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As a presenter, you are the backbone of the conference. Presenters need to prepare in advance, deliver content articulately and concisely, and follow-up to build knowledge networks. The guidelines below are designed for paper sessions with multiple presenters but are flexible for use in other session types and can be adapted for other conference preparations. If you are presenting a poster, see the poster guidelines, and if you are presenting a roundtable, review the roundtable guidelines.

Three months ahead (July, for AEA Conference)

  • Choose 1-3 key content points to be conveyed and then develop notes regarding what you wish to share relating to each key point.
  • Gather photos or images for use in slideshow.
  • Check in with copresenters on key content points and preparation timeline.
  • Expect to hear from your session chair by email.
    • Ask about length of time for your presentation, discussion time to be reserved for audience questions and a discussant, and the sequence of those events during your session. Papers have about 15 minutes. If you are part of a panel, demonstration, think tank, etc., determine with your chair and copresenters how much time is to be devoted to what content.
    • Ask about your colleagues’ presentations and coordinate content to limit overlap and respond to one another’s work.

Two months ahead (August, for AEA Conference)

  • Based on your key content points, develop visual aids, like slides. Each room is equipped with a traditional transparency projector for plastic transparencies, an LCD projector, a computer and a screen. Consider the time available and the multiple learning styles of attendees (auditory, visual, etc.) to create a valuable presentation.
    • Refer to the Potent Presentations Design Checklist as you develop your slides.
    • Embed the font into your file so that it will appear the same when it is emailed to your chair or when you plug your flash drive into the room’s laptop.
    • Avoid acronyms, jargon, and abbreviations in your visual aids and handouts. Past evaluations have clearly indicated this frustration, in particular for new and international attendees, make a presentation difficult to comprehend.
    • Prepare one slide that you can put up at the beginning and end of the presentation with your presentation title, name, and contact information. In case you do not have enough handouts, encourage attendees to write down this information for follow-up.
Review the Potent Presentations Design Checklist to make certain your slides will deliver with impact and clarity.

One month ahead (September, for AEA Conference)

  • Practice! At least once per week, in varied locations, and at least twice in front of other people. Good presenters spend about 4 times the length of their talk just rehearsing that talk.
    • Ensure that your presentation highlights key points, your delivery is clear, and you can finish within the time allocated.
    • Do not read from a paper or even from your notes. Practice until you can give the presentation with only a glance or two at notecards to ensure you are on track.
  • Meet with copresenters in person or online to practice together.
  • Tweak content.
  • If needed, develop a one-page handout that includes key material used during your talk (interactive rating sheets or a complex diagram, as examples). Include your name and contact information. Limit handouts to about 1 page and upload extended or related materials to AEA’s eLibrary.
  • Proofread and spell-check. Spell-check and proofread. Please.
  • Send final presentation and other material (notes, slides, resources, papers) to session chair and all copresenters to encourage exchange and discussion.
Are you active with Facebook or Twitter? Create buzz about your upcoming presentation. Post comments about your speech and where it’s at so your network can get excited with you! It might even attact the eye of the next client.

Month of presentation (October, for AEA Conference)

  • Practice! At least once per week, in varied locations, and at least twice in front of other people.
  • Print final copies of presentation notes.
  • Upload presentation materials to AEA eLibrary.
  • Print 50-100 copies of your handout, if you have one.

At the session (October, for AEA Conference)

  • Arrive at the session early and connect with the other presenters and session chair so that the session may start on time.
  • Identify who will be holding the timing cards so that you may watch them during your presentation. Timing cards in each room identify “3 minutes,”
  • “1 minute,” and “Stop” to prompt presenters.
  • At the beginning of your talk, let the audience know whether you have physical handouts to distribute and/or whether your slides or handouts will be posted in AEA’s eLibrary.
  • Deliver your presentation. Speak clearly, maintain eye contact with the audience, and relax. Stick to the agreed upon time for your portion to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to present and interact with the audience. Shine.
  • Respond to questions. Be aware of the limited time and offer concise responses, noting when appropriate that you may be able to follow-up post-conference to continue the conversation.
  • Depart on time. Leave the room and continue discussion in the foyer so the next session can set up.

After the session (November, for AEA Conference)

  • Tweak your content based on the feedback you heard. Doing this now, while the session is fresh in your mind, will reduce your burden when you present this information again.
  • Contact or reply to those who heard, or heard of, your presentation. If you were presenting a paper, you should be prepared to email the completed paper. You may want to ask about their work to see how it might mesh with your own in ways that could be advantageous to you both.