Conference Presentation: preparing to share

by Zhenya

There are often times when teachers would like to share their ideas with others, and they decide to present on a conference or a weekend workshop. I have done it many times myself. If you are like me, then maybe you also found yourself in a situation when the application form is filled out, the title and even abstract of the coming presentation is approved by the conference organizers, and all what is left is simply plan and then deliver that session. Well, this was often a ‘trap’ I got myself into, when I have to make sure my actual presentation meets the objectives and answers the questions (or perhaps raises new questions) on the topic.

What I found helpful at our school was to have a pre-conference meeting with those teachers who are presenting, and those who are not, and have a so-called ‘talk through’ in pairs or groups where presenters can share their ideas and clarify what they are less confident about.

A possible list of questions looks like this, but might have more or fewer questions, depending on a situation:

  1. What is the topic of your presentation? Does the topic and content meet the general theme of the conference?*
  2. How do you imagine the outcome of your session? How much / little might the participants know about the topic?  What would you like your audience to achieve in the end?
  3. How confident are you about the timing of your session? Is it possible to make the session longer? Shorter? How?
  4. Is there any time for the participants to take notes?
  5. How much do you (presenter) know about the topic?
  6. What kind of session format(s) have you chosen for your session?** Can it be different? Why (not)?
  7. Will you need to prepare the room for your session? Can this be flexible? Can anyone help you?
  8. How will you start your session?
  9. Will everybody be involved in the tasks during your session? Is it going to be Participant-Centered?
  10. How can you adapt to a larger number of people in the room? And to fewer participants?
  11. Do you have any feedback form? What questions will you ask?
  12. Is there anything you are unsure about the session?

* Sometimes conferences have a general theme to orient both presenters and audience. My previous post included some thoughts on presentation materials initially created for the International Workshop on Teaching Methods and Approaches, and you can see the theme on the image below.

WorkshopWeekendTheme

**I also shared my little collection of possible presentations types in this blog post (some of which I tried out personally, and some of them are in my ‘action points’ list waiting for a chance to be used 🙂 )

I usually give teachers a bit of time to look at these questions and then presenters choose 2-3 most relevant and discuss them in pairs or groups; the listeners need to be supportive and patient allowing the presenters to share the ideas and add suggestions if asked. If time allows, presenters can rotate and talk to new ‘audience’. At this point I ask the listeners to be more critical and make sure that more questions are answered.

At the end of the session there would be some time to answer any extra questions, or help the presenters with any last moment tips from the group. At the very end of the session I ask those who are not presenting now to think of a possible topic for another occasion, and share it with the group. It is often something teachers are interested in and either researching it actively and experimenting in class, or thinking and reading about it, or both, and just need a bit of encouragement to actually go and share. The first step can always be made at a weekly school meeting..

Thank you for reading 🙂