Greg Packman, Aboricultural Officer at The Royal Parks, tells us about his experience of presenting at the National Tree Officers Conference (NTOC) in 2017.
Why did you decide to submit an abstract?
It was originally suggested to me by a friend who attended the conference that I should consider doing this because I have built up a considerable experience and knowledge of Massaria through my work. As Massaria isn’t as well known outside of London but becoming discovered more around the country, it would be a subject that would be very applicable for the conference and one that there would be interest in. Sharing of knowledge and experiences is such an important educational tool that I felt that this was an important thing to do.
How did you plan your presentation?
I spent about 30 hours working on the presentation in total! Fortunately I was able to base it on my own experiences and knowledge, combined with others experienced with Massaria and the existing guidance documents and research. I broke the presentations into sections, starting with the context of Massaria in The Royal Parks and how our management will differ to other organisations and authorities due to our visitor numbers. Following this, a section on the research and our understanding of the biology so far; then identification methods for ground based surveys, management and finally what the future may hold for Massaria, areas to research and to build our understanding etc. As the presentation was primarily aimed at identification it needed to be very visual so I spent a lot of time getting the right images and building it into the presentation. Condensing everything I wanted to say into a 20min presentation was quite tricky as I can talk about Massaria for hours!
What did you learn from the experience?
That as nerve racking as it is leading up to the presentation, if you put the work into planning and preparation, deliver the content with confidence and know your subject all will be well! Despite the large audience number everyone is on your side and it’s a friendly place, we all have experiences and knowledge worth sharing and the people who would attend a conference like this value what you have to say. The self-imposed pressure to deliver a good presentation pushed me to research and learn more about the subject; leading up to it, as daunting as it may seem, once you’re on stage talking it is actually quite an enjoyable experience! Due to the variety of roles that tree officers undertake as well as our own career histories and personal interests or projects everyone has something worth saying from research to community engagement to innovative work practices as examples; being in the audience for the rest of the conference I learnt a lot as well from the other speakers.
What positive impact did it have on you?
This was the first time I had spoken to a group of more than 30 people at once; jumping up to around 240 was a huge leap and very daunting but afterwards you feel a huge sense of accomplishment, especially when people want to ask you questions or find out more afterwards and say well done. As someone who isn’t a fan of big occasions, being the centre of attention for any period of time or ‘having all eyes on me’ so to speak, getting up on the stage was a big challenge. Just prior to my presentation I was tempted to ask a friend to do the presentation for me! Basically, it’s a big sense of pride and achieving a real career mile stone; it’s also made me more confident and comfortable at the prospect of doing something similar again. I would strongly recommend anyone to submit an abstract for future conferences, the opportunity is fantastic and is important to showcase the role of tree officers, many of whom are leading the way in some areas of arboriculture.
You can view all the NTOC’s presentations on the Resource section of the Institute’s website.
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