NTEN is dedicated to providing a safe, welcoming, and accessible experience for everyone. We offer this guide to help presenters prepare and present their best selves.
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1.Before Your Presentation
1.1.Title and Description
- Include direct statements about what an attendee will learn or gain.
- Focus less on making the case for the issue or topic.
- Try to avoid pop culture references, memes, and turns of phrase which may not be universally understood.
1.3.Start on the Same Page
- Perhaps provide resources to review in advance of your presentation (or kick-off your presentation with a quick refresher).
- Omit or define jargon. Remember that some required terms may need definitions. (For example, an attendee might be familiar with Salesforce, but not know that it is a CRM nor what that term means.)
- Use quick polls to learn about your audience and retailer your content as possible.
- When possible, use examples from attendees to connect your content to the real world.
Refrain from being overly self-promotional or too focused on a specific vendor or product. Attendees want to develop strategy, hear case studies, and learn about options—not listen to sales pitches.
2.During Your Presentation
Microaggressions are small, subtle, often subconscious actions that marginalize people in oppressed groups.
- Don’t make assumptions about someone’s gender. If you need to reference something an attendee said, refer to them by name, use “they/them” rather than a gendered pronoun, or try something like “going back to what our friend from the food bank said…”
- Know that “guys” is not gender neutral.
- Reserve the terms “girls” or “boys” for youth.
- Be thoughtful about who you call on to speak.
- Make sure to share the microphone and podium with your co-presenters.
- Sessions have a limited timeframe, so be ready to interrupt someone who might be speaking too long. You can say something like “Let me interrupt you. I like where you’re going, but because of our short time together we can only spend a few minutes on each comment. Can you give us a 15 second wrap-up? I want to make sure we have time to hear additional thoughts.”
- Be ready to intervene if the conversation goes off topic. This is a great opportunity to use the question/topic “parking lot.” Acknowledge that the topic is important but note that you want to keep the group on track. You can say something like “I appreciate your passion/where this is going, but I want to keep us on the topic of [X]. Let’s put [Y] in the parking lot so we don’t lose it and can circle back in a future discussion.” Make sure someone from the group adds it to the parking lot while you move on.
- Watch out for folks who might be dominating the conversation. Instead of calling on the same person, nudge someone who may not be raising their hand. You can say something like “Hey [NAME], we haven’t heard from you in awhile, what experiences do you have with [X]?”
- Don’t always rely on volunteers to respond to questions. Feel free to call on individuals that look engaged but maybe need a little nudge to be “invited” to join the conversation.
- Think about your own questions and ideas around this topic. Be ready to pose them to the group if there’s a lull in conversation or to redirect the conversation if it’s getting derailed or stuck on a particular topic.
- Do you have your own good examples around this topic? Turn your “answer” into a question and pose it to the group. Give the audience a chance to respond before chiming in with your contribution.
- Creating multiple participation paths is a good way to be inclusive of different communications styles. Extroverts may enjoy talking out loud in front of the larger group while introverts may prefer to write answers down and share them anonymously.
- Think about physical requirements. Are you asking attendees to get up to write on the board, to walk around the room, to move to talk to a neighbor? How can you make activities accommodating to all participants?
- Your attendees are engaged when they ask questions. Take questions when they come, rather than later. (See the Facilitation section for tips on how to redirect when needed.)
- Help everyone hear audience questions by repeating them back before answering.
Be conscious of your room setup and adjust when possible.
- Speaking from behind a podium may be less likely to invite audience questions and discussion.
- Asking attendees to work in small groups when the seating does not allow for it may create barriers to your success.
If there is a microphone available, use it. Even if you can project your voice. Even if the room is small. Even if you ask the audience if you need to use the microphone and no one speaks up.
Help everyone hear audience questions by repeating them back before answering.
3.After Your Presentation
Ask for feedback. This will help you to continue to improve your skills and content.