Developing a Successful Session Proposal
Drafting Your Session Proposal
Want to get started on drafting your session proposal? Session proposals should be between 50 and 75 words. Begin to get in contact with other colleagues to discuss your idea while gathering information on potential co-presenters and a session chair.
Submitting a Session Proposal
When submitting a session proposal, it is essential that you provide the Region VIII team with all of the required information, including a chair for your session. The chair has several responsibilities. He or she helps to ensure that the room is arranged appropriately and that media equipment is in place. They provide an introduction to attendees of the session and presenters. Additionally, they ensure that the session flows well and stays on time while distributing and collecting session evaluations. If you are having difficulty with finding a chair or other presenters to assist you on your presentation, please contact your knowledge community representative prior to submitting your presentation proposal.
Definitions of Session Types
Forum: Structured presentation based on a single theme, but without the power point/lecture style. Active participation on the part of both the presenter(s) and audience is expected.
Roundtable: Intended to be highly interactive. Presentations by presenters other than a short introduction of the topic are discouraged. Presenters should develop thought-provoking, open-ended questions to discuss the issues surrounding the key topics the roundtable is to address.
Lecture/Q and A: Traditional session with presenter(s) and a power-point presentation, followed by a Q and A period.
Poster Session: Interactive discussion over a single theme. Presenters bring a tri-fold, freestanding poster to display on a six-foot table and share your project or program, unique successes and lessons learned.
Best Practices for a Good Presentation
Most people don't have time because they are working on a million things at once and this is one more thing to add to your pile. The thing is, it only takes about a day to work on your presentation. If you don't have a day, then work on it for one hour daily for a week. Assign the same time slot so you don't forget and you are not interrupted. This works out well because you start conditioning yourself about what you want to say.
Below are some points to keep in mind when creating your presentation. Also look through NAFSA's Presenting and Training Guide: a resource for conference presenters and trainers to strengthen your design and delivery of content.
- Ask yourself questions: - am I getting my message across? Is the slide too wordy/busy? should I simplify? This will help you in crafting your message as well as preparing each of your slides.
- In creating slides, less is better. Only use a few slides to get the message across and include only highlights of your presentation. There is nothing worse than a presenter reading verbatim from the slides. The slides should be clear, use the same font throughout and when toying with the idea of color, put it up on a screen and darken the room. Ask yourself: can they see it? Can they read it? Are the colors/fonts/special effects distracting?
- Streamline your message by going back to the same thing after you have had a day to think about it.
- Set up deadlines, especially if you are working with someone who will be responsible for a different part of the presentation. Make sure your deadlines have a two or three day cushion. Doing things at the last minute usually results in spelling errors and graphic flubs.
- When the presentation is finished, have a conference call with your partner and do a run through. Pay attention and ask questions about his/her section and be ready to answer questions about yours.
- In preparing to go to the actual presentation, e-mail your presentation to yourself. Download it to a flash drive and give an electronic copy to your copresenter or someone else who will go there. This only takes a minute and can save you should there be technical difficulties or mishaps, which sometimes happen.
- Bringing handouts with you is a good idea but sending the presentation out via e-mail afterwards or posting the presentation on a Web site is better, not only for the environment but in getting your message across.
- Set up a sheet upon entry or pass it around as people are coming in and ask if everyone has had a chance to fill out their information. You can remind them after the presentation as well. This works if there is a question that you don't have an answer to--you can send the answer to the whole group. This could encourage further discussion, which may then alter/enhance your presentation.