The WIN Annual Communicating Nursing Research Conference is very different than many clinically oriented conferences that you may have attended in the past. The WIN Annual Conference is focused on nursing research and evidence-based practice, education, and scholarship. Every area you can imagine is represented, including academic methods and program evaluation, quality improvement, and research and evidence-based practice from many different specialty areas. A few keynote sessions feature longer presentations of a researcher’s work or specialty area. Most of the presentations are in breakout sessions that feature 5 or 6 speakers on a similar topic. Each speaker gets 10 minutes to present their talk, followed by a few minutes for questions. Posters are presented in half-day sessions. All of this rapid turnover of speakers and presenters can be a little confusing, but the conference is designed this way to give many researchers, students, faculty, and clinicians an opportunity to present their work. So, a few tips to get the most out of the conference…

I’m attending this conference for the first time as a student

  • Look through the schedule and mark some of the talks and posters that pique your interest, either because of the topic, the presenter, the methods, or the tools.
  • Schedule an appointment with your advisor or mentor before the conference. Go through the schedule and see what your advisor/mentor can add as far as other topics that might be interesting, methods that are complimentary to your own interests, or other speakers that might add to your knowledge.
  • Attend the first-timer breakfast on the first morning of the conference! You’ll get a good start to your day, get some good advice, and meet some people in a similar situation.
  • Attend the student breakfast to talk about how WIN can help you, as a student as well as  after you graduate…plus there is breakfast.
  • Speaking of meeting people, bring business cards if you have them. When you exchange cards with someone, jot down any follow-up items or special interests on their card so you remember…” qualitative methods expert”…”pediatric heme/onc NP using guided imagery to reduce nausea”…whatever. You won’t remember this later, I promise.
  • If there is a nurse scholar whose work you use or want to use, introduce yourself to them.  Most people are more than willing to discuss their passion with you.
  • If you see someone with a ribbon that shows they are a WIN officer, be sure to introduce yourself and talk with them about WIN – they can answer questions for you.
  • Attend some of the lunch sessions…these are great opportunities to interact with experts on a more personal level. You have to pick your lunch topic when you register, and they do add a little bit to the cost. I have attended great lunch sessions to hear from NINR leaders about NIH fellowships and training opportunities, how to turn an idea into a manuscript, and other great topics. Maybe your school can help you with the cost, it never hurts to ask.
  • Plan to attend one breakout session on a topic that you know nothing about, but that you always wanted to learn a little about. Just because… you never know what you might learn or who you might meet.
  • Try to see as many posters as possible. The poster authors are by their poster for part of the session, some for longer than others. This is a great way to meet people who are interested in your ideas. Poster authors often have copies of their poster for people to take, and this usually has their contact information
  • Ask questions! There is always time for questions at the end of the talks, or while you are looking at posters. Write your questions down if it helps you remember them. If you feel nervous going up to the microphone, ask the presenter at the end of the session.
  • Have some fun while you are at the conference, it’s not often that we get a little break from school.

I’m presenting a poster

  • Whoo-hoo, congratulations!
  • Be sure to read the information about poster sessions at the “Presenter’s Corner” on the WIN website.  This is great information!
  • There is a one hour time period during your 4 hour poster session that you are asked to be at your poster to answer questions. If it’s possible, try to spend more time at your poster, as much as possible. It’s an incredible opportunity to meet people who are interested in your work! I have met fellow PhD students, faculty, clinicians with similar interests, and even an editor from a major journal.
  • Standing at your poster is hard on your feet and legs, so wear comfortable shoes.
  • Develop and rehearse a 2 minute “elevator talk” for the question “Can you tell me about your study/project/work?” Practice this with your advisor so that it is smooth. Ask them to ask you some typical questions so that you can have answers ready.
  • It’s nice to have a one page copy of your poster to give to people who are interested. Bring about 75 copies, and be sure to put your contact information on it.
  • Enjoy the experience! Many people are nervous, especially if it’s your first time, but this is a celebration of your great work!

 I’m doing a podium presentation

  • Whoo-hoo, congratulations!
  • Be sure to review Dr. Lentz’s video on the WIN website on giving a research presentation in 10 minutes.
  • You will have 10 minutes. That’s all. There will be a moderator who is timing your presentation, and their job is to keep things on time. They have cards that they will show you at various times during your talk to display remaining time-5 minutes, 2 minutes, 1 minute, and STOP. Don’t let the cards fluster you, but plan your use of time.
  • Be focused! With only 10 minutes, it is better to do a great talk on a concise topic than to try to cover every detail of your research/EBP project. It’s hard because you invested a LOT of time and effort in this project, but you have to condense to 10 minutes.
  • No more than 10 slides! (plus your cover slide, funding slide, and a “thank you” slide) Even if you are nervous and talking fast, you cannot cover more material in 10 minutes.
  • Practice, practice, practice
  • Do a dress rehearsal (at least once, better if more) of your talk at school, with faculty or with your colleagues.
  • Your Powerpoint will be on a laptop in front of you, but often speaker notes don’t work.
  • Enjoy the moment! Most people are nervous about talking in front of an audience, but this is your chance to shine and get other people excited about your great work!