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What We Learned: MLA13

By Andrew Youngkin, Emerging Technology and Evaluation Coordinator, NN/LM, SE/A Region

MLA 2013 proved to be a very busy meeting for me—as a participant, presenter, and newly appointed member of credentialing committee. Though my attention was pulled in multiple directions, I would say the bulk of my energy was geared towards preparing and delivering what I hoped were well-rehearsed presentations. As I reflect on the conference, it seems that I learned as much from the process of prepping and delivering these presentations as I hoped conference attendees did from the content. The adage about “getting out what you put in” seemed to ring true in this instance. The experience of presenting at MLA along with so many talented health science information professionals was of tremendous value and constituted many major “What We Learned” moments.

The structure of the MLA Tech Trends panel, on which I participated this year, was a particularly refreshing take on the panel presentation. Having not only a session moderator (Michelle Kraft), but also Social Media Jockeys Nicole Dettmer (Twitter) and Amy Blevins (Google), forced presenters to focus on their message, all without the aid of presentation technology they themselves could control. The Tech Trends panel presentation allowed me to elevate my efforts to place a greater focus on both my topic and the audience so that I could effectively convey a concise, targeted message. I certainly emerged from the experience with stronger speaking skills that will prepare me for future presentations.

I also picked up new bits of information from the poster and paper presentations, which will allowed me to develop ideas for new projects and suggestions to strengthen existing ones. I did, however, find myself with a little less time to indulge in a lot of sessions by giving several of my own presentations and having to attend more business meetings than in the past. Luckily, with much of the content on the conference site prior to the meeting and the session recordings available soon after the conference, I felt that despite being so busy in Boston, I could still view and enjoy much of the other material I would have otherwise missed. The conference site does a great job to facilitate both an in-person and a virtual conference experience.

If you have questions, comments, or want to follow up, please let me know (ayoungki@hshsl.umaryland.edu).

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