Whether this year’s convention presentation will be your first or your hundredth, here are a few tips to make it your best yet:
- Don’t read your paper. Looking down and reading a paper that was written to be read rather than heard is a sure way to make your audience disengage.
- Plan for accessibility. Give your audience the tools they need in order to engage with your work. Post your presentation on MLA Commons ahead of time, bring large-print copies of your presentation and visual materials, and make sure projected images will be easily legible from the back of the room. Briefly describe the materials for any attendees who are visually impaired (accessibility guidelines are available here).
- Use interesting visuals. Avoid filling the screen with bullet points that mirror what you’re saying.
- Engage with your fellow presenters. Find ways to connect your presentation with those of your fellow panelists.
- Respect the time limit. Exceeding the time allotted for your presentation leaves less time for questions and discussion, and may even cut into your fellow panelists’ presentation time. Practice in advance to ensure that your prepared materials leave you with a minute or so to spare. That way, you have a cushion to deal with any technical issues or to make spontaneous comments.