How To Shape Proposals and Presentations

Submitting a proposal:  Send an abstract (no longer than 100 words) describing your presentation topic and a short biographical blurb to Chris Allan, 2016 Program Chair,  The abstracts will be used to group presentation topics into categories to give shape to the conference schedule.  In addition, a stand-alone list of abstracts will be available at the conference to help conference-goers to find the presentations they want to see.  The biographical information you provide can include, in some combination:  where you live, school you are attending, employer, current projects, and/or organization membership.

This is an example from a previous conference:

The Whaler and the Prince:  Tracing the Origins of the Kobuk River Gold Stampede

At a time when the world was abuzz with news of Klondike gold, a whaling captain named Bernard Cogan had an idea—why not start a gold stampede of his own?  Cogan figured he could profit by convincing gold-seekers to try the distant and unproven Kobuk River.  One of the men who took an interest in the Kobuk was Prince Luigi of Italy.  The prince financed a group of prospectors who set sail on the schooner Jane Gray.  The ship sank and 37 people drowned, but this could not stop one of Alaska’s most dramatic and least known gold stampedes.  [100 words]

Chris Allan is a historian for the National Park Service and works on topics related to Gates of the Arctic National Park & Preserve and Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve.  Mr. Allan serves on the Alaska Historical Society Board and contributes articles to Alaska History.

Panels and Posters:  Panels are groups of up to 4 people who want to present on a single topic, each in his or her own way.  For example, a panel might address “Libraries and Archives of the North” or “World War II in Alaska” from various perspectives in the course of 1½ hours.  Panels have a moderator who introduces the panelists and helps to monitor the time.A poster submission is just that—a poster, typically with text and illustrations, that illustrates a historically important topic in Alaska’s past.  The poster can stand alone where it will be viewed by conference participants or you can sit with your poster to explain and discuss it with passers-by.

Audio-Visual Equipment:  The appropriate equipment will be available to make your presentation possible.  This includes:  a laptop computer loaded with Powerpoint software, a projector, and a screen.  Please make sure to load your presentation file onto the laptop well in advance of your presentation—this usually means the day before or the morning of your presentation.  There will also be a microphone to help your voice reach the audience.  If you have special needs (like recorded audio or film), please let us know in advance.

Presentation Length:  The length of individual presentations is limited to 20 minutes.  This may not seem like much time, but in this context brevity is a virtue.  You will have time to introduce your topic, present a few highlights, and conclude while (if you chose) presenting a batch of Powerpoint slideshow images.  Practice your presentation at home so that you do not exceed the time limit.  A good rule of thumb for presenting Powerpoint images is 1 per minute. This means no more than 20 slides for a 20 minute presentation.  It is also good to remember that slides full of text are difficult for the audience to read and can seriously detract from your presentation.  Most people cannot listen and read at the same time, so either you will lose your listening audience while they read your slide, or they will just listen and not look at the slides. And, if you enjoy answering questions at the end of your presentation (and we know audiences like asking them), then limit your presentation to 15 minutes to allow for Q&A.  If we all take care to stick to the 20-minute rule, our audiences will thank us and so will the presenters who follow us next on the schedule! Keeping to the schedule is also appreciated by conference participants who jump between sessions to try to catch a particular presentation.

Registering:  Please note that presenters at the conference must also be registered.  Your registration fees help to make the conference possible and to compensate the community’s local historical society for hosting the conference.  Two scholarships are available to pay for travel expenses and conference registration—one for a post-secondary student and another for an early-career historian.  For information on scholarships, contact Professor Michael Hawfield, AHS Awards Committee, or keep checking the AHS website and blog for announcement of the application period.

Proceedings:  The Alaska Historical Society would like your paper/presentation to be available in printed form for years to come.  Therefore, if you have your presentation written down either as an article or as verbatim notes, we would like you to send it to us to be reprinted as conference proceedings.  If you give a Powerpoint presentation without a written paper to accompany it, we encourage you to find time after the conference to transform it into a paper that can be reproduced in the proceedings. Some of the most interesting and valuable Alaska history has been captured in this way and can be found in libraries across the state.  However, if you do not have your paper/presentation in a format that can be included in the conference proceedings, we still encourage you to present at the conference.  Please contact the Alaska Historical Society if you have questions about how to transform your Powerpoint presentation into a printable format and useful article.