Helpful Tips for First-Time Conference Presenters:
Before the conference….
Practice, practice, practice. Do a mock presentation in front of peers, your faculty mentors, or anyone who will listen! Not only will this give you practice presenting the material, but you may also receive valuable feedback from an audience that may not be immediately familiar with your work (similar to what you might encounter at a conference).
Get tips on conference etiquette from individuals (peers, faculty mentors, etc.) who have attended the same or similar conference previously.
Save several copies of your presentation in different formats (email it to yourself, bring a flash drive, put it on a cloud service, etc.) so that you have back-ups should something get lost, deleted, or corrupted. More than likely, you will be able to find a copy/printing store at your conference destination in the event that you forgot to pack your poster and need to print one at your conference destination.
At the conference…
Check the room, equipment, etc. before hand to become familiar with your surroundings and trouble-shoot any technical issues before your presentation.
Try not to rush through your presentation, but stay within the time limit (if one applies). Your practice and mock presentations before the conference will give you insight about the length and pace of your presentation.
Be clear and concise. In many situations, members in your audience have heard, or will hear, several talks on the same day.
Make eye contact with the audience. Try not to rely heavily on your slides, poster, etc. Not only will eye contact with the audience make the presentation more engaging, but it will also show that you know your stuff!
Speak enthusiastically about your research
Dress appropriately. If you are unsure about conference attire, ask your faculty mentor or peers who have presented at similar conferences. Business casual or similar professional attire is generally acceptable at conferences.
Handling questions during and/or after your presentation:
If in front of a larger audience, repeat the question so that everyone hears what was asked.
Always be respectful –avoid getting defensive.
Use visual aids from your poster or slide presentation to help illustrate your answer
If you don’t know the answer, it’s okay to say so. Thank the audience member for their question and perhaps ask them if they have some ideas that you might think about for your research.
Remember to thank your audience for attending your presentation. People who have visited your poster could potentially be employers or colleagues in the future.