Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Doing a presentation at an AFOL Convention?

Written by: Bryan Bonahoom

At every AFOL convention there are presentations made by the fans attending the event. Why? Because one of the major points of AFOL conventions is to share what you know with your fellow hobbyists. And, let's be honest. It is cool when other people adopt your techniques. It kind of gives you a sense of pride. It is cool when other people admire your creation. It kind of gives you a sense of pride.

Anyone doing a presentation wants it to be a success. But, a lot of people making the presentations don't have a lot (if any) experience speaking to a group of people. So, here are some tips and some straight talk for you to consider.

First - and I don't include this in the list below because this one point is so very important to remember - you are doing a presentation in front of a group of people that has chosen of their own free will to be there. They ARE INTERESTED in what you have to say. They WANT TO LEARN. So, you can be confident in your topic of discussion. This one element of fear can lead you to making a presentation that comes across as scattered because you might jump through multiple topics for fear someone might not like your focus. Don't be afraid. Embrace your topic. Focus on your topic. Stick to your topic.

Some pointers:
  1. Introduce yourself. And, don't just give your name. Tell the audience enough about you and your interests so they understand why you chose to volunteer to make this presentation or lead this discussion.
  2. Maybe you are an expert on this topic. Maybe you aren't. Tell them who you are and why you are there. Don't embellish. Be straight. And, be prepared for someone else in the room to know as much (if not more) than you. Don't argue with them. Embrace their input. They are engaging in your discussion. There is usually no one right way to do things. Of course, if they are trying to take over and redirect, you can politely ask that you have that discussion after your official time is up. There are always places where you can talk to people at conventions.
  3. Organize yourself before the presentation. Maybe you have slides. Maybe you have notes. Maybe you have example creations. Just make sure that whatever you are doing, it is organized. Nothing ruins a presentation quicker than the presenter wasting time trying to find things or figure out what they were going to say.
  4. Have a goal and make the goal clear to the audience. I want to teach you how to....I want to show you how I....I want to give you an understanding of....I want us all to discuss xyz and broaden our knowledge....whatever it is, make sure the goal is clear. It will help keep the presentation/discussion focused.
  5. Have fun!! This is a hobby convention. If you have fun, the audience is a lot more likely to have fun. Stories about things you had to do over and self-deprecating humor usually work well.
  6. If someone gets up and leaves, that is okay. There are many reasons people will leave that have nothing to do with whether you are doing a good job. So, don't panic about this if it happens.
  7. Ask for feedback at the end. Invite the audience members to stop and talk in the hallway to hear how you did. A few will actually do it. Listen to what they say. Don't argue. Don't make excuses. Just say thank you for the feedback and give it consideration. If they perceived something wrong, there was a reason. And, if you think about it, you will figure out why they had that perception. Perception is reality. You can't back track them into your mind afterwards. And, arguing with them will only cause friction.

There is a growing need at all conventions for new people to step up and talk about things. Old things...new things. Whatever!! The possibilities for topics are endless. I hope you find this information useful!!!

Play well, Bryan

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