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GHC15: Speakers – Making the Most For Your Audience

GHC15 is right around the corner!  If you’re speaking, I bet you’re like me and rushing to put together your final slides.  You’ve seen the speaker guidelines and template, but the finishing touches are in your grasp.

Here are my top ten tips for speakers for doing an excellent talk at GHC15:

  1. Are you doing a panel? As an audience member, I appreciate if you have at least one slide which is critical: one with names, pictures and affiliations of the panelists. It makes it so much easier to keep track of who’s who 10 minutes into the panel.  A slide or two to introduce the topic is always appreciated as well. Pro-tip: Sit in the order you’re listed on the slide!
  2. Practice your presentation. For many of you, this may be your first presentation at a large conference, and it’s tempting to want to squeeze in as many slides as possible – then you’ll run out of time or end up speaking so quickly, nobody will understand you.  Plan about 2-4 minutes per slide, practice your timing and cut out extra slides. You can always add them as “backup” material.  As a bonus, when you practice, you’ll be less nervous.
  3. Hash tags! Folks in the audience will be sharing their thoughts about your talk while it’s happening – help them to connect by including hash tags in the footer of each slide. We’ve come up with a list, but feel free to include your own. http://gracehopper.anitab.org/ghc-community-hashtags/
  4. USE A LARGE FONTThe rooms in the convention center will likely be large. If you  have more than 2-3 bullet points per slide – it’s getting too crowded. Whatever you do, don’t shrink the font to squeeze more in – people simply won’t be able to read it. There are quite a few folks who don’t have great far sight – many of us are bookworms, etc, and are quite nearsighted – so, do us a favor and use 36 point font. 🙂
  5. Upload your slides to the GHC15 wiki. There’s a wiki? You bet! And if you’re speaking, you have a slot on the wiki.  Upload your slides there, and folks can more easily follow along – but still use large fonts. 🙂 Wiki: http://systers.org/wiki/communities/doku.php?id=wiki:ghc:ghc15
  6. Include contact info. This may be in the form of links to your blog or research site, or your twitter handle. You’d be surprised at how many women will want to connect with you after your talk.
  7. Be mindful of people with hearing or sight issues. You’ll notice stenographers and others doing sign language.  Again, speak slowly and clearly. Don’t rely on too much multi-media that may not be easily accessible. And I’ll mention the sight issues – some of the attendees may be blind, or have difficulty seeing. Use large fonts and make sure you upload your slide so they can be referenced later.
  8. Remember, not everyone in your audience is a native English speaker – try to avoid too many colloquialisms and speak clearly and slowly. [Note: I mention this often, as I’m a speed talker!]
  9. Keep it exciting. You’re clearly excited about your topic, so be sure to share your enthusiasm. Maybe add a fun picture, or start out with an interesting story on your research. 
  10. Most importantly – have fun!  This is your conference, too!

Anything else I’ve forgotten? What else would you suggest?

Valerie Fenwick, Communities Co-Chair