I made a promise to my director not to present this year. Have to get my thesis done! But I've presented four times during my residency, and I think it is an excellent thing to do. Here is why:
1) It will give you more incentive to get to the conference where you can meet other scholars in your field. Networking is a critical part of academic work (I am not the best at it, but I try). And being in touch with what is new and breaking in your field is important - waiting for the articles to get published is a lot slower. The other side of this is that academics is lonely work - we need all the community we can get! Plus, if you go to the right conferences you get to hang out with me!
2) If you are working at a post-graduate level then you are hopefully making a contribution to your field. If you want to get your ideas out there fast then conferences are the way to go. It is not as hard as one might think getting accepted - I've written four proposals and presented four times. It also gets the word out as to what you are doing so that other scholars can connect their students to you to keep the conversation growing.
3) Presenting to your peers is the best way to get your research into the place where it can be challenged, encouraged and shaped. This year the CTS has reshaped their formats to improve the interaction between presenter and academics. This could be one of the best chances you have to find out how to shape your work so that it will not only be a unique contribution, but one that will benefit theology as a whole.
4) How can you ever get enough speaking practice? Especially in an environment where you aren't explaining basic concepts, but working on the area of your greatest passion.
5) If you present you get first dibs on financial assistance. Many societies have these perks. When you are a student, every little bit helps.
6) I'm sure there are more, but I'll finish with the all important resume. Yup, if you want to make that resume impressive then you better show that you are interested in contributing to the academic culture.
See my last post for details on proposing a presentation for the CTS. Hope to see you there in May.