Gevity’s Kiersten Mackie on Her Day as e-Health 2015 Conference Chair

Jerry Seinfeld once joked, “according to most studies, people's number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death…this means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you're better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.”

As someone who has ritually avoided public speaking, Seinfeld's words resonate with me. Yet, this past June I found myself facing a large crowd, speaking as conference chair at the 2015 e-Health Conference in Toronto – Canada’s only national eHealth conference and tradeshow.

As I sat in the crowd of 1600 delegates at the Toronto Convention Centre, my heart was beating so loudly I worried I might miss my introduction. Luckily, I heard my name and as I approached the conference stage, the only thing on my mind was don't fall. I am happy to report that not only did I manage to stay upright on stage but my entire day as conference chair was a huge success!

COACH, CANADA’s Health Informatics Association offered the Emerging Professionals Chair 4 the Day Video Contest. In order to enter, applicants were asked to create a 2-minute video explaining why they would make a good conference chair. Applicants were also required to be an emerging professional – a health informatics professional in the first five years of their career. Three winners were selected by the e-Health Steering Committee representatives, based on the level of eloquence, originality, creativity and charisma displayed in each applicant’s video. The three successful applicants were awarded the role of “official conference chair” for one day of the three-day conference. I was chosen for the third day, which afforded me the opportunity of welcoming delegates to the final day of the conference.

This was my first time speaking in front of a group of this magnitude and although I admit it was incredibly nerve-racking, it was also an opportunity I won't soon forget. Being a conference chair allowed me to connect with attendees and provided seemingly endless networking opportunities through exposure. Overall, it was an exhilarating day that happily allowed me to work toward overcoming my fear of public speaking. And now, even I’m surprised to admit, I am looking forward to my encore!

Kiersten Mackie is a business analysis and project management consultant with 5 years of experience in Health Informatics. She obtained her Bachelor of Science in Health Information Science, which included coursework in Epidemiology, Population Health and Public Health, from the University of Victoria.