There are three major parts to presenting at a conference: applying and submitting the program proposal, prepping once you are accepted as a "bridesmaid", and presenting the program proposal. These major parts are broken out into separate blog posts. This first blog post will focus on tips for applying to present at a conference.
1. Bounce topic ideas off of your colleagues. Your colleagues are going to be the people who know this field best. They are going to be able to point out if a topic seems overdone or if you have a unique spin to it. You should gather together a work group, as they will provide you with honest feedback.
2. Pick a topic you are interested in. If you pick a topic you are interested in, it will be easier to do the ground work. It will also be easier to dedicate time later if your proposal is accepted for presentation.
3. Do your research. By starting your research early, you will be able to have sources to cite and more details to add into the outline and the presentation application. Research will also assist you in seeing if there are enough talking points and sources to back up your presentation.
4. Plan a way to engage with audience members. Any potential audience member will not be willing to sit through a bunch of presentations that are not interactive all day long. Having ways to interact with your audience will help them stay focused, retain respective information, and appreciate your presentation more.
5. Figure out how this topic is applicable to multiple higher education institutions. While a topic could be good in theory, it could be frustrating if the attendee listening to it cannot apply it to their current institution. As an example, think about a topic with relation to funding. If the main part of your presentation cannot be done without a lot of funding, then it is not applicable or accessible to others.
6. Be thorough and detailed with the application. Program reviewers will want to see multiple details and enough talking points for the potential allotted amount of time. It will also help, that if you are selected, to write a lesson plan and create the presentation.
7. Try to have multiple presenters on the presentation. Programming review committees like to give many people the opportunities to present. It has been my experience that if there is one proposal that has only one presenter versus another proposal that has multiple, the proposal with multiple presenters will most likely be selected. The more people who are presenting, the more ideas that can come together to benefit more student affairs practitioners.
While it can be tempting to just throw in a brief outline and answer questions in a sentence or two, the program reviewers will want to see more details. Keeping these tips in mind will aid in your endeavors as you apply to present at a conference.
Author: Anastasia Chaky (she/her/hers) is a new-professional working as a Hall Director at Morehead State University. She is responsible for overseeing approximately 900 residents and 19 student staff members. She is especially passionate about assessment, student success, and leadership development, and strives to provide opportunities to grow and learn for her students. Originally from Warrensburg, Missouri, Anastasia earned her Bachelors of Business Administration in Marketing from the University of Central Missouri. Additionally, Anastasia earned her Masters of Science in Higher Education with a Leadership and Administration focus from Old Dominion University. Before working at Morehead State University, Anastasia held positions at the University of Central Missouri, Georgia Southern University, and Old Dominion University while working in the following departments: multicultural and inclusivity, housing, admissions and recruitment, and the student success center. Anastasia likes to spend her free time reading, exploring nature and new places, trying out new restaurants, and playing with her dog, Sinatra. Anastasia can be found on LinkedIn at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/agchaky/.