Publication Date

December 11, 2012

Presenting a paper at the annual meeting in New Orleans? If you are nervous, don’t fret. As Linda Kerber noted in “Conference Rules: Everything You Need to Know about Presenting a Scholarly Paper in Public,” nervousness means you are taking the opportunity seriously. In order to alleviate any creeping anxiety, consider the following tips for presenting a paper (or poster) at the annual meeting:

  • Arrive 10 minutes before the panel begins, especially if there are panel members whom you don’t know.
  • Don’t read your paper. There is nothing more deadly than listening to speakers rush through presentations without ever looking up or deviating from their written remarks. Prepare an outline, write out your most important points, and practice your presentation in advance.
  • If you get nervous when presenting, stop, take a deep breath, and take a sip of water to center yourself. The pause won’t seem as long to the audience as it does to you.
  • Adhere to the time limits. Although the panel chair makes the ultimate call, participants generally are given 20 minutes on a three-person panel. 
  • If there is a problem with the meeting room—it is too hot, too cold, the sun is in your eyes, or the sound is bleeding in from another session—flag down an LAC worker in an AHA t-shirt. They can contact the hotel to try to fix it.
  • Try to engage substantively with other members of your panel during the question and discussion part of the session.
  • Posters: Remember that the goal of the poster is to facilitate conversation between the presenter and the audience (which might often be just one or two people). Use the guidelines on our website, found here.

Tips for Using Technology in a Presentation:

  • Be prepared for technology to have glitches.
  • If you ordered AV equipment for your session, get to the room half an hour early to check that your equipment is there and is working.
  • If you are using PowerPoint, save all of the files for your session onto one laptop or thumb drive.
  • Practice switching between presentation and PowerPoint slides before the session starts.
  • If there is a problem with the technology in your room, flag down an LAC worker in an AHA t-shirt or use the house phone to call the AV department.
  • If you are a Mac user, bring your own adapter for the projector.

For more information about the guidelines for presenting a paper at the annual meeting, please visit our Information for Speakers page. 

This post first appeared on AHA Today.

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