Presenting at Conferences - Tips & Advice from ICGers


Thursday 23rd May 2019

ICG member Alan Terry of Vanilla Research, asked members on the forum what their advice would be in ensuring that a presentation to a Conference went well.  He has put together a summary of the adivce he received, together with an assessment of how well things went...

The Wisdom of Crowds….

A while ago I was asked to speak at a conference on behalf of a charity I’m involved with.  It had been over 15 years though since I’d last spoken formally in front of hundreds of people, and that hadn’t gone well (back in the day of a Nokia 3300 that refused to produce its ring tone via an embedded audio file).  So I turned to the ICG e-group for advice - and reassurance - and was not disappointed.  A summary of the key bits of advice was as follows:

  • Try repeating a pre-presentation mantra: "I'm glad I'm here, I'm glad you're here, I know my stuff” 
  • Set expectations - tell them what you are going to tell them, how long it will last, what they should know by the end etc
  • Asking audience questions up front (even if rhetorical), getting some interaction and involvement can also be good, depending on how big or small the conference is
  • Practise and make sure you get the opening minute right - this gives you the confident start from which everything else follows
  • Be explicitly prepared to move more quickly through the presentation.  Numerous times you’ll be told you’ve actually only got X minutes instead of the Y minutes you thought you had
  • Always have a bottle of water or glass by you
  • Give lots of eye contact to the whole room, not just the front rowIf you can, use PowerPoint’s Presenter View option, which allows you to see which slide is coming next (without having to look up at the screen)

Useful resources:

The audience was Higher Education library professionals, and despite recurring fears that my first words would be greeted with a firm ‘sssshhhhhh’, the talk went really well.  We ended by asking for donations by text, matched by the Conference organisers and ourselves, and as a result we raised over £540 in donations (plus the £540 matching).

So thank you, as always, to the collective advice and encouragement of the e-group.

For further information see www.readinglistfoundation.org