By Emma Spence
It can be incredibly daunting to present at your first international conference, but it needn’t be. There are innumerable resources readily available to help you construct the perfect presentation- from what to put on your PowerPoint slides to how to prepare for questions. This post addresses a few practical considerations for conference newbies.
1) Know your environment
Visit the room that you are due to present in as soon as you can when you arrive at the conference. This way you will be familiar with the room layout and can better visualize your presentation during your final practice run. Also, knowing how the room is laid out, where you’ll stand, and whether or not for example there is a lectern or whether you would have to hold notes etc will ease your anxiety on the day of your presentation.
2) Learn from others
If possible go and see other presentations before your own so that you know what to expect. How did others present? Did they sit and read, stand and point, or pace up and down? What worked? What was off-putting? Should you change your technique? How do your PowerPoint slides compare in terms of clarity and function as a visual aid? Seeing first-hand how others present will help you improve your own presentation style.
3) Know what to expect
Arrive to your session early and with plenty of time to load your PowerPoint on to the PC. Double check the running order with the session conveners. Will the Chair use prompt sheets to ensure timely presentations? Will questions follow each presentation or will they come at the end of the session? Knowing what to expect will help ease tension in the build-up to delivering your presentation.
4) Do what feels comfortable
We all want to be able to deliver impeccable note-free enthusiastic and inspiring Ted-like lectures of our research. In reality, especially in the earlier stages of our academic careers, we’re a little shakier. So when deciding whether to present with or without notes- do what feels comfortable- whether that is reading from your notes, or going freestyle. As long as you are well prepared and can deliver your material confidently and with some enthusiasm, the audience will forgive any over-reliance on notes.
5) Enjoy it!
The audience is there because they want to hear about your work, so reward them with an enthusiastic, engaging, and enjoyable presentation. The more you enjoy it, the better the reception from the audience will be.
6) Don’t rush off
As tempting as it may be to dart to the nearest pub as soon as you’ve been clapped back to your seat, don’t rush off right away. Take your time leaving and speak with people in the audience. Chances are they’ll have some helpful suggestions and/or some nice things to say about your presentation that were not covered in the Q&A- so go seek them out.
7) Rookie mistake
And finally, when you’re done DON’T FORGET TO COLLECT YOUR USB STICK!!
Got any more tips? What do you wish you knew before you presented at your first international conference? Share your experiences…