One of my mentors, Sarah Hart, the Associate Director of Residence Life at Old Dominion University, told me about her experiences in applying for presenting presentations at conferences. One part of that conversation I remember most is when she said, "If we got selected to present, we would go around the office saying "I’m a bridesmaid! I’m a bridesmaid!” Hopefully you, the reader, are a bridesmaid for a conference as well.
Here are seven tips to keep in mind as you prepare for the big day.
1. Proofread over your presentation and/or handouts. Proofreading allows you to see if you have accidentally duplicated any information, misspelled items, or accidentally left a slide blank. You are able to catch mistakes prior to presenting in person to a group. Additionally, taking the time to proofread over your handouts will ensure that you have all the parts you wish to have.
2. Take ownership over your presentation. Put your name and contact information all over anything you present or hand out. You have worked hard to create these resources. If you plan on offering the opportunity to email participants items, ensure to download the items and save them as a PDF first with a respective watermark. You worked hard to create these items, thus you should get the credit for them.
3. Rehearse. Rehearsing allows you to see if you are meeting the allotted time or not. You will be able to cut out pieces or include more information if needed. You should also take the time to practice presenting in front of others. If you can give this presentation to your coworkers who know you well, then you can give this presentation to a group of strangers. Your coworkers will also be able to give you feedback to make your presentation better before heading to the conference.
4. Prep areas where you can expand more. If you have intentional areas where you expect the audience to engage and talk, think of ways of how this area can be expanded. Sometimes the questions might be answered quickly, but you can store more in your back pocket to pull out if needed.
5. Gather any items you will need for your presentation. This can include technology needs from adapters to clickers. If you need other supplies or handouts printed, it is important that you have plenty on hand and give yourself enough time to order or assemble items respectively.
6. Have a plan in case technology fails. Sometimes life happens and your laptop will not work or the presentation cannot be pulled up on a flash drive. Other times, there are technology concerns that are out of your control. Having a plan of what you can say and talk about without having an electronic visual aid will allow you to carry-on and present. Much like life, not everything will go as planned. Thus, preparing for the worst case scenario can help you.
7. Prepare your presentation outfit. Most presenters will wear business formal outfits. While it is not usually mandated to wear a suit jacket, it is good practice. This attire will also set you apart from the regular attendees in the space. If you want to get something new or tailored, trying on your outfit early will allow for you to find the perfect fit.
While being a bridesmaid is exciting, you also have to do the work to prepare. You want to put your best foot forward, and these seven tips will help you do so.
Author: Anastasia Chaky (she/her/hers) is a new-professional working as a Hall Director at Morehead State University. She is responsible for overseeing approximately 900 residents and 19 student staff members. She is especially passionate about assessment, student success, and leadership development, and strives to provide opportunities to grow and learn for her students. Originally from Warrensburg, Missouri, Anastasia earned her Bachelors of Business Administration in Marketing from the University of Central Missouri. Additionally, Anastasia earned her Masters of Science in Higher Education with a Leadership and Administration focus from Old Dominion University. Before working at Morehead State University, Anastasia held positions at the University of Central Missouri, Georgia Southern University, and Old Dominion University while working in the following departments: multicultural and inclusivity, housing, admissions and recruitment, and the student success center. Anastasia likes to spend her free time reading, exploring nature and new places, trying out new restaurants, and playing with her dog, Sinatra. Anastasia can be found on LinkedIn at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/agchaky/.