You may remember, a couple of weeks ago I wrote a guest post about History Camp, an upcoming event at which I was invited to present. Well, what was once the future is now past–the conference was held last Saturday and it was a resounding success! Now that it’s over, I figured you might like a candid look into what the presenters have to deal with behind the scenes.
Going back to the day before, I spent most of the day writing a script for the event. Truth be told, I probably put too much time into it-it was ten pages long by the end and although I had read it out loud to get a sense of the timing, I wasn’t really able to make it sound extemporaneous. There were also a whole bunch of supplies I had to gather: books, tablet, credit card reader, sharpies, money bag, laptop & usb stick (with my slideshow on it), change, flyers, order forms, probably something I’m forgetting too. It was four boxes in the end, although half of that was just merchandise.
The event was held in the Tivoli Student Union, and I had to get there early to set up my author’s table. This entailed moving the four boxes (probably 70 pounds total?) up to the presentation area on the fourth floor. Fortunately, they had a parking lot right up against the entrance (not free, but worth every penny) and a service elevator to go up, but it was still a big haul. The actual presentation space was unusual. You had the main room, which was kind of this two-story open balcony room a little like a makeshift theater. Then there were three other presentation rooms, but they were in different hallways, and they were all on slightly different elevations so if you wanted to switch rooms you had to make a few turns and climb a few stairs. I couldn’t switch rooms because I had to stay with the author’s table all day.
Speaking of which, getting that set up was easy once I had all the materials inside. It helps that our books really speak for themselves as far as quality goes. I was set up next to an author who had written a book about baseball in Colorado Springs. He had actually worn a vintage Cubs uniform to the event, which was pretty amazing to see. There were probably about 100, 120 people once everyone had filed in, which is pretty impressive for a first-time conference.
Anyway, once the introductions were done the presentations started up. Like I said, I was stuck in the room with the author’s tables so I essentially got a “random sampling” of what the conference had to offer. And I must say, it was really impressive! There was a college professor giving a run-down of her dissertation topic: ads civil war soldiers would place in the paper imploring girls to write them letters. There was an overview of the construction of the sewers of Denver, told by the governmental historian who had to put together a report about them for the Colorado Department of Transportation. There was a discussion of the human impact on the wildlife of Colorado, from the hunting and habitat reduction of the 1800s to the reversal and reintroduction of species in recent years. And then on a more micro scale, I heard the story of a resort hotel–how it was founded, built up, expanded, why it was popular, why it faded away, how it was sold, and what has since replaced it. There was also my presentation, slotted into the mid-afternoon. You can read about the topic here. It went well, except my script ended up being too expansive for the 45-minute time slot and I had to cut a few sections. Fortunately, I realized that was going to happen before I ran out of time so I was able to recover smoothly. Sadly, one of my favorite stories did not get to see the light of day. Maybe next time…
Overall, the event went very smoothly. Everyone was very friendly, too, especially the people putting on the event, which impressed the heck out of me. I would have enjoyed it even if I hadn’t been doing a presentation on behalf of the company. I would highly recommend if someone puts a conference like this together in your area—-go!