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Top Tips for Presenting at ELT Conferences

March 20, 2017

“The success of your presentation will be judged not by the knowledge you send but by what the listener receives.”

—Lilly Walters

Chances are you might be attending or presenting at a conference this year. Conferences are a great way to make connections and share your experience with other educators.

ESL Library team members often present at and attend TESOL and other ELT conferences. Below are some tips we hope will help you deliver an incredible presentation. Feel free to connect with us at a conference. We would love to see you present!

Focus on a Few Points

Top presenters advise that an audience will remember up to three ideas. Choose the main takeaways of your presentation and remind your audience of these points at the end of the presentation. For those who want to know more, provide a handout or a link to your presentation resources.

Share Your Reflections

Many presenters make the mistake of sharing too much research or too many quotes or ideas from others. Your audience is interested in your thoughts, reflections, and experiences on the topic. Briefly mention the pedagogy and research, and for those who are interested, offer to provide a list of references or an emailed copy of your research. Keep in mind that the audience came to listen to you; therefore, the majority of the presentation needs to be about your insights, struggles, and solutions.

Design a Compelling Presentation

Like our language learners, we learn best with visuals and multimedia. Make sure your presentation is designed well and includes visuals, multimedia, video, or audio. Limit the amount of text you have on your slides. For more tips on designing a compelling presentation, check out this post: 20+ Tips and Resources to Help Learners with Their Presentation Skills.

Include a Warmer or Icebreaker

Chances are your audience members have been sitting through several other presentations and their brains are already filled with information. Wake them up with a quick icebreaker, warmer, or filler. Even if you are not giving a workshop, movement stimulates the brain. We share some icebreakers in this post: A Beautiful Beginning: 10+ Tips & Resources for Creating a Safe Classroom Environment.

Allow Audience Input Toward the End

Too many times I have seen a member of the audience hijack a presentation when allowed to share. Some audience members speak for too long or begin debates that can last for most of the presentation. You spent a lot of time preparing your presentation, so to maximize this time, invite your audience to share and ask their questions at the end of your presentation only.

Include a Backchannel

You can have your audience share throughout the presentation with a backchannel. If your audience is on Twitter, provide them with a hashtag to include their questions and thoughts. Other options are having the audience share online with these suggested web tools: Padlet, Lino, or Today’s Meet.

Have a Plan B, C, D…

The technology may fail you. Do not waste too much time apologizing or trying to fix the technology. Instead, continue with the learning and have a backup plan. If a video or audio clip doesn’t play, move on. Prepare a presentation that does not require an Internet connection along with the one that does. One time, when my projector didn’t work and I couldn’t show my slides, I had the audience participate in activities with their mobile devices. (Good thing the topic was about language learning with mobile devices!)

Provide a Copy of Your Presentation

Make sure to let your audience know how they can get a copy of your presentation slides and resources. There are several web tools and websites where you can publish your presentation online. You can create a Google DocWiki, or Weebly with your resources. If you don’t feel comfortable publishing your work online, offer to email your audience a copy.

Invite the Audience to Connect

If your audience loved your presentation, they might want to invite you to present at their schools or at another conference. Make sure to let people know how they can connect with you through email or on social media. You can provide a QR code with your contact information. People still exchange business cards at conferences, so have some on hand just in case.

Connect on Social Media

You can connect with your audience before and after your presentation through Twitter or Facebook. Most conferences have a hashtag where you can discover other conference attendees, presenters, and bloggers. The conference hashtag is a great place to invite people to attend your presentation and to post your presentation resources for those who could not attend.

Shelly’s Ultimate Hashtag Guide for ELT

Sometimes I schedule tweets with images and ideas on my Twitter account to coincide with my presentation. Invite your audience to tweet during your presentation using the conference hashtag. Invite them to post pictures or their feedback. Often this will attract more people to your presentation or future presentations.

What tips do you have for those presenting?

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Comments (2)

Edwin Marin(Guest)

Excellent material, very useful in our classes.

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Christine (Guest)

These are really great too! I'll be sure to save this to refer back to the next time I present. Thank you!

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