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Presentation Guidelines

This guide has been designed to help you prepare for your presentation. Below are some guidelines, tips and advice to follow in preparation for a successful presentation at the Ground Control Conference.

Tailor Your Presentation To The Audience

For example, you would not use the same style when presenting to a group of elementary students and to a board of trustees. Don’t talk down to your listeners. Try to empathize with the audience’s areas of interest and their specific concerns whenever possible.

If your paper is prepared only for the Preprint USB—and you are not requesting peer review, follow the preprint format.

Specifics for SME Speakers

  • SME does not collect presentations. Please bring it with you to the conference on a flash drive.
  • Unless otherwise notified, each presentation is 20 minutes long.
  • A template is provided on the website for your convenience. It is not mandatory to use it.

Audio/Videotaping, Digital Recording and Photography

  • Because all presentations and associated materials are the speaker’s intellectual property, please obtain the speaker’s permission before recording their session or activity in any medium. Recording for commercial purposes is allowed only with prior permission from both SME and the speaker. SME reserves the right to ask any attendee to move within or to leave a session venue if their use of technology is disruptive to speakers or other attendees.
  • PLEASE NOTE: By registering for the conference, participants agree that images, audio, and video recorded on-site may be used for educational and promotional purposes by SME.

Keep Your Presentation Simple

  • When putting your presentation together, remember that simpler is better. Many presenters follow the “10-20-30” rule, which is to use 10 or fewer slides, keep your presentation under 20 minutes and use at least 30-point font. This helps ensure your presentation is clear, crisp and to the point. Much of the effectiveness of your presentation lies in your voice, explanations and body language, not the presentation materials themselves.
  • You should also try and keep your main ideas to three or fewer key points. Mention them at the beginning and end of your presentation to ensure the audience remembers the most important message.

Prepare and Practice

  • After you’ve put together your presentation, you should dedicate time to preparing your talking points. To do this, it can be helpful to ask a few trusted friends or colleagues to listen to a test run. Ask for their honest feedback about your visuals, speaking voice, body language and other aspects of the presentation.
  • Be sure to practice but not memorize your speech. If you memorize every line of your presentation, it can be easy to get off track when you are nervous or forget a word or two. Instead, prepare simple talking points that can direct your presentation. Speak openly and be confident in your knowledge on the subject.

Start Strong and Tell Stories

  • To capture your audience’s attention throughout the presentation, it can be helpful to craft a strong, engaging beginning. However you decide to start your presentation, make sure that it is relevant to your presentation and supports the main message you want your audience to remember at the end. Here are a few ways you can do this:
    • Present an interesting question, problem or anecdote.
    • Quote an influential or interesting person.
    • Share a story that leads to the main topic of your presentation.
    • Show an interesting statistic, chart or image.
    • Play a brief video that sets up your presentation.
    • Make a statement that generates curiosity or shocks the audience.
  • Telling stories is a good way to make the concepts, ideas or information you are presenting relatable. It adds context and helps the audience more deeply understand and connect with your presentation. Again, only tell stories that will improve upon and support your main ideas.

Show Enthusiasm

  • Displaying your interest and care for the topic or information you are presenting will engage and capture the audience’s attention. People enjoy listening to people who are genuinely excited about sharing their knowledge with others.



Find a Mentor or Mimic Other Inspirational Figures

  • While you should certainly develop and display your own speaking personality, it can be helpful to learn from other great speakers. Seek out someone at your company who you feel is a great presenter and ask them to be your mentor. Be clear about your goals and what you hope to gain from the relationship.
  • Also, there are nearly endless amounts of online videos, classes and other resources dedicated to improving presentation skills. Take time to study other presentations and mimic the qualities you find effective.

Leverage Body Language, Facial Expressions and Eye Contact

While the written and verbal content of your presentation is certainly important, your nonverbal communications should help support the information you are sharing:

  • Calmly move around the stage or floor where you are presenting instead of staying in one place. Make your movements flow with the presentation instead of being distracting.
  • Avoid placing yourself behind a podium or table if possible.
  • Make eye contact with the audience to make your presentation feel personal and conversational.Use gestures and facial expressions to support moments when you are explaining a concept or showing excitement about a topic.
  • Stand up straight with your shoulders back and arms unfolded to display confidence and to make the audience feel welcomed into your presentation.

Use Visuals

  • If a concept can be supported or more easily explained with a visual aid, use them in your presentation. While you will likely have slides that will support your presentation visually, it can also help to have infographics, charts, photographs, videos, drawings or renderings. If it makes things difficult or more complex in any way, err towards keeping your presentation simple and accessible.

Support Your Audience

  • While you are creating and giving your presentation, be attentive to the needs of the audience by asking “What would make this learning experience the most enjoyable and effective possible?” This might mean explaining a difficult concept in more detail, moving around the stage, or inviting your audience to participate in some way.
  • Make sure you are honest and authentic throughout your presentation, connecting and being conversational with your audience. You should always talk “to” your audience instead of “at” them.

Use Your Voice

  • One way to support your audience is to use a strong speaking voice. It is important that you do not make your audience either strain to hear you or struggle to pay attention to a speaker that is too loud.
  • A good way to test your volume is by practicing your presentation in the space beforehand with trusted friends or colleagues who can provide feedback on your speaking voice. If you are struggling to maintain a confident, calm tone at a good volume, consider using a microphone of some sort. Make sure to test the microphone and associated technology beforehand.

Relax and Enjoy Yourself

  • Creating and presenting information to one, several or a large group of people is a huge accomplishment. Enjoy yourself during the process—it will make your presentation better. If you are feeling anxious beforehand, place your feet shoulder-width apart with fists on your hips, your chin held high and a soft smile. Doing so increases confidence and reduces nerves. Take several deep breaths.

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