Education is constantly cited as the #1 reason people attend AALL's Annual Meeting and Conference. As a program presenter – whether you’re a coordinator, moderator, or speaker – you play an enormous role in the delivery of that educational content, and how attendees learn.
We hope the following information about the layout of our program rooms will make it easier for you to engage and interact with your attendees.
Half of our program rooms at the Annual Meeting and Conference are set "theatre style" (rows of chairs) with a riser featuring a podium and a panel table and chairs. The other half of the program rooms will be set in a roundtable format (also with a riser featuring a podium and a panel table and chairs).
Consider the following tips as you prepare for your program’s presentation – no matter what kind of room you're in.
- Be more than a talking head!
While you may be accustomed to standing behind a podium to speak, remember that this means most of you is hidden from the audience. Consider moving out from behind it - and moving among your audience. And please, please do not deliver your presentation sitting behind a table. (With wireless microphones and remote slide advancers, there's no need to be tethered to one spot.) This freedom can help you find the natural hand gestures, momentum, and audience connection to make a big impact. Moving closer to your audience 1) makes your connection to them more personal, and 2) makes it easier for them to ask a question that could be the next "Ah-ha!" moment of your presentation.
- Asking questions is a two-way street.
It's important to give your audience the chance to ask questions, but you can really increase their level of engagement when you ask them questions throughout the presentation, too. Asking for "a show of hands" is fine, but so many new possibilities emerge if you ask them for more. (With a handheld microphone, you can give attendees the chance to be heard.) Hint: You can also ask them to connect with the person next to them. "Ask your neighbor how they do XYZ in their library." A few simple questions can really open your presentation up – and possibly start some conversations that go on long after the program is over.
We won't speculate on adult attention spans these days, but we do know that people learn best when content is delivered in more digestible "chunks." Instead of plowing through an hour’s worth of bullet points, divide the key points of your presentation into segments that can be explained in 5-10 minutes. After each segment, ask a question of the audience, or have them discuss what you've just covered with the people sitting with them. Plus, it will give you the opportunity to gauge their comprehension. You'll be amazed by what you can teach attendees when you're not even talking!
When you prepare your presentation, identify the (3-5) most important items you want your audience take away from it. When it's time to begin, share this "blueprint" with them and make it clear to them what you'll be delivering. Attendees have invested in your program based on the program's published description. Be aware of your target audience, and make sure you are contributing to the stated learning outcomes. Check in with your audience throughout your presentation by asking questions and help them digest your content by summarizing each segment. As you wrap up your presentation, don't forget their takeaway. Tie your conclusion back to the blueprint you laid out when you began. A full circle approach will solidify your audience's comprehension, and send them off satisfied.
These are some relatively simple adjustments that can make a huge difference your attendees' learning experience - we encourage you to give them a try.