Conference Presenters’ Guidelines


The Innovative Users Group (IUG) is pleased to provide a forum for its members to present interesting ideas. This Guide for Presenters is created to provide practical assistance, not only to first-time presenters, but also to experienced speakers, especially if they have never attended an IUG meeting.


This Guide does not address questions of content, but concentrates on protocol (or etiquette, if you prefer) and mechanics. It is divided into two sections: Preparation and Delivery. Please address any comments or additions to this document to the IUG Program Chair.


Program Coordinator There is usually one Program Coordinator for each program at the conference. The Program Coordinator is responsible for communication between the presenters and the IUG’s Program Committee. Presenter. Each program may have one or more Presenters; in the case where there is only one. Presenter, that person is also the Program Coordinator.

Selecting a Topic

Topics at the IUG Conference tend to be practical and instructional in nature. How you use the system, teach others how to use the system, work around the system’s rough edges, or extend the capabilities of the system are all areas that lend themselves to presentations. Ideas can come from previous conference presentations, discussions on the IUG discussion list, or your own experiences. The IUG encourages programs to be inclusive of all of the library types in which Innovative installs systems. While not true of all topics, most presentations have applications in more than one library type. There are a number of ways to find people to help you if you don’t want to tackle a topic all by yourself or you want to lead a session with panelists. One way is to approach other people you have seen or heard speak on the topic, or those who post messages on your topic to the IUG discussion list. (You can use the search engine on the INNOPAC list archives to find those who have posted on similar topics.) You can also post a message to the IUG discussion list about your interest in a topic and desire to find co-presenters or panelists.  

Your Presentation

Concentrate on the main points you want to make. We recommend that you consider the following important points when putting your presentation together.

  • What is the problem I am solving? Are there any previous solutions? If so, briefly summarize them.
  • How did I solve the problem? How good is the solution?
  • What is the relationship of this work to other works in the field?
  • What are the unanswered questions or problems which still remain to be solved in this area? What are your recommendations for future work?
  • Keep a logical thread running through your presentation which relates each part to the theme and helps the audience to comprehend the whole.

Please be sensitive to the diversity of types of libraries in the audience (public, school, special, law, medical as well as academic). When there are differences, more than one library type’s point of view should be presented. You can do this by including co-presenters or panelists from other library types, or include examples of your topic from other libraries. Start your presentation by outlining the structure of the talk, i.e. the titles of your main sections. Then summarize the main points of your talk at the end. The old guideline for preachers and politicians is still true for Conference and technical presentations:

  1. Tell the audience what you are going to tell them
  2. Tell them
  3. Tell them what you’ve told them
  4. Outlines are very useful as a slide in your presentation. Also consider including information in the slide title to let people know where you are in the talk. It will be helpful after the fact as people start reviewing the materials.

Remember: A short, effective presentation concentrating on the main points of
your work makes a more lasting impact on the audience than a longer, diffuse

Program Materials

Having written program materials is almost always a good idea, especially if you wish to draw attention to textual material, bibliography or visual details during your presentation. Program materials will be made available in advance of the conference, which will help people make decisions about which sessions to attend. As in past years, program materials will not be available in printed form during the conference, either in a conference notebook or distributed in individual sessions. However, they will be added to the IUG conference app prior to the conference and linked to your program so that those interested can print them off and bring the program materials with them, as well as refer to them online after the conference is over. If you want to have something to hand out at the session, consider a one page handout that might have links to your conference material page on the IUG website and other resources.

  • Always include your name, affiliation (and/or address) and the title and session number of your talk.
  • Keep it very short, strictly relevant to the topic being covered and easily understood.
  • Number passages/sections in the document and refer to them as you speak.
  • Include only essential bibliography and Weblinks.
  • Materials will be posted in pdf, jpg, or png formats, or you may submit a URL. If you’re using a Word or PowerPoint format, you can convert to pdf and they will display easily in the conference app. Program Committee members will assist in file conversions and uploads.
  • We highly recommend that you submit the materials as far in advance as possible.

PowerPoint Presentation

It is now increasingly the case that audiences assess the technical quality
of what you say, not only by what is in your presentation, but also by the effectiveness
of your visual aids. Someone who has prepared carefully for the session will
come across more effectively and make a better impression. A few Do’s and Don’ts

  • Do use a title or introductory slide. Have this slide on the screen as attendees enter the room. If there are two distinct presentations, make sure they are on the same computer and have the same introductory slide on both PPT files.
  • Do use a summary slide or two at the end — one for major conclusions and another for recommendations.
  • Don’t plan on more than about one slide per minute of your talk. (There can be exceptions if you talk to and instruct from a particularly important slide.) Limit each slide to one main idea. If you have more than 50 slides, your presentation may be too long.
  • Don’t copy all or a large part of a printed (or typed) page. Cut out or copy just the excerpt you need to use and arrange it on a page with other graphics or personal lettering for proper highlight or emphasis.
  • Do keep it simple. Don’t try to put too much information on one slide. Limit the number of words on each slide.
  • Don’t use long columns, figures or big tabulations. Include these items in handouts.
  • Do use capital and lower case letters. Make limited use of ALL CAPS as it is difficult to read.
  • Don’t use dark or solid background for your handout slides. Dark or solid background tend to create printing problems, especially for people using inkjet printers. You may use a different background for the slides used during the presentation.
  • Do use a large font size (24 point, minimum).
  • Please be considerate to the people in the audience by NOT placing important information on the bottom 25% of the slide. Some people may not be able to see it from the seats in the rear of the breakout rooms.

While many colors are available, try to use no more than three. That is: black, red, blue, green; or black, red, and brown. Use black for axes on graphs. If you are making a pictorial sketch, more colors can be used if it appears naturally that way. Remember that handouts produced from your PowerPoint slides will usually be printed in black and white, so color distinctions will be lost. Handouts are easier to read if they are prepared with a light background with dark text. You may want to prepare two versions of your slides – one optimized for black & white quick printing, the other for the live presentation. Transporting Your Files. Keep your presentation on a Flash Drive or CD with you in your carry-on luggage along with the copy on your laptop. Don’t send them in checked baggage — they may not arrive with you at your destination. If you can, place a copy of the latest file on webspace that you have OR email a copy to yourself. With PPT files, it is better safe than sorry. Remember that the quality of your presentation depends upon you, your voice, and the visuals — all three integrated during your presentation.  

Audio/Visual (AV)

We will not supply computers — you must bring your own laptop, software etc. The Conference will supply a table for four, podium w/microphone, lavalier microphone, computer data projectors with VGA or HDMI cables, data connection, and power connections for each room. Presenters using MACs and other devices should bring their own connectors. Program Coordinators will have an opportunity to specify additional AV when contacted by the AV Coordinator. We will try to accommodate requests whenever possible. Given the time allocations in the program, we need to have very efficient change-overs between presenters. Consider loading presentations from all presenters on the same laptop. This eliminates change-overs in equipment and makes sessions run more smoothly. Be sure to test your equipment beforehand but be prepared for hardware or software problems and be ready to speak without these tools if necessary. Laptops can give very effective presentations (e.g. PowerPoint slides with fades and dissolves between successive frames) and for interactive demonstrations — but we have seen many examples of laptops not working during the actual presentation even though they have been tested beforehand. If you are sharing a laptop, make sure that special fonts are loaded on the computer and that it can run your presentation. This is normally not an issue except if you use special slide animations or some multi-media in your slides. If you are sharing a presentation slot with another speaker and you have different programs, please be sure that you do not go over your alloted time. It is inconsiderate to hog all the time and leave other speakers with little time to share their work.  NOTE: There will be a podium ‘prompt on each podium reminding presenters to end on time. Hardwired Internet access will be available for every program. You may prepare live demonstrations. However, in case of unexpected networking difficulties, we highly recommend that you still prepare screen captures. You may also want to practice switching to your canned presentation in the event of connectivity
problems. Note: These will be ‘wired’ connections, not wireless.  


All presentations must be presented in English. It would be best to practice your completed oral presentation at least one time in front of a live audience
which approximates the level of expertise you might expect to encounter. They will provide the best barometer of the effectiveness of your presentation. Above all else, make certain that your presentation will be (not can be) delivered within the time allotted. If possible, aim for making the presentation short by a couple of minutes. Program Coordinators are requested to hurry or even stop speakers who exceed their limit to ensure all speakers are given their share of time for presentation.

Prior to your Talk

  • Check the room where your presentation will be held to make certain that it has everything you will need.
  • Meet with the Program Coordinator and other presenters at least ten to fifteen minutes before the session.
  • Sit with the other presenters near the front and at the table.

During your talk

  • Make every effort to hold your audience by maintaining eye contact (ideally with a variety of people), modulating your voice and employing a lively delivery.
  • Speak slowly and into the microphone so that you can be heard and understood.
  • Do not attempt to compensate for a lengthy presentation by speaking fast.
  • Remind the audience of any program materials that you have available on the IUG website.
  • If everyone has stuck to the time limit, there may be an opportunity for the Program Coordinator to ask for questions or comments.
  • Stay for the entire session to listen to the other presenters. If there is some compelling reason to leave early, inform the Program Coordinator ahead of time.
  • Try not to read the slides, except where it is really needed (say when going over the presentation outline. This can really be tough for those that are in the audience. Remember that the slides are NOT the presentataion.

Suggestions for Effective Presentations

  • Turn off screen saver before beginning your presentation.
  • Limit your speaking notes to headings and key phrases.
  • Trust Yourself. The people are there to hear what you have to share about the system.
  • A bit of humor early in your talk will relax you and your audience. (If your joke bombsfret not and move on. Think of a baseball batter who fails 60% of the time and is a superstar!)
  • During your talk, make eye contact with a few friendly faces.
  • Wear your lucky socks.
  • Make sure that your presentation keeps to the time limit and that you leave some time for questions (maybe 10 minutes).
  • Relax and enjoy yourself. Remember that you do not have to be eloquent or perfect!

If you use overheads, and need to point to the text or diagrams, always point to the screen not to the overhead itself (since your body would now obscure
the view for part of the audience.) The Program Coordinator controls the session time. To be fair to all presenters, the Coordinator may stop you when your time is up, whether you have finished or not. Remember — the audience appreciates a shorter presentation which covers the main points and allows time for discussion.  

Question/Answer and Discussion Periods

  • Be prepared with one or two starter questions given out to friends and associates to use if questions are slow to start.
  • Always repeat the question before answering.
  • If you would rather, you can take questions during the presentation. But be noteful of the time, especially if you are sharing the program hour with other speakers.
  • Answer briefly and to the point. If a lengthy response is necessary, offer to meet with the questioner after the session.
  • Handle uncomplimentary discussion or questions without demeaning the asker. Try to figure out in advance what negative comments or tough questions are likely to be asked, and be prepared.
  • Be ready for the odd jerk input — off the subject or just talking to be heard.
  • To retain control, be ready to admit to any soft spots which may require more experience and study.
  • Always repeat the question before answering.
  • Since program materials are made available before the Conference, as well as opportunities for Presenters to submit updated program materials after the Conference, the practice of recording each program has been discontinued. Forums will remain as the only programs to be recorded and summarized. To ensure IUG members have access to all information relevant to each program, the Program Committee strongly encourages Presenters to summarize questions and answers and/or discussions that take place during the presentation for posting after the Conference along with other program materials.
  • And FinallyAlways repeat the question before answering.

For Program Coordinators

  • Ask a friend (someone not on the program with you) to stand in the back of the room and count the number of people attending the session. Report this back to the Program Chair after the session.
  • Check the room well in advance to ensure that the lighting, sound, seating, and AV equipment suit your needs.
  • Come early to the session to introduce yourself to the presenters and the presenters to each other.
  • Start the session on time, but use your judgment.
  • Do not be afraid to ask if there are Innovative staff in the room. They will attend nearly every session and can help with some questions.
  • Welcome the audience and announce the topic of the session; state whether you intend to permit questions after each presentation or if they should be held until the end of the program.
  • Introduce yourself (name, position, and institution) and any other speakers. The IUG does not assign people to do the introductions for each session. Keep your introductions brief and to the point.
  • Control the time for the session. Remind speakers of their time limits before the beginning of the session and give them signals of time remaining as they are speaking. Be prepared to stop them if necessary to ensure all speakers are given the appropriate amount of time. This is very important to be sure that all speakers get an opportunity to present what they have prepared.
  • If you allow questions, field them yourself. Always repeat the question before answering. Diplomatically keep questions from dragging on. You can always suggest that questioners meet with the presenter after the session for further discussion.
  • Conclude the session by thanking the presenters and audience. Remain afterwards for a few minutes to thank each presenter personally.

Updated by Renee Brumett, April 5, 2018
Updated by Eeva Stierwalt,
February 9, 2015
Updated by Christine Rigda, September ,13, 2011
Updated by Pat
Crawford, September 23, 2009
Updated by Carol Gyger, January 11, 2009
Updated by
John Culshaw, March 17, 2008
Updated by Nancy Fleck, April 6, 2007
Updated by Corey
Seeman, March 1, 2006
Updated by Cheryl Gowing, February 16, 2005
Updated by Carol
Wu, February 23, 2004
Updated by Anne Myers, January 5, 2003
Created by Peter Murray,