Conference Presenting Tips

By Allison Riggs

With ILA’s annual conference fast approaching in October, presenters are beginning to prepare for their sessions. Will you be presenting at a professional conference sometime soon? Will it be your first time being on a panel? I presented for the first time at the 2017 IYSI conference and it was nerve-racking. Although I was not perfect, I learned a lot and want to share that with other first-time presenters.

Here’s a few tips for a successful conference presentation:

  1. Quadruple check all slides and handouts for typos. No one is perfect, but excessive typos can look unprofessional. Reading your slides and handouts out loud and having someone who is not presenting with you look over your materials can make all the difference.
  2. Bring physical examples if you can. If not, detailed photos are helpful. Depending on the topic you are presenting on, bringing a real-life example of whatever you are talking about would be awesome.  We did this when I presented, and people liked being able to see what we were talking about and to get the chance to take their own photos.
  3. Bring your business cards. When I first presented, I was a Librarian Assistant and not yet finished with my MSLIS degree, and therefore I didn’t have any business cards. Although others were happy to give me their cards, it would have been nice to be able to hand out my own card to someone that was interested in our presentation. We did include our contact information on our presentation handout, but not having a business card could have led to a missed networking opportunity.
  4. Wear work attire, but also be comfortable. You obviously want to look professional, but you also want to be comfortable and not have to worry about any wardrobe issues. Try on and pick out your outfit in advance and it will be one less thing to worry about.
  5. Practicing the entire presentation at least once in some way before you present. I hate to admit it, but we didn’t do this the first time I presented, and our timing was off. We ended up rushing through the end and not spending enough time on the things we really wanted to discuss. This time we plan to each practice our own section so that we can ensure we cover all the topics equally, while still leaving enough time for questions at the end.

I hope you find some of these tips helpful. If you are presenting at an upcoming conference, I wish you all the luck! I will be presenting at this year’s ILA annual conference, and since I am still relatively new at presenting, I would appreciate any advice you have for me as well.