Workshops and Speaking

Thank you so much for thinking of me for your event! Over the years, I’ve developed a list of requests so that we can ensure that the event runs smoothly, for you and for me. I think all of these things are reasonable, but sometimes people don’t think of them right away, so I thought I’d set them down in writing.

Here is a headshot you can use for publicity materials, and here is a short bio.

Please tell me in advance exactly what you’re expecting from me.

Several times, I’ve discovered only upon arriving somewhere that I’m expected to give a lecture or consultations I wasn’t expecting! That’s not ideal for me, and it’s really not good for the audience. I appreciate having a detailed itinerary in advance of the event, so that no one’s caught by surprise.

Please ensure that the hotel is close to the speaking venue, or that transportation is arranged.

It’s uncomfortable for me to walk long distances in “speaking shoes,” especially in a new city. (I’ve realized, in conversations with friends, that this is a common complaint.) I think sometimes people do this because they want to show me the city, which I appreciate, but I’d rather not arrive at the venue sweaty and frazzled.

I need to be able to use my own computer for the presentation.

I really prefer not to transfer my slides over to someone else’s laptop. It messes with my fonts, and I can’t just show PDFs because I use a lot of video and animation. I have a 2017 MacBook Pro that requires a USB-C adapter. I usually remember to bring my own adapter, but sometimes I forget.

Please give me some downtime during the day.

I love meeting new people, but unfortunately my day-to-day work doesn’t stop just because I’m traveling! A couple hours to answer emails and grade papers is enormously appreciated, especially if I can be loaned a workspace.

Workshops are a ton of work.

I’m happy to offer a workshop, if we’ve agreed on it, but please understand that preparing and giving a workshop (if done well) requires a lot of labor, and is, ideally, compensated accordingly. I think that if workshops are successful, they look easy and spontaneous, but I promise you that’s not the case. It’s also very important that the workshop venue is appropriately equipped and arranged. Here is the setup I prefer:

  • A presenter lectern or desk, and a large screen, to which I can plug in my own laptop.
  • Tables, arranged so that participants are fairly close to each other and have clear sightlines. Lecture halls will not work.
  • Laptops, with the configurations I’ve requested, need to be available for participants. Participants must be warned that they cannot participate with an iPad or the like, and that following along with pencil and paper will not benefit them.
  • If I’ve asked you to print handouts, please do! I give a lot of thought to the format in which I deliver information, and I promise you there’s a reason for everything. Also, please print handouts at the full size.
  • Please give participants a good idea of what to expect, and please make clear the level of expertise at which the workshop will be pitched. Too many times I’ve offered a workshop to people who thought it would be something else, and it’s not a good situation for anyone.

Please don’t have a grad student handle travel arrangements and reimbursement.

I love grad students! But they’re not usually well-versed in university financial protocols, and there’s nothing worse than finding oneself dunning a hapless grad student for an honorarium. If you have an administrator on staff who’s accustomed to making these arrangements, that’s really ideal.

Extended phone calls in advance of the event are usually not necessary.

It’s really better for me if you can write down what you want in an email. An hour may not seem like that much time, but it’s an hour I could be spending working with students or doing my own research, and frankly I need all the time I can get for that. I’ve done a lot of talks and workshops over the years, and if you’ve invited me, please trust that I know what I’m doing. I’m happy to speak for 15 or 20 minutes, but I’d love it if we could keep it brief.

Please let me know if you have an institutional goal you’d like to accomplish.

A lot of times, when people bring a speaker in, they’re trying to make the case for something, like the importance of funding a certain kind of work or increasing collaboration with the library. It’s helpful if you tell me what this goal is, so that I can help you achieve it if I’m able.

Can we make it an early night?

If it’s at all possible, I’d love it if we could do dinner early — even as early as 5pm! — so that I can finish up work and crash!

It’s generally fine with me if you want to record my talk or photograph or tweet it or whatever! I can also generally share my slides afterwards.

I’ll let you know if I feel otherwise for some reason! I know not everyone feels the same way, so thank you for thinking about it.