inner critic and did something we have never done before. We leave conference in a different place to the one we started in.

There are so many ways in which this can happen. The obvious ones are that you may be giving a poster or presentation for the first time and boy is that something to celebrate. There is a real temptation to focus on the things you could have done better. We all do it, engage in such self-talk as:

  • “I didn’t answer that question well,’
  • ‘I had to rush the last few slides’,
  • ‘My voice, hands, whole body were shaking so much people must have noticed’
  • ‘My slides weren’t as good as other people’
  • ‘People looked bored’

But hey hang on a moment here – what about the alternatives:

  • I’ve done a first presentation
  • I’ve made a contribution to the conference
  • I answered that question well
  • I got some good feedback

Of course such occasions are learning experiences and a time to develop further. A good way to ensure that you are balanced in your reflection, is to answer the following 2 questions – ‘what went well’ and ‘even better if’, AND don’t forget to give as much attention to the what went well.

But lets think more widely than this, there are other moments deserving of recognition. It may be the first time you have ever attended a professional or academic conference, you may not know anyone else who is going and feel nervous about how the whole thing works. It may be the first time you have summoned up the courage to put your hand up at the end of a session and ask a question. Or it may be the first time you have put your hand up, been given the microphone and asked a question in one of the main sessions in front of the whole conference (how brilliant is that).

Everyone talks about the networking opportunities at conference but it takes courage to network. You see the leaders of your profession, people’s who work you have long admired, researchers at the top of their game. You summon up the courage to introduce yourself and ask a question.

Don’t let such moments as these go by unmarked. Share it with someone, do a happy dance, stand tall and proud. This is your moment and you will never be in the position of saying or feeling, ‘I’m nervous because I haven’t done this before’. You have taken a step forward and ended up in a different place.

Are you going to COT2017?

If you are going to the Royal College of Occupational Therapists annual conference next week, #COT2017, and don’t have anyone to share your moment with come and share it with me. Even if you have someone else to share it with come and share it with me anyway. I’d love to celebrate with you and if you’d like one I’ve got some celebratory stickers to share with you! “Today I’ve done something awesome and I’m celebrating”.