Can We Be Honest With Each Other?

I think we’ve know each other long enough that we can be totally open and honest with each other (I reach over and touch you on the knee).  This is our pattern… First UGIC will make a big deal about some looming arbitrary abstract deadline (April 3rd, 2017) to present at UGIC 2017 in Park City.  Then as this psudo-deadline comes and goes, then the UGIC Board will magically extend the deadline a couple of weeks (April 17th, 2017) in an effort to make you think that you’ve been given a ‘second’ chance to do what you should have done in the first place.

But I’m going to break this pattern of placating semantics and manipulation.  Here’s the truth, the volunteers on the UGIC Board need some time to do the very labor intensive task of parsing through the abstract submissions, grouping them by similar topics, analyzing the agenda for scheduling conflicts, accommodating individual schedules, and honestly making an attempt to arrange a very dynamic and fragmented agenda into a smooth conference experience for UGIC members.  This literally takes hours and hours of focused effort (volunteer focused effort) to do right.
So now that I’ve let you see behind the UGIC curtain, I need you to do your part for this geo-relationship.  Membership participation at our conference (including presenting, displaying maps and apps in the gallery, and helping out where you can) is ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL to having a healthy professional organization and conference.  Currently we don’t have enough abstracts submitted to fill our conference agenda.  We need UGIC membership to step up and participate by submitting abstracts sooner rather than later.  So you and I can continue to play these hurtful games of deadlines, extensions, and waiting until the last minute (I put my hands flat against my chest and look at you with squinty eyes while I shake my head from side to side)… or we can be proactive and intentional about our geo-relationship and take responsibility for our own actions.  I’m so glad we had this talk.



I’d like to share a few details about the process of conference presentations as well as highlight the importance of presenting your work at UGIC.

Why should you present at UGIC?
Many of us have a concept in our minds that presenting at a conference is just, “not something I do“.  We identify ourselves as “non-presenters“.    For some it’s the fear of public speaking, for some they don’t want to take the time to prepare, some want to attend the conference and “take a break” and not stress about presenting, and others feel like their work isn’t worthy of sharing.  As with any decision in our lives, conference presentations need to pass our personal cost benefit analysis.  No matter how pious we are, we are still swayed by, “what’s in it for me” thinking.  Usually the personal benefits of presenting (and there are personal benefits) are not enough to motivate us to go through the effort of presenting.  However, when we consider the overall benefit to ourselves, to other UGIC members, and to the organization as a whole presenting becomes a little more tempting.  The following is a list of 5 good reasons to present at UGIC 2016.  It is not the only list nor is it the best list, but my hope is that after reading through these I can convince you to submit an abstract and present at UGIC.

5 Reasons to Present at UGIC 2017:

  1.  Participating in UGIC Keeps the Organization Strong:  UGIC is a grassroots ‘member driven‘ organization.  The health of any grassroots organization is directly related to the passion and activity of its membership.  If the UGIC membership becomes indifferent and passive then UGIC stops being a thing.  Conversely if UGIC’s members are excited about the group and actively promote the organization and it’s goals, then we become a strong and thriving organization.
  2. Presenting Adds Your Voice to the Discussion: At times we wrongly assume that there is only one ‘best way’ to do things.  In reality there can be many ‘best ways’ to do things.  This is true in geospatial as well.  Approach presenting at the conference from a place of adding to the conversation rather than trying to be the official way to do things.  Your way, might not be the best way, but it is A way.  And we become better geospatial professionals when we expand our view of the way things can be done.  Innovation is born of unique and diverse points of view.
  3. Public Speaking Sucks: You may argue that public speaking sucks… ah, touche.  Public speaking can be a challenge.  But honestly, the UGIC conference is really laid back.  We’ve never had any incidents of heckling or bashing of presenters.  It’s not like we are presenting before the Supreme Court or a Congressional Committee.   A UGIC presentation is usually done before a group of 20 to 30 kind and understanding colleagues who understand you better then anyone else. These people understand what it’s like to have Ar**ap crash on you, they’ve seen the blank looks on peoples faces when you tell them what you do for a living, they actually understand what a coordinate system is and how it… well I won’t get carried away.  The bottom line is that public speaking doesn’t get any easier than this.
  4. Presenting Builds Connections: When we present at the UGIC conference we cultivate connections with other UGIC members that we may not have meet otherwise.  Our more introverted members don’t really value ‘connections‘ but think about who is attending your presentation.  Not only are these geo-geeks like you, but they read your abstract and decided they wanted to come and hear your presentation over everything else offered at that time… including the option to go take a nap!  So even if we don’t value connections, we must see the value in connecting with people (real people, not internet tolls or avatars) who are interested in what we are doing.
  5. Personal Benefits (What’s in it for Me): When we present at the UGIC conference, we are forced to take time to organize our thoughts, define our business goals, spruce up a demo or some data, see things from other perspectives, and document our processes that we may not have done otherwise.  We are eligible for more credits toward our professional certifications.  We get more swag (presenters get extra conference swag).  We can add conference participation to our resume.  In many cases, potential employers are attending your presentation giving you the opportunity to show off your geo-ninja skillz.  You can expect a fan base to form as you present consistently at times evolving into an organized fan club including groupies.  It’s usually easier to sell your organization on conference attendance if you are slated to present at the conference.  Furthermore, you come across like a Boss to your boss if you are scheduled to present your work at a statewide geospatial conference… we won’t tell anybody how relaxed the atmosphere is.  In many ways, presenting at the UGIC conference legitimizes you as a straight gangster in the geo-spatial community.

Details About Presenting:

The first step in presenting is to submit an abstract.  An abstract is a short (1500 characters) description of your presentation highlighting the major points.  You don’t have to put together a polished product in order to submit an abstract.  Just define your idea and outline some talking points.  You will get to select a ‘track’ or a general topic for your presentation that will allow the UGIC board to group similar presentations into sessions or blocks of sessions. After the abstract deadline has passed the UGIC board will review the submissions and notify those selected to present… it’s not like it sounds, if you submit you will almost certainly be accepted although the Board may ask you to be flexible with the schedule and length of your presentation.  Then you will be scheduled into the agenda (you do have some input on when you are available).  Then you come and present at UGIC and you live happily ever after.

Types of Presentations:

  • 5 – 10 minute ‘micro-talk’ – This is just like it sounds, quick and to the point.  Simple and effective.
  • 20 minute breakout session – This type of presentation usually takes half of a breakout session and is the perfect length to do a brief overview of your work, maybe a short demo, and field questions.
  • 40 minute breakout session – This type of presentation is a little more in depth and is perfectly suited for a larger project or a team or group presentation.
  • 90 minute workshop – These are deep dive type sessions that either cover one topic in detail or cover a wide range of topics.  Only a few of these sessions are available.
  • Map Gallery – This is a chance to show off that really cool map or project you’ve put together.  The map galley is always a conference favorite as attendees browse the gallery during breaks and socials.  Map-geeks love maps so the Map Gallery is a great way to participate in the conference
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