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 afterwards to talk to people who might not have spoken up during the Q-and-A.
Use slides — correctly. 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 questions.
■ Throw in a couple of jokes or share some of your day-to-day experiences if they’re 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
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.