November 16th, 2010
Several Cardiology Fellows who are attending this week’s AHA meeting are blogging together on CardioExchange. The Fellows include Susan Cheng, Madhavi Reddy, John Ryan, and Amit Shah. Check back often to learn about the biggest buzz in Chicago this week — whether it’s a poster, a presentation, or the word in the hallways. You can read the preceding post here.
Yesterday was my first time presenting at AHA.
I arrived early in the morning to upload my slides, as we had been instructed by the IT staff to have our talks on the system three hours before our scheduled session. And after Susan had described the technical difficulties of the day before, I did not want to have a similar experience.
Later in the morning, my mentor Kim Williams called me to practice our presentation. As we started to rehearse, we realized that we could add some more statistics into the presentation. This process consumed us right up to the start of our session “What’s new in nuclear cardiology.” So despite my previous organization, I had to jump to the top of the queue at the speakers’ resource center and ask the staff to re-load my talk.
I then left the lofty heights of Hall A and walked to the smaller rooms closer to Lake Michigan. This was the first formal scientific conference at which I have presented data. Over the last few days I have been struck by the solemn, serious tone of the presentations. Unlike CCU conferences that we present at during fellowship, these were taciturn discussions of science with no room for jokes or inaccuracies. To say that I was nervous would be an understatement. I am not normally anxious about talks, but this was so different from what I was used to.
I was scheduled to talk after the intermission in the afternoon. However, when the last speaker scheduled for before the break was late, I was asked to substitute. I guess I should have said no. One would think that it would not matter, because at this stage, I knew our data very well and had been freshly working on stats, and so I agreed to present before the intermission. But it did shake me unnecessarily, which was foolish. In hindsight, I did not have sufficient mental preparation and flew through my slides in what felt like a whirlwind. Halfway through, I realized this, and I managed to pace myself and get across more of our finer points . Still, the question session was a struggle, with fair but tough questions, which I was unprepared for.
As I was leaving the room at the start of intermission, I saw a half dozen fellow friends of mine coming down the hall to attend my talk. A senior faculty member from Boston also was coming to hear me speak. It was quite touching to see so many of them prepared to make the long walk to the Eastern conference room to show support and solidarity. And although I had initially felt defeated because I did not do as good a job as I would have liked, seeing the support that my colleagues were willing to offer me was heart-warming and inspiring. Next time, though, I will insist on sticking with the time initially assigned for me.
What have others experienced while presenting at AHA? Do people remember the first time they presented? Any advice to those who are still about to give a talk?