I remember the first time I gave a presentation at a major archaeology conference. In 2005, I traveled to York, United Kingdom to give a speech at the Society for Historical Archaeology conference on what would become the focus of my MA thesis. The conference was during the first week of January, so I planned to add in a short European vacation– leaving a few days after Christmas and spending New Year’s Eve in Amsterdam before heading over to London and on to York.
I’d heard so many things about the Europeans that turned out to be part fact and part fiction (they’re much more sophisticated than Americans, dress nicer, have special etiquette rules that we don’t have ect.). I didn’t want to stick out like a sore thumb and wanted to be prepared for any and all occasions. It was winter and, based on latitude, I believed north continental Europe would be much colder than north Idaho (It is not), so I filled my bag with heavy sweaters, a thick coat, and long johns. I’d also heard that roller bags don’t work well in Europe because you have to do so much walking and there aren’t as many elevators and escalators. So, I decided to bring my hiking backpack instead of luggage. I also decided to pack clothes for as many social situations as I could think of.
My wardrobe choices were a total mistake because it made my pack weigh about 40 pounds. The clothes I brought made me look like I was on my way to church most of the time.
I made my plane reservation as soon as my passport arrived. My clothing included several suits, an extra pair of shoes, and tons of other stuff I never even used. Upon arrival at the airport, I realized I’d made a huge mistake and wish I’d scaled back on my luggage. In the end, my clothing was much too heavy for the conditions (a very warm and wet winter), so much of the time I was sweating. Fortunately, the airline lost my bag and it didn’t arrive to my hotel for almost a week. So, I was forced to buy a whole new wardrobe that was more suitable for Europe. Nevertheless, I was overdressed most of the time and didn’t need a suit at all.
My poor planning came to a head during my 15-minute presentation. At the last minute, I decided to rearrange some of the photos on my PowerPoint. I made these changes on a computer that was formatted for European Windows, which made my designer PowerPoint slide backgrounds (made in U.S. PowerPoint) turn into unsightly panels of florescent color. The images vanished and all I was left with was blank slides of random colors. Seeing my presentation decay before my very eyes made me feel very, very hot. I started sweating profusely. The 3-piece suit and tie I was wearing made matters even worse. About 10 minutes into the slideshow, drops of sweat were visibly pouring down my face and into my eyes. I was literally soaking the podium. To make matters worse, I was speaking in a completely packed room. The audience, which extended far into the hallway, all stood by while my voice quivered and quaked. They watched blank colors projected on a screen and witnessed me swim through an ocean of sweat as I tried to put together coherent thoughts.
Much of that tragedy could have been avoided had I listened to the CRM Archaeology Podcast Episode 17.
In September, the podcast tackled proper attire for conferences. If this episode had existed in 2005 before my presentation, I would have known how to dress properly for a conference and might have been saved the heavy pack and sweat ocean. There was also a special episode on women’s issues in archaeology.
Episode 17: More about archaeology clothing– After talking extensively about what to wear in the field, the CRM Podcast turns toward how to clothe yourself for conference success, among other things. It seems like this is a no-brainer, but any of us that have been to more than one conference have seen that guy dressed like a Canadian Mountie walking through the conference hall. Or, that one lady that looks like she’s ready to hit the clubs standing next submission to the poster session. I understand that nit-picking about clothes is not politically correct, but, despite our protests otherwise, archaeologists are a pretty conservative bunch. You’ve heard the saying, “the clothes make the man” (or, woman). It’s sad to say this, but that’s true.
Plus, you don’t want to end up soaking a podium with your sweat like I did.
Episode 18: Women in Archaeology, Part I– I am a man. Rarely, do I ever think about many of the things that concern women simply because some of these issues (like how to appropriately cover up one’s breasts) isn’t on my mind. Listen to Episode 18 of the CRM Podcast and learn how you can better cover them up. [Editorial: After getting lambasted as a sexist pig over my brief summary of Episode 18, I wanted to say I didn’t mean it in a derogatory way. I just wanted to mention there is much more to that episode than I stated above. It was very revealing for sexist swine like myself to hear a little about the issues facing women in archaeology today.]
The CRM Archaeology Podcast can be streamed directly from the DIGTECH website through Stitcher Radio or can be downloaded from iTunes. If you haven’t already tuned in, you really need to listen to the podcast today.
If you have any questions or comments, write below or send me an email.
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