Night Before

  • Pick out what you’re going to wear.
    • Choose something comfortable. Do not wear new heels for the first time, a shirt that you have to keep adjusting, or a skirt that you have to keep pulling down.
    • Remember that you may have a microphone. We recommend a top with buttons or a collar that the mic can be clipped to, and pants or a belt that the transmitter can be hooked on.
    • Wear layers. It is common for large rooms to be too hot or too cold, so be prepared for either.
    • Double-check for stains and iron if necessary.
  • Back up your presentation on a USB just in case.
  • Pack your bag for the next day.
    • Computer and any necessary accessories (slide changer with working batteries, charging cables, adaptors, USB with your presentation)
    • An energy bar or other light snack
    • Business cards for networking
  • Go to bed early.
  • Set an alarm (or two) to make sure you wake up on time.

Morning Of

  • Bring your own water bottle (in case there’s limited access to water).
  • Eat a light breakfast. Or if you’re too nervous, pack a snack for after your talk.
  • Avoid foods and beverages that may tighten your vocal chords or dry out your throat (e.g. dairy products, cold drinks, orange juice, and carbonated beverages).

Before Your Session

  • Arrive early.
  • Say hello to the session organizer and work with the room technician to:
    • Make sure your computer connects to the projector and your presentation looks good under the lighting. Test any special graphics or movies.
    • Ask for a microphone if you want it.
    • Find an outlet for charging your computer if necessary.
  • Figure out where you want to stand while you’re presenting.
  • Use the restroom.
  • Meet and greet the audience. This shows that you’re approachable and you may learn something you can weave into your talk.

Before Your Talk

  • Five minutes before your talk, move to a standing position (in the back of the room or backstage). Shake out any nerves you might have. This will give your body a chance to warm up and get adjusted before you get on stage.
  • Go through the first minute of your talk in your mind. Knowing exactly how you’re going to start gives you confidence and enables you to make eye contact with the audience as you begin, helping to create a powerful first impression.
  • Calm your nerves.
    • If you start getting any panicky feelings, focus on slow, deep breaths.
    • Smile. Smiling increases endorphins and helps replace anxiety with calm and confidence.
  • Bring your water with you to the podium.
  • After getting up to the podium, take a deep breath and focus. Sometimes getting set up can add last minute distractions, so take a moment to ground and collect yourself.

Answering Questions and After Your Talk

  • When you hear a question, wait patiently until the questioner has finished speaking. Then repeat the question and take a breath before answering. This timing will allow other audience members to understand the question and will give you some time to formulate a cogent, coherent response.
  • Take your mic off before walking away and don’t forget your water bottle.