Keep Your Antennae Up!

notebook-pencilNext week, the SCBWI Summer Conference will be underway in Los Angeles. Published authors and illustrators will be giving keynotes, workshops and intensives over the course of four days. It’s the perfect lab for you to study their presentation techniques and see what you might borrow to put in your own presentation toolbox.

Many of us keep a notebook in hand to record quotable quotes or inspirations. But consider devoting a special part of your notebook to record what’s working (or not) in a presenter’s delivery.

Here are some things to look for:

  • Opening: What were the first words out of the presenter’s mouth? Was the opening memorable? (Many speakers take 2 or more minutes of “throat clearing” before launching into their presentation, losing precious time!)
  • Voice: Was it clear? Understandable? At a pace and range (high/low) that was easy to listen to? (My ears can’t listen fast enough to some rapid-fire speakers!! And some voices are pitched so high, only dogs can hear them.)
  • Gestures: Were they appropriate and not distracting? (Ever been in a room with a speaker who’s a pocket change rattler?)
  • Visuals: Were they easy to read? Did they amplify the talk or were they extraneous? (Slide after slide composed of tiny text is coma-inducing.)
  • Demeanor: Did the speaker relate to the audience through humor or personal stories? (We’re wired for stories. And we love speakers who “get” us.)
  • Content: Was it practical? Inspirational? Meaty? (Will you remember what this person said 5 minutes afterwards? 10 minutes? A day later?)
  • Closing: Was it solid or did it drift off at the end? (And I should add, “on time.”)

When all is said and done, what was the biggest take-away this presenter had for you?

What did you learn (either positive or negative) that might be applicable to your own presentations?

At the SCBWI Summer Conference, there will be 14 Keynotes, 2 Editor/Agent Panels, 83 Workshops and Golden Kite Luncheon Speakers. If you keep your antennae up, you’ll come home with a toolbox bursting with fabulous presentation ideas.

 Share some insights with us here when you return!

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