My First Time Presenting at AIHce

By Roberta Smith posted 07-26-2018 10:47 AM


What an honor it was to receive an email from Bob Lieckfield inviting me to be a part of an educational session at the 2018 AIHce.  I had attended AIHce when it was previously held in Salt Lake City and in Portland.  I have always viewed this conference as THE premier educational opportunity for industrial hygienists and knowing I was going to present was certainly going to be a highlight of my career.  As it turns out, I was actually part of 3 different sessions at the 2018 AIHce which was exceptionally thrilling.  When Bob contacted me, I was asked to be a part of a four-part laboratory session.  In his creativity, he came up with a soap opera theme entitled, “Days of our Lives: Practical Applications for the IH Laboratory and Their Customers” with each session playing off the theme.  I realized that some of my days as an IH are like a daytime drama so the fit seemed appropriate.

After the Days of our Lives, theme music played, I had the honor of presenting alongside Donna Heidel and our session was the final one of the series, “A Stranger in Town: HSE Role in Protecting Worker Encounters with Illicit Drugs”.  My part was describing our experience in Colorado with worker safety in the marijuana industry.  This was a presentation that I had given in various forms in different venues and this session was a longer overview than one I presented a day earlier in conjunction with the cannabis subcommittee.  Every time I give this presentation, I update and change the content based on the audience and new information available. I have always had some technical issues in delivering my presentation exactly how I intend to. In the past, I had videos that I had taken showing processes within cultivation facilities that when I played them in a powerpoint would spontaneously turn. When I saw attendees cranking their necks 90° I knew the videos had done it again!  Have you ever sat in a presentation and someone has a YouTube video embedded and it does not work?  Then you as the speaker have to stop, check the internet, retry and once it gets working you have to reconnect with your audience? Well, that was my old presentation. 

For the PDC I assisted with on Saturday and for the presentation I delivered on Tuesday I discovered the magic that was the “Speaker Ready Room”.  When I went to upload my presentation for Wednesday I knew of previous issues I had had with my videos and YouTube links.  This was THE premier educational opportunity and I did not want to lose my audience on lousy videos.  So I casually asked the assistant in the room about my presentation drama issues.  I mentioned that the videos turned and the links never seemed to pick up on the YouTube site.  Within seconds the technician in the ready room and I were reviewing my presentation together and the technician started checking out what I had.  He let me know that videos that are taken with an iPhone turn in powerpoint unless you change the video format.  So without hesitation, he fixed this for me.  We went through all of my videos and converted them and reinserted them to the presentation.  At this point, he had achieved genius status in my mind. As I was sitting there receiving this awesome attention to my presentation, I couldn’t help but think of Jimmy Fallon’s portrayal of Nick Burns, Your Company’s Computer Guy on Saturday Night Live. As an added benefit to the process, I was able to practice my presentation by describing to him the hazards of the marijuana industry. After converting my many videos, I didn’t want to push my luck but brought up the issue of my YouTube links.  Of course, he had a solution for me.  He showed me how to download the clip and save it as a file into my presentation.  It was fantastic!  The Speaker Ready Room staff were all wizards who performed magic so that I could shine in my presentation.

My presentation later that afternoon went off without a technical hitch.  I was so grateful that I was not that presenter struggling with technical issues and could focus fully on my content. Presenting at AIHce has certainly raised the bar for me in terms of knowing the behind the scenes resources that make this conference THE conference I want to attend.  Just 3 weeks after the AIHce, I was presenting a different topic at another conference and my first question when I arrived to check in was, “Do you have a speaker ready room?”