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10 Tips for presenting at conferences

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1 10 Tips for presenting at conferences
Guide for students presenting their first seminar

2 Relax … take a deep breath
1.       Teachers could relax a little more when presenting. Most times, they look very efficient and a little grim. Your topics may be serious, but your approach need not always be solemn and staid. Smile!

3 Tell a story 2.       You may be prepared but you don’t always have to stick rigidly to your text.  Tell a story or give examples to illustrate your point. As listeners, we all remember stories or examples better than hard facts.  But then again, don’t just tell stories (see point 4), especially stories of you having a good time that have nothing to do with the topic! Get your main point out quickly before your audience’s attention is gone. 

4 Handout please … 3.       Participants appreciate your handout. Try to prepare more handouts than is necessary. If you don’t have enough, do give them an or information on where they can get access to a soft copy. This reduces anxiety among participants and they can settle down to listen without fretting.

5 So what? 4.       When preparing your presentation, it’s always useful to ask the “so what?” question. We all work hard at our paper and presentation but we often forget that participants who are there want to be able to take something away from your presentation for their own context. If you can ask yourself the “so what?” question, you will be forced to think of the key points of your presentation. You will also then think of the implications of your study or report for people in other contexts.  Presenting is not just for you; it’s for your audience too. Consider their needs seriously. 

6 K.I.S.S 5.       The K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple and Sweet). No matter how much wonderful data you have collected, participants do suffer from conference fatigue and may not be able to absorb that much information. This is especially when you are presenting after lunch or in the late afternoon.  Stick with the crucial bits and put the rest of the information into your handout.

7 Talk to your audience 6.       Never, never read from your PowerPoint alone or from your notes, standing at the podium. Get away from the podium if possible. Use a remote control so that you don’t have to stand next to your computer. You will be able to establish more rapport with your audience when you are closer to them. Maintain eye contact with as many members of your audience as is possible for you.  

8 Stop with the bell 7.       And when you have signaled the end of your talk, end it soon. Don’t keep going on and on after saying “and now finally” for the umpteenth time.  

9 Manage your time 8.       Leave enough time for questions. If you find you are running out of time, cut short your presentation but allow time for questions.  Your audience should be more important than presenting all your points.

10 Listen to your audience
9.       Remember, that above all, participants are there to listen and share in your work. They often can and do have different views to offer. Try not to be too defensive about your work. Listen carefully to their views or questions  before answering. Keep your answer succinct, if possible so that you can take more questions. Don’t allow one person to monopolise the time.  Often too, an answer is not required if a participant is merely making an observation.

11 Say Thank You 10.   Thank your audience for coming and for listening. It’s only courteous to do so. And be courteous throughout. Perhaps this should have been the number one tip!

12 Norizan Ahmad THANK YOU

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