It is that time of year where we make the decision in our professional practice to choose a new adventure. You know the one. Taking that bold leap into the abyss from classroom to concurrent session room into the conference world of presenting. You have a idea, you submit a proposal and it is accepted. Woohoo! Travel plans, hotel room, business cards, what to wear, handouts, door prizes... am I ready? Maybe...
Here are a few tips I learned along the way from other presenters to the front of the room:
ON YOUR WAY TO PRESENTING
1. Ask questions. Don't assume every conference is alike.
2. Be on top of paperwork, requests for materials, and submitting your bio. You will be more likely asked to return if you are easy to work with.
3. Be nice. No one cares if your plane was late, your phone battery dies, or if your siatica is acting up. Smile, be friendly and thank the volunteers you encounter for their time. The most important volunteer is the presider (door person) who is checking in people at the door of your session and assisting you with materials.They will also evaluate you. Were you aware?
IN YOUR SESSION
4. Speak to your audience with respect. I am likely to walk out of your session if you refer to a room of adults as boys and girls. Terms of endearment should be saved for people you know.
5. No one cares about your back story. Keep it brief. Many sessions are unsatisfying for attendees because the presenter may not manage their time well and they are unable to finish the presentation. Attendees want to know what you know now, your conclusions and solutions.
6. Provide the sound bite. Let's face it. You are presenting to a group that will go home and share what they have learned. They will post to Twitter to share with their PLN. They want to quote you. Give them something to post.
7. Give attendees an idea or ideas that they can put to good use tomorrow. Sharing a complete program is great, but ideas are more likely to be used if one can start small and build to a complete program. I may follow through with an idea if I have to wait six months to implement it.
8. Say thank you and move to the hall for questions at the end of the session. Offer your card. Set up a back channel where attendees can contact you for further questions. Just make sure you end on time. The next presenter and set of attendees would like to get into the room as soon as possible so that they may start on time.
9. Finally, take a moment to reflect on your own experience. What worked; what can you do better? Was this the conference for you? Did you enjoy presenting? What did you learn?
10. Remember to complete the followup materials for the conference planners in a timely manner. They need your input to improve the conference from year to year.
With careful planning and courtesy, your presenting experience will be a positive one. Enjoy the journey!