Tips for conference presenting

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  • Lead by example where appropriate. If you are talking about motivation, make your presentation motivating using the same techniques you are advocating.
  • Make sure there is something for everybody. If you are presenting practical teaching tips, cement them together with theory. If you are presenting theory, illustrate it liberally with practical teaching ideas. For some people in the audience, the things you are saying will be nothing new, but this doesn't mean your presentation is useless for them. In this case, it is not what you're saying but how you're saying it which is interesting.
  • Try to keep the maximum possible number of audience members "on board". Scan faces for evidence of comprehension and repair where necessary, just as you would in a lesson.
  • Make your points in several ways, expressing it differently each time, so that if they don't get it the first time, they get another chance. This reformulation should be as discreet as possible so that those who got it clearly the first time round do not feel patronized.
  • Show rather than tell whenever this is possible. Use images, diagrams, concrete examples and demonstrations.
  • Put things in your own words. The process of digesting the material will ensure that your understanding of it is clear, and this is a pre-requisite of presenting it clearly to others.
  • Plan weeks ahead, review days ahead and rehearse hours ahead.
  • On powerpoint slides, make the text as big as possible - eg 24 points or more.
  • Reduce nervousness by starting with a "warmer" which you feel very confident with and which will evoke some response from the audience. As soon as your audience has smiled, nodded or responded in some other recognizably human way, they become friends rather than enemies.


  • Use the presentation as a shop window to display your own knowledge and erudition. Presenting is about explaining something for the benefit of the audience.
  • Fill all the available acoustic space with your voice. Don't be afraid to leave silences while you check your notes or think how to express something. The silence feels threatening at first, but actually it often provides the audience with a breathing space to gather their own thoughts.

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