Presenting at the Convention

The following guidelines can greatly improve your performance and enhance your presentation of your creative work, paper, or roundtable.

  1. We are often asked about “revising accepted papers.” Two things to keep in mind: (1) you absolutely may not make your paper longer, or add extra poems or flash fiction pieces to your collections; (2) you may lightly edit. Many readers want to make slight edits as they practice reading aloud. That is acceptable. Convention paper awards are judged on the work submitted and accepted.
  2. Practice reading your accepted work in advance of your presentation. Make sure that you can read the work in under 15 minutes; consider making pronunciation notes for difficult names or foreign words.
  3. Check out the location and time in advance. Know where your session is to be held, and when, in order not to feel rushed or uncertain
  4. Arrive for your session at least five minutes prior to the start time, introduce yourself to the session chair and moderator, and confirm the pronunciation of your name. Consider creating a small index card with the pronunciation of your name and paper title, and anything else you want the session chair to say such as “From Alpha University.”
  5. Stand at the podium to read your paper or creative work. If the room has no podium, consider standing anyway—your voice projects more when you stand, and the audience will be able to see you.
  6. Observe time limits and keep under 15-minute time limit, not only as a courtesy to your fellow presenters, but also to allow time for questions at the end of the session. Your moderator will gently warn you if your paper gets to 14.5 minutes.
  7. Enunciate, and speak audibly and slowly enough so listeners can follow along. With the exception of minor revisions to improve grammar or readability, do not improvise or deviate from the work that was accepted for convention.
  8. Practice good speech-giving strategies. Be aware of your body language and of the eye contact you keep with your audience. Since the attention of your listeners should be on your words, avoid anything that draws their attention away from your words.
  9. Listen to fellow panelists and jot down thoughtful comments or questions to ask them.
  10. Save your improvisational skill for the question period, when you will need it. Then answer questions from the audience clearly and concisely.
  11. Remember—you are among friends. At a conference, where you are sharing your ideas with strangers, you may feel vulnerable to their criticism. But remember that your peers feel the same way.
  12. Dress professionally. Presenters generally choose to present in business or “business casual” attire. While your comfort is important, your clothing should signify that you are to be taken seriously.