Delivering a Better Learning Experience

A program is only as good as its delivery

Education is constantly cited as the #1 reason people attend the AALL Annual Meeting & 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.

Know Your Program Room Layout

Familiarity with the layout of your program room can help you plan for audience interaction and engagement. Audience seating in all program rooms will be configured in one of three formats:

  • Theater style (rows of chairs) – Rooms 203-205, 218-219, & R02-R03
  • Banquet style (roundtable seating) – Rooms 215-216, 225-227, & 228-230
  • Classroom style (desktop tables) – Rooms 206-207, 208-210, 211-213, & 220-222

All program rooms will feature a platform riser with a podium and four chairs (set in a “talk show” style semicircle), plus a low coffee table (for speakers’ notes, etc.). Please note: A panelists’ head table is no longer part of the standard room setup. Program room assignments are made based on the setups indicated in the original program proposals. View sample room diagrams.

Wireless lavaliere microphones will be available for presenters, and removable handheld microphones on stands will be available for audience use.

An Engaged Audience + Your Expertise = Wow

Consider the following tips as you prepare for your program’s presentation—no matter what kind of room you’re in. Below are some relatively simple adjustments that can make a huge difference in your attendees’ learning experience—we encourage you to give them a try.

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 seated 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.

Give them “chunks”

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!

Connect the dots

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.