Here in Colorado, excitement about this week’s ATA conference is reaching a fever pitch and I’m spending today putting the finishing touches on my preconference seminar, “Beyond the Basics of Freelancing.” I’ve read a number of good posts about how to get the most out of a translation conference, so here are a few tips on how to deliver an effective presentation! In my experience, presenting at an ATA conference or another translation industry conference is a great way to increase your name recognition, share your knowledge and force yourself to learn about some new topics; give it a try!
- Pick a topic with which you feel very comfortable. At a conference with 1,500 attendees, there will be experts in the audience, so you should be one too!
- Prepare, prepare, prepare. There are gifted public speakers and adequate public speakers, but it’s excruciating to watch a speaker who’s fumbling through papers, trying to ad-lib without much success or doesn’t really know which slide is coming next. The first few times I presented at an ATA conference I wrote out a script with nearly every word I was going to say, and I still do this when I present in French.
- Don’t be afraid to run the show; after all, you’re the presenter! I used to be more flexible about answering questions during the presentation, but I found that it was easy to become bogged down in the process. Now I ask people to hold their questions unless they are purely factual, i.e. “what does CAT stand for.”
- Repeat the questions. This is something that’s hard to remember to do because it’s not instinctive. Yet it’s very frustrating to be sitting in the back of a large conference room while the speaker carries on an energetic dialogue with someone you can’t hear.
- Engrave the presentation’s ending time on your wrist. OK, it’s a small exaggeration, but when you’re nervous it’s very hard to remember how much time you have left. If I’m giving a long seminar, I write BREAK on the notes for the slide before the break, and I do actually write the end time on my hand!
- Give your audience a way to contact you. I leave a large stack of my inexpensive business cards out on a table at the front of the room. I try not to promise to answer individual questions, but I do answer some questions on my blog.
Also, I will say that as a speaker, it’s incredibly gratifying to get e-mails from people who enjoyed a presentation. After the ATA conference, think about writing two or three quick e-mails to the presenters whose presentations you really enjoyed. See you in Denver!