Presenting at ACE 2019

Hi everyone, I just came back from Tokyo after some amazing experience. I got a chance for this travel as my project abstract was selected for the Asian Conference on Education 2019.
With the whole get ready for your trip and get the visa situation, I had to prepare for my presentation. Even though I have presented several times before, one thing that was different this time was that I was not aware of my audience (it was my first time presenting at an international conference).

If you ever have to present to an unfamiliar audience, I will share what I learned and what I missed which you can avoid. These tips are from my recent experience and the findings that I did while I was preparing and might be useful for you too.

  • Introduce yourself- Even before you begin, it is a great idea to briefly tell who you are, where you are from and what do you do. In the excitement of presenting, we often miss this opportunity to create a connection with the audience.
Introduce question slides and interact with the audience
  • Initiate a conversation- One of the best ways to begin a presentation is to start with a conversation that is simple and relatable. Initiate a story, ask a question and tell them why you care to speak about this topic and it will bring everyone in the room at the same page. Creating empathy about your topic goes a long way.
  • Set concrete expectations- Provide a layout that clearly outlines the flow of your talk. Setting expectations at the very beginning is one of the best practices when you want to introduce something new to your audience.
  • Say one thing and say it clearly- What is the most important thing your audience should remember from your presentation? Start with that. It not only helps to prioritize the flow of contents but also keeps our ideas bound clearly.
  • Keep the audience updated- Considering shorter attention span it’s important to design slides in a way that prevents your audience from feeling lost in the middle of the presentation. For this you can design recurring header/footer bars with updated title or number for each slide, introduce divider slides after major sections or add a progress bar, etc.
Use custom illustrations instead of plain text to improve engagement
  • Give relevant information- As you start presenting, its important to give information in well thought out pieces. You don’t want to distract the viewers with content overload. Use the animation feature in keynote or powerpoint, or design slides in such a way that keeps the viewers engaged for the upcoming content rather than dump of the information in one go.
Added a link for the website
  • Carry print outs or cards- If you too are a designer then it would be easier for you to make collaterals inspired by the work that you are presenting. A little card to take away would help in recalling your work and can help in making new connections.
  • Record yourself speaking- I missed this bit, but I am not going to miss on this one again. Even if you are travelling alone carry a small tripod and set your mobile and record yourself presenting. This would help you for future opportunities and you can groom yourself better. Also, it is a good memory to have.
  • Stay true to yourself- Never underestimate the power of your audience, they are intelligent and they would relate. I presented to researchers and academics with Ph.D. in their respective subjects during this conference. While I am a young designer who wanted to share my idea. It took me a while, but I stuck to being a designer and a storyteller. I gave an illustrated presentation, with multiple visuals and images of my book. I was passionate about my idea and my work and it showed. I did not try to copy the formats they were using and it helped me stay confident about my process.

Always remember that your energy is contagious, and if you have fun your audience will too!

Sharing links which I found useful-

https://hbr.org/2013/06/how-to-give-a-killer-presentation