Tips for Speaking

Whether this is your first time presenting or if you are a seasoned pro, we want to make sure that you have a rewarding speaking experience. Each year, we ask an external evaluator to examine our conference and offer feedback. We’ve compiled some tips and suggestions for you based on those evaluations.

Know Your Attendees

Picture this: you are speaking to anywhere from 300 – 1,000+ attendees who have traveled from all over the world to learn and take something concrete out of your session. They are students and technical women from industry and academia. They’ve been planning for weeks to attend your session and are excited about using the takeaways when they get back. These women, your audience, should be forefront in your mind when planning your session.

General Tips for all Speakers

  • Practice, practice, practice! The effort you put into preparing your GHC presentation is a significant indicator of success, especially with panels.
  • Don’t just rehearse in font of your bathroom mirror. Use Women in Tech groups within your organization, meetups, colleagues, friends, and family to practice and time your session in front of a live audience.
  • Spend five minutes or less on introductions, as this takes time away from your presentation and from talking to your attendees.
  • End your session by summarizing the key takeaways for the attendees.

Tips based on Session Type

  • Presentations: Focus on your target research problem, proposed approach, results, and evaluation plan.
  • Panels: Meet with your panelists and practice! We recommend you create an agenda and determine who will speak about the different parts of your presentation given the expertise of the people participating. We encourage moderators to ask relevant questions each their panelists, instead of asking them all the same questions. Moderators should also craft questions to draw out disagreements with their panelists to cause friendly debates.
  • Workshops: Work with your fellow facilitator(s) beforehand in order to create an organized, cohesive plan. Also, plan for a larger audience – if you are bringing handouts, be sure to print out enough!
  • Poster Session: We’re unable to print your poster, so make sure to bring it with you to GHC. Prepare to present your poster multiple times to different types of attendees – some may be experts in your field, some may not. See our rules for speaking for more information about poster logistics.
  • Student Opportunity Lab: This is an opportunity for you to meet with students on a more personal level. You will NOT have any audio-visual support. Prepare your presentation based on this format; you may end up having a conversation with a few students per session.
  • ACM Student Research Competition participants: In addition to presenting your poster to attendees, prepare to discuss your poster with judges. If you are a semi-finalist, prepare a formal 10-minute presentation of your poster before a panel of judges, with a supporting PowerPoint presentation.