Monday, 18 March 2013

Tips for conference speaking

Maybe you've heard them all before, but here are some tips for speaking at conferences, put together whilst I was at the CAA 2013 Conference:

Powerpoint Presentations: label all images and include the names of key figures and places. It is so frustrating otherwise! Also, don't put all your captions at the bottom of the slide as people at the back will struggle to see.

Volume: when you ask 'Can you hear me ok?' make sure you get a response from people at the back, not just the front row.

Badges: make sure your badge is visible. Nothing more awkward than starting a conversation with someone you've met before and realising they have no idea who you are.

Handouts: if you are discussing complex theories or data it might be worth distributing handouts, budget permitting.

Engage with your audience: get to know your paper really well so that you do not have to read verbatim. Look at the audience, make eye contact, gesture with your hands. If people are spending  7 hours in a conference room you need to make yourself stand out. Of course, if you are speaking in a second language this is a bit more difficult.

Scan the programme for people you know: it's good to network but if you're in an unfamiliar place it can also be nice to catch up with a colleague or fellow student.

Prepare: scope out the venue before hand so that you know where you need to be. Take a bottle of water with you - buying bottled drinks in a hotel is expensive. Work out if there is wifi access and how to connect.

Connect: our session organisers at CAA organised for us speakers to meet for a drink the night before the panel. This was such a good ice-breaker and helped lessen my nerves on the day.

Don't do everything: pace yourself. Yes you've paid $100 to be there but make sure you take a break for lunch etc otherwise you won't make it to the last day.

Clothes: if you're speaking, wear something memorable (but not tooooo memorable).

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