Keep Calm and Carry On: Being Prepared for a Presentation

Keep Calm and Carry On


Personal Experience for my first presentation at an education conference

This is just a short reflective piece about my rencent expereiences and the importance of being prepared…

I’ve always enjoyed attending education conferences.  However, after attending many of the presentations, classes, workshops, etc. I often walk away telling my wife (also an educator) that much of what I just sat through… well… I already knew. My common statement is “I could have taught that”. I may be wrong, but I think this might be a common problem with technology educators.  Many of the topics and courses are either well below our current skill set, or its old news to someone whose job it is to thrive on the cutting edge of technology integration.

This year, I finally decided to jump into the ring and offer my own presentation. The title was “Fostering Moral Development within Social Media”.  I was contacted by the chair of the doctoral studies department at my university and asked to co-present on this topic. I, along with the Chair and a fellow doctoral candidate pulled from recent, relevant, literature (2010-2011 studies) to help modern educators at the ACSI conference attempt to take on this challenging topic. If you missed this presentation we will be offering a slightly modified version for the California Education Research Association’s conference this week in Anaheim. However, what I want to write about most is the experience of presenting.

First, let me say that I wasn’t nervous. I’m not saying that to be pretentious, rather, I was excited. I knew the research and I know the topic.  I have performed before audiences and I treated this no differently than I would an actor preparing for a stage performance. As I arrived at the conference I knew that a large part of our presentation hinged upon our ability to have Internet access and securing this access became the paramount goal upon my arrival.

As I walked through the fourth floor lobby toward my room I encountered a hotel employee in charge of conference information.  I inquired about the availability of Internet access through a hardline or WiFi and was informed that they had it, however it was very expensive… her exact words “It’s like $700 a day”.  Hmmm…. “I call shenanigans” I thought to myself and simply thanked her and went on my way. Sitting down and opening my MacBook Pro I was able to find the hotel’s WiFi access which clearly stated it was available for $15 a day. I attempted to purchase this access but the authentication system did not recognize “Long Beach” as a valid city.  A quick call to the national help-line for the hotel confirmed there was a problem and, after locating my MAC address on the network, the tech assistant issued my Internet access at no cost for the trouble experienced. Talk about professionalism. I was very pleased with this event.  Yet, my adventures in preparedness were not yet over.

We were given 10 minutes to set up equipment (we had to bring our own projector and speakers). As I quickly went to work hooking up the necessary hardware I found that the electrical connection in the hotel for the equipment had zero electricity. Changing their surge protector did no good. Luckily, on the way out the door I had grabbed my 25’ extension cord.  I found an outlet and quickly hooked up the connector. Bingo! Electricity. With only one minute till presentation time a hotel employee entered and saw my work. I informed him of the problem and he quickly thanked me for fixing it myself and said someone would be in after our presentation to correct the error. Wow. Had I relied on the staff the presentation would not have happened on time (or possibly at all).

The presentation went very well. In total I counted roughly 30 educators present. We held an interactive presentation with questions and answers throughout the presentation and we had zero people walk out (I call that a success in any presentation).

It seems that the lesson I learned as a child in Boy Scouts paid off. “Be Prepared”.  I always strive to be prepared and for once, I was thankful that I could be prepared for all the monkey wrenches that were thrown my way.  It was a valuable lesson I plan on taking with me to any future conferences. I must always be prepared…

What about you?

Have you ever presented at a conference and found that there were major technical difficulties? Were you prepared?  How did you cope with the issues? I’d love to hear your thoughts. I may post a new blog article soon about several keys to being prepared for a conference.  I wish all of you great success in your presentations. Feel free to share your experiences, war stories, etc. by hitting the comment button below.