SA Year 2: So You Want to Present at a Conference?

by Margaret Sutton

One of my goals this semester was to present an educational session at a Regional or National conference. Several weeks ago, I was able to achieve that goal by presenting an educational session with my supervisor at the National Association of Campus Activities Region III Conference in Chattanooga, TN. Is presenting at a conference one of your #SAYear2 goals? Here are my "5 Steps to a Conference Presentation:"
  1. Decide what you want to talk about. Put yourself in the shoes of your audience - if you were attending a conference, what is something that you would want to know? Think about conferences and educational sessions you've attended in the past. Consider the most helpful session you attended and the least helpful session. 
  2. Have a plan. Most Educational Session Proposals include an outline of what your presentation would look like. This doesn't have to be a 100% finished product - it just gives the selection committee an idea of what your presentation would look like. It's also a bonus if you can tie in the conference's theme somehow into the presentation. 
  3. Be engaging. Conference attendees are sitting through educational sessions for hours. Figure out creative ways that you can get people attending your session up and moving or interacting with one another. 
  4. Don't advertise for your institution. Your institution has the coolest late night program in the universe? That's awesome. However, people chose to attend your educational session because they thought you would teach them how they can make their programs better. The most frustrating thing is to attend a session where one thinks they're going to learn something, and then it turns out to be a public service announcement about how wonderful the presenter's institution is for that individual. 
  5. Relax and have fun! At the end of the day, presenting at a conference is a huge accomplishment. Little things may go wrong, like the projector not working or forgetting your words, but those things don't change the fact that you were chosen to share your knowledge with the community. 

Student Affairs - the First Years

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