The best events, in my opinion, have the following characteristics:
- Accurate marketing in advance so you know what you are really signing up for
- Presentations and activities based on relevant topics at the right pitch for the audience
- Presentations delivered by interesting and knowledgeable speakers
- Time to talk to other attendees and share ideas
- Practical ideas that you can do something with at the end of the event
But mostly something good will come out of any event you go to - even if it's not part of the main program. It could be that you meet someone working on a similar project to you and swap ideas, sometimes just one thing that one speaker says makes the whole day worth while, or it could even just be that the time you had out of the office gave you a chance to think things through in a different way.
I have spoken a bit at a few small events now - all with relatively small and non-threatening audiences. But it's time to do bigger things soon. I can't guarentee I'll be much good at this, but I am certainly a whole load better than I used to be. Public speaking used to make me feel sick. It doesn't have that effect anymore, and I am starting to enjoy it to a point, but it is still very stressful. This is partly what makes me so sure I need to do more of it!.
I have less experience of this, but have been involved in supporting event organisation. I've organised exhibition stands and staff training sessions etc. but nothing as exciting as a conference, for example.
However, it's one of the things on my list of stuff I'd like to have a go at, and I'm looking out for opportunities both in my day job, and through my CILIP WM role.