Presenting at History Camp
→ If you want to present at History Camp, please read the information below and use the form at the bottom to submit your session. Note that all speakers must register to attend, just as all other attendees do. This ensures that we cover the costs of History Camp.
History Camp is very different from traditional conferences
- Wide ranging: You don’t have to make your presentation conform to a theme, geography, or narrow subject area, but your presentation must relate to history. You might cover historical people and events, historical research and methods, managing a historic site or history organization, careers for people who love history, teaching history, or other topics related to history. To get an idea of the breadth of topics, follow the links to History Camps in past years, though don’t worry if your topic has been covered in previous years.
- No sales pitches: Presentations should not be product, book, organization, or site pitches.
- No current or recent politics: Presentations should not include current or recent politics. (History from roughly the presidency of Richard Nixon and before is fine.)
- Many different formats: Your format might be a traditional presentation, leading a discussion with those in attendance, a round table, a panel, or a performance.
- Support your claims with facts: If your session describes historical events, you should be able to support your claims. This is especially true if what you’re planning to present goes against widely accepted beliefs. In fact, History Camp may be the ideal place for your presentation. You should be able to defend whatever you present. Merely asserting controversial things without having research that backs up your claims undermines your argument and undermines History Camp.
- All sessions may be recorded and posted online: Sharing information as broadly as possible is one of the fundamental principles of History Camp, and that means making it available to people who aren’t able to attend. Your session may be recorded and posted online or it may be live-streamed and posted. If you have things that you don’t want to appear online (on YouTube or elsewhere), don’t include them in your slides or consider a different presentation.
Making sure you have an audience: Drafting effective titles, descriptions, and bios for History Camp
Because there are several sessions going on in every time slot, you are competing for an audience. Our suggestions below will help you do just that. (We edit session titles and descriptions, as well as presenter bios, for clarity and brevity, but wish we didn’t have to.)
- Folks are looking for something interesting to them. Your session title and description should help someone who is unfamiliar with your topic understand what you’re going to discuss and why they should care. Is your topic obscure? How would you explain to someone unfamiliar with it that, although obscure, they’ll find your session fascinating. Unlike an academic conference, folks at History Camp won’t feel compelled to go to any particular session and they’ll have a wide variety to choose from.
- Titles should be clear, direct, and succinct. Throughout the day, people scan the schedule in order to decide which to attend next. Your title should be clear and easy to understand so that attendees don’t have to find and read the description in the handout to figure out what your session is about. Avoid cute, clever, or obscure. And avoid the popular construction of session titles in which something cute is followed by a colon and something that helps explain the cute lead-in comes after the colon. Don’t do what we did with the title of this section. Instead, omit the cute, omit the colon, and just use something clear and direct.
- Session descriptions should be clear, direct, and succinct. Most people will choose a session because the story sounds fascinating or it sounds like they’ll learn something useful. Your description should help them answer the question, “Will this be interesting to me?” or “How will this help me?” Use tightly-constructed prose that delivers a punch. That being said, if your topic requires background or context in order for people to determine whether they should attend, include it.
- Avoid academic prose, and do not simply adapt a title and description from an academic conference. Instead, use language that people outside of academia are familiar with. Think about how you might describe your session to relatives gathered at Thanksgiving. Does your draft title or description include words or phrases that would be mystifying
- The right length is the shortest possible in order to give your session a good chance of drawing someone who will be interested in your topic. In some cases, session descriptions are three or or four sentences; in other cases they may need to be three or more paragraphs.
- Avoid hyperbole, and cliches, and avoid stating the obvious, such as “Few have heard of . . .” or “Teachers are always looking for new ways to make history interesting . . .”
- Presenter bios should be just the facts. Start with your longest and strongest suit. For example, if you’re an author, state that and list the title of your book. Include helpful contact information, such as your website or blog, your social media accounts, or an e-mail address.
Making sure that your session goes smoothly
- There will be no technical or AV support after History Camp starts at 9 a.m. In order to ensure that my session goes smoothly, please arrive by 8:30 a.m., check in, and go to your room where there will be someone to assist you.
Please use the form below to submit your session.