Tips for Attending Conferences Part II

Lori Halley 02 April 2007 0 comments

In the first part of this series, I covered a few tips on attending conferences. In this closing post on getting the most out of conferences, we'll share some helpful tips for conference speakers and presenters.

So if you have been selected or volunteered to speak at a conference, these tips will help increase your presentation skills.

Before the Conference

Learn about the Conference - When you are initially asked to give a talk, often it is your choice to decide on the topic. But before that, you should make sure that you have all the information you need about the conference. Your information should include:

  • The conference date and location
  • The conference agenda to see who else is presenting
  • What the organizers would like you to do
  • What to expect from the conference and what they will offer you in terms of honorarium/fees

Prepare – Spend some time preparing and practicing your presentation and if possible, do it in front of real people. Have them give you feedback about your talk and time it as well. A lot of practice will allow you to appear more relaxed and confident. You presentation isn’t the only thing you need to prepare before the conference. You also need to get your presentation materials (slides, PowerPoint, note cards, etc.). And be prepared for some divergences from the set plan. If for example, the internet connection doesn’t work, have your PowerPoint slides on flash stick. If the slide projector isn’t working, have print-outs of your slides.

At the Conference

Arrive early and stay late - Arrive at your talk’s location at least 15 minutes early to check that the technology works. Also, plan to stick around after your talk to talk to people who may not have spoken up during the Q&A.

Using slides - Slides and other visuals help you make your point easier to understand. But don't read the slides. Instead, use them as a guide and focus on the main point to keep you on track. If you have graphs, tables or reports, print them out and pass them out as takeaway documents.

Make the talk interactive - Here are some easy strategies to make your talk interactive and keep the audience energized:

  • Integrate questions and answers throughout your presentation
  • Get the audience to participate by asking them questions
  • Throw in a couple of jokes or share some of your day-to-day experiences if they are relevant to the presentation.
  • Break up the group into small groups to discuss and solve a problem
  • Make eye contact with the audience

Stay on Time - Maintain your awareness of time throughout the presentation. True professionals never run out of time. Plan the last five minutes for an overall summary, written evaluations and last-minute questions.

After the Conference

While you’re there - After your presentation, it’s usually up to you whether or not you want to stay and attend the rest of the conference. Most conferences give presenters a day pass or a complete registration. You can learn a lot by just dropping in on other talks. You might even run into an old friend or colleague. And before you leave, take time to thank the staff and the organizers.

Once back home, fill out any reimbursement forms you might have and think about what went right and what you might change next time. The most important thing whether you are a conference attendee or a presenter is to relax and have fun.

For more presentation resources, here are great posts from Creating Passionate Users blog on Presentation How-To's, Better Beginnings: How to start a presentation and Stop your presentation before it kills again!

I hope these tips and resources were helpful and if anyone else has more ideas for getting the most out of a conference, please leave us a comment.

 

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Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Posted by Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Published Monday, 02 April 2007 at 1:30 PM

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