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The annual conference of the Innovative Users Group (IUG) has always been a popular forum for library staff to make their first major professional presentation. The IUG is pleased to provide a forum for interesting ideas developed by its members, no matter what their background. This Guide for Presenters was created to provide practical assistance, not only to first-time presenters, but also to experienced speakers, especially if they have never attended one of our meetings.
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. This is a work in progress, so please address any comments or additions to the Steering Committee of the IUG.
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 INNOPAC 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 INNOPAC list. (You can use the search engine on the INNOPAC list archives to find those who have posted on similar topics.) Another way is to look through the Directory of Innovative libraries (available online on CSDirect). You can also post a message to the INNOPAC list about your interest in a topic and desire to find co-presenters or panelists.
Concentrate on the main points you want to make. We recommend you answer the following questions, and 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 summarise them.
- How did I solve the problem? How good is the solution?
- What is the relationship of this work to other work in the field?
- What are the unanswered questions or problems which still remain to be solved in this area? (i.e., 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.
If you answer these questions in your presentation and stick to the main points of what you have done, we can guarantee the audience will be interested. This is what everyone wants. Please ensure you do it!
You should be sensitive to the diversity of types of libaries 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 in the conclusions at the end. The old guideline for preachers and politicians is still true for Conference and technical presentations:
- Tell the audience what you are going to tell them
- Tell them
- Tell them what you've told them
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 one.
Having written program materials (formerly known as handouts!) is almost always a good idea, especially if you wish to draw attention to textual material, bibliography or visual details during your presentation. This year program materials will be available in advance of the meeting, which will help people make decisions about which sessions to attend. They will also be included in the Conference Proceedings, which are added to the IUG website after the conference.
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 website prior to the conference and linked from a special page for 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.
- You should 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.
- Only materials prepared in PowerPoint, HTML, Excel, Word or WordPerfect will be accepted - the limit is 5 MB per session (all presenters combined).
- Presentations will be posted in PowerPoint and as PowerPoint handouts in PDF format. These will be prepared by members of the program committee to ensure consistency.
- Presentations in HTML format should be submitted as files rather than links to external sites whenever possible. This ensures long term access to the materials.
- Deadline for submitting program materials this year is Friday April 4, although they can be submitted prior to that time.
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 and how smart they look. Someone who has prepared carefully for the session will come across more effectively and make a better impression. Thus most people will not use handwritten transparencies today (even though they could use multicolor pens and write in big letters) simply because it makes the presentation look as if it has been done in haste at the last minute.
The trend today is to use computerized presentation software, usually PowerPoint. Below are some "Do's and Don'ts" guidelines for creating your slides:
- Do use a title or introductory slide. Have this slide on the screen as attendees enter the room.
- 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 clear and important slide.) Limit each slide to one main idea.
- Do talk to your slides -- also use your slide to talk from and lead easily into the next.
- 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 or figures or a big tabulation. Include these items in handouts.
- Do use capital and lower case letters. Make limited use of ALL CAPS (for emphasis only); it is difficult to read.
- Do use a large font size (24 point, minimum).
While many colors are available, try to hold the colors on any visual to three, and aim for two. That is: black, red, blue, green: or black, red, and brown. Use black for axes on graphs. Of course 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.
Transporting Your Slides. Keep your presentation on a diskette with you in your carry-on luggage along with the copy on your computer. Don't send them in checked baggage -- they may not arrive with you at your destination. Remember that the quality of your presentation depends upon you, your voice, and the visuals -- all three integrated during your presentation.
We will not supply computers -- you must bring your own laptop, software etc. The Conference will supply computer data projectors, video cables, and power connections for each room. Program Coordinators will have an opportunity to specify additional AV when contacted by the AV Coordinator. We will try to accommodate requests whenever possible.
We recommend NOT using a computer unless you are experienced and can guarantee you can get it to work. 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 computer. This eliminates change-overs in equipment and makes sessions run more smoothly. If you cannot get your computer to work at the last minute, this is likely to cause a major problem. Computers 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 computers not working during the actual presentation even though they have been tested beforehand. Be prepared for hardware or software problems and be ready to speak without these tools if necessary.
Live Internet access is not available for programs, for technological, logistical, and financial reasons. Please make arrangements to use screen captures rather than a live connection to accompany your presentation.
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 argumentation.
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. No one has ever been criticized for taking less than the allotted time, but Program Coordinators are requested to hurry or even cut off speakers who exceed their limit. It is both unfair and rude to the other speakers in the session when one person takes more than his or her share of time.
All presentations must be presented in English. If your native language is not English or you have not done many presentations before, you are strongly advised to practice beforehand. Please ask your supervisor or manager to set up a session in your institution where you can deliver your presentation to a small group of colleagues. They can provide you with feedback and constructive help prior to the Conference. Note that this is also a very good idea even if English is your native language. We therefore recommend that all presenters do this.
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 and may stop you when your time is up, whether you have finished or not. The reason is simple: it is not fair on the next presenter for you to overrun, as the session then ends up by overrunning and everyone is then late for the next event in the program.
Remember -- the audience does really appreciate a shorter presentation which covers the main points and allows time for discussion. It is much better to patronize the few than confuse the many.
Return to IUG San Jose 2003 Return to Innovative Users Group
Updated by Anne Myers, January 5, 2003
Created by Peter Murray, 2000