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Consider giving a lightning talk

Editor’s note: Lightning Talks is one of more than 100 sessions being offered at the 2011 CAR Conference in Raleigh Feb. 24-27. This session consists of short, (no longer than five minutes), presentations proposed and voted on by conference attendees. See the current proposals and votes here.

By Michelle Minkoff

IRE Member

Some quick notes from a former Lightning Talker.  I gave one last year at both NICAR and IRE, as a student and an intern.  I think each time it really helped me break further into the NICAR community + get the experience to be ready (I hope!) to lead a hands-on lab and participate in a panel this go-around:

1. Everyone has something to share.  Whether you’re a student taking your first CAR class, or a seasoned professional, I bet there’s some trick or experience you’ve had in data analysis, storytelling and/or presentation that made you at least say “That was cool.”  And at Lightning Talks, many other people who could probably use that trick, or relate to your experience, will surround you. What you take for granted is new to others. YOU have something to contribute!

2. As much as I love the “big names”, and by that I mean both individuals and institutions, it’s really important that any people who want to present, and aren’t doing full sessions, get their ideas/thoughts out there.  This is a true democratic process, which is great.  Because we’ll never consider trying something new until we start at least thinking about it.  If you’re wondering how you get those ideas out there, here’s a way to start.  And the next year, if you’re interested in investing more time and effort, you’ll be better prepared to take part in a full panel or hands-on lab.

3. It’s especially useful if you’re seeking to meet more people/integrate into the CAR community.  It helped me meet a lot of people who recognized me from getting up there, or had questions about the tool I discussed. Yes, this includes future employers, but also a big data-loving family that can help you as you continue to pick up new skills.  It takes some courage to get up there, sure, and the community gets, respects and remembers that.
So, what are you waiting for?  Some good examples are posted already: http://ire.aronpilhofer.com/

Make your pitch — it’s just five minutes.

Michelle Minkoff works for PBS News and is an IRE Member. This message was originally posted on NICAR-L.


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