Make it easy to remember the water: 10 tips for presenters

I’ve written two articles for workshop coordinators and organizers, and I thought it only fair to have tips for presenters. The below is a collection of tips for presenters from experienced workshop and conference planners.

Not only is coordinating a workshop, event or conference a lot of work—it’s also hard work, especially when working with a variety of personalities, preferences and requirements. Below are 10 tips for presenters to make event organizers’ lives just a bit easier.

1. Be prepared. This goes without saying, but always be prepared in advance. This means coming to the workshop knowledgeable on your subject, and also asking for what you need upfront. Want your workshop seating to be arranged in a circle? Need LCD equipment or Internet access? Want a flipchart? Ask in advance, and don’t be unhappy if you ask for something at the last minute and are not provided with it. With all things, of course, expect the unexpected—and have a back-up plan in place.

2. Have someone proofread your work. Even if you’re an experienced presenter who has done a workshop many times, be sure to have someone—such as T.S. Writing Services—review your PowerPoint for clarity, brevity and typos. There is nothing more embarrassing than having audience members look away in boredom or silently correct your PowerPoint slides because it has a typo somewhere or isn’t clear. Besides, numerous mistakes, even if they’re minor typos, can undermine a presenter’s credibility.

3. Dress appropriately. Wear appropriate clothes; business casual is a good balance between participants who are dressed up and those who aren’t. Have back-up clothing such as a dark-colored (depending on your skin tone) pull-over or cardigan in case you have people in the audience who can’t see you clearly. Remember to dress for extreme room temperatures and conditions. Keep in mind that you might get warm from moving around, but the participants might be cold because they are sitting still. Organizers and planners, too, should dress appropriately, even if everyone else is in jeans.

4. Ensure that you submit the necessary information according to guidelines. Oftentimes organizers will ask for your biography and other details for the event program book, website and so forth. Please adhere to their word limit, and abide by their deadlines. They have deadlines in place for a reason—so that things get done in a timely manner. Do not wait until the last minute. This will delay other planning and implementation tasks. Mark on your calendar when the handouts, abstract, workshop information, and so forth, are due. Keep in mind that organizers often are dealing with multiple presenters, so submit all your information at once, and with easy-to-identify file names (such as suggsbio.pdf, suggsabstract.docx, etc.). The last thing you want to do is have the organizer chase you for your information.

5. Have clearly stated expectations. Whether you’re doing a workshop or presentation, make sure you have a contract in place, even if you’re not getting paid. Usually, the organizer should have this paperwork available—but if not, have your own contract available. This contract should include:

  • Workshop title
  • Workshop date, time and location
  • Payment information (including lodging, travel, per diem/meals, handouts, etc.)
  • Cancellation policy and terms
  • Billing information (such as who to send the invoice to)
  • Signatures of both parties

6. Respect budgetary constraints. If you are being paid for your travel, don’t get the most costly and best seats available. Rather, plan ahead and look for a reasonable fare that fits both parties’ needs. Be sure to keep all receipts in case the organizer needs it to reimburse, and send your invoice promptly after the event.

7. Communicate well. Be responsive. Respond to the organizer’s e-mails as soon as you can, and if you’re unable to provide the needed information, simply respond with, “I got your e-mail and will get back to you by Friday.” A reasonable turnaround time is three business days. About a week before, and again on the day of your event, check in with the organizer to make sure everything is going according to plan, and confirm that any requests you made in advance will be met. Provide the organizer with your immediate contact information such as your text number, and request the organizer’s information as well.

8. Know who you’re presenting to. Check the organization’s website, request information on the audience, and learn about the event, such as why it is being held and its theme. Learn who you’ll be talking to, and tailor your presentation or workshop to them. If applicable, find out what the organization’s history and issues are.

9. Check in as time nears. Make sure you have transportation to and from the airport. If the organizer is unavailable to pick you up, ask for other options. If you need to take a taxi or call the hotel for a shuttle, make arrangements in advance since many airports do not have accessible phones for hotel shuttles. The organizer should have transportation in place, but again, expect the unexpected.

10. Expect the unexpected. Remember that many events take months of planning behind the scenes, and organizers can’t anticipate everything. When organizers are faced with circumstances beyond their control, working together can help make the best of the situation. For example, if the Internet connection isn’t working, or if your laptop won’t connect to the LCD projector—have a PDF version of the files as a back-up.

Special thanks go to Socorro Moore, John Pirone, Rosa Ramirez and others who provided input for this article.

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  1. Hello,
    My friend refer to me your blog website, it is very good and interesting!
    I am presenters coordinator for the next 2014 Deaf Canada Women Conference in
    Montreal (Quebec, Canada) next summer. With your tips, I think I’ll be a good coordinator! thank you! 🙂
    Chantal from Montreal

  2. Chantal, I’m glad it was helpful. 🙂 Best wishes for a successful event!

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