Have You Presented at a Large Conference Before? Any Suggestions?

This February I will be presenting at a state technology conference in Virginia. I've been to enough presentations to know what I don't like, and being the perfectionist that I am, I want to make sure I don't make those suffer who attend. I get these pictures in my mind of a bobbing head up front that sounds like Charlie Brown's teacher (the trumpet sound). What advice do you have for keeping your participants actively engaged? What did you do that was successful? Did you do anything that made you say, "I'll never do THAT again?" When you got your evaluations returned to you, did you learn something that can be shared with other presenters? Thanks ahead of time!

Tags: VSTE

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Hi Brian,

First, you'll be fine.

Second, if you use a powerpoint be sure to see Death by Powerpoint.

Also be sure to work in some audience participation. Hands-on is the best (though not always possible), allowing participants to talk to each other, ask questions etc.

It would be helpful to know what you're presenting to be more specific but those are a few tips.
My exact title is, "Breaking Into the Mind of the Unmotivated Student: How to Lower a Teacher's Stress Level." The benefit of this is that I will have to practice what I preach!
I can't say I've done this workshop before. I'd be interested to hear what you present.

My idea about getting participants involved still fits. There are opportunities to have them talk to each other and role play difficult students for example.
I'll second Matthew--get people involved in the presentation. Also, make sure you work the room. Walk into the audience if you can. This is a good tactic to help you "connect" with the people who are listening to your presentation.
I presented at NECC for five years and around my state and district for more than I can count. I think humor is the key, I like a fast paced presentation. When I was presenting I wanted to share as much as I could in the time available--here's my feeling about tech workshops/presentations in general: if you were interested in something the presentor said there wasn't enough time to pursue it right then and if you weren't interested in what they said they seemed to drone on and on--here's my fix. I went through the material very quickly. I then had sequential handouts and an online webpage so you could easily go back on your own time and find the part of my presentation you wanted to further explore.

I agree with Matthew-- read what you can on using powerpoint to your advantage. Use a screen capture to capture webpages you want to share, then you don't have to worry about internet access or speed. Good luck--sounds like fun.
Thanks, Nancy and Matthew--and I don't know how many conferences I've been to when the Internet went down and the presenter had that deer-in-the-headlights look. I think screen shots are in order, 'eh?
Over the last two years, I have been gaining more experience in this area. The best advice I received was that you will always be nervous and that it means you care.

It has been helpful to me to start my presentation with something comfortable for me to present and something that tells both the thesis and hooks in the audience.

Good luck.
You're right about being nervous--the room holds over 100 people. EEEeekkkk!
Good ideas. I went to a workshop once and felt like was surrounded by a used car salesman training session. The three presenters were screaming, smiling so much that their faces were stretched from ear to ear, and put on a skit that made me want to run out screaming.
I tried something new last time I presented that seemed to go well. After every slide (every 3 minutes or so), I had questions for the audience members to talk about in pairs (for about a minute and a half). The engagement level was great and I think people left with a lot of attachment to the topic since they had been so invested in it.
Nice idea! This would also help me realize if the audience is engaged or not.
While I have never presented at a technology conference before, I have presented at our state art ed conference many times. First and foremost, be enthusiatic about your topic. There is nothing worse than going to a workshop where the presenter drones on and on with no enthusiasm - if you are bored with your topic why should I be interested? Have handouts that are detailed enough so I can return home & recall what you discussed - after attending several workshops they tend to start blurring together. DON'T distribute your handouts till the end of your workshop so that you have everyone's attention AND you don't have the disruption of those who rush in just to get your handout and then rush out to go to the next workshop. I always like to see the topic "in action" - even if I don't get to actually participate, include student samples if appropriate. I always appreciate discussion on how different topics/software/techniques/??? can be incorporated into a variety of curriculums. Also, be upfront about the grade level or audience your presentation is geared towards. And last - give your participants your e-mail address for if they have questions afterwards.

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