I routinely do presentations and thought many of the things I do and know about presenting to an audience were simply common sense. However, sitting in workshops over a three-day conference gave me the perspective of a participant. It appears that many of the common sense things that I do and know are not so common sense. How many ways can someone screw up a presentation? From the back row, let me count the ways!
If the participants have paid for the workshop, don't berate them for their choice of seats - If I want to sit near the back or near an exit, honor that. Don't yell for us to move down front to make YOU feel "at home."
Ensure that materials for the workshop are distributed prior to the workshop - Don't take the most important 5 minutes of the presentation, the first five minutes, to distribute materials. The theory of primacy and recency states that the beginning and the end are the two most important points in anything, whether it be a string of numbers or segments in a workshop. People tend to remember the first and last things more accurately than everything that happens in the middle of the presentation. In my workshop, I remember how to pass out materials that the presenter forgot to distribute before I got there.
If you use an object in a demonstration, make sure I can see it - Don't hold up an object that you're going to use as a demonstration if I can't see it. Take a photo of it and make it part of your PowerPoint slides rather than refer to something that I cannot see. Also, if you are showing documents in a PowerPoint slide, make sure it's enlarged to the point that I can read it. It does me no good to see a document where the only thing I can make out are the margins and general layout.
Know how to work your equipment - Don't turn off your own digital projector in the middle of your presentation due to your own incompetence.
Have credentials that support your authority on the topic that you are presenting - In this conference, there are some teachers presenting on topics that they may or may not be an authority on. Don't ask me to take what you say on face value. Tell me what makes you qualified in this area so that I want to listen to you. Just because you teach five days a week, doesn't make you an expert on classroom discipline.
Speak Correctly - "What's wit you?" "What you lookin' for?" "Classrum" "Let me axe you." Please, show me that you desire to communicate with me by making it easy for me to understand what you are saying. Don't make me translate your message due to the fact that you did not want to. As an audience participant, I resent the laziness of those who want to be public speakers but refuse to learn and use the standard language of the audience.
Talk to me, not your screen - If you don't know what your projector is showing, you're not ready to present. At least use one of the many software applications that allow you to see what's on the screen without turning around and constantly looking at it. When you talk to your screen, I cannot hear you clearly.
Keep the jargon and buzzwords to a minimum - I'm so tired of hearing about "21st Century Educational Framework", "Guided Math", "Teach-To". Consider that you are speaking to novice participants, not just veterans in their profession.
Don't ask for questions if you're not prepared to answer them - It's aggravating for a presenter to ask for a question (e.g., "I hear a question...where is it?" Actually no one asked, this was the presenter's way of asking for a question.) and then not answer it (e.g., "We'll get to that in just a minute, I want to show you this first"). Why did she ask???
The poor presenters at this conference make me appreciate the effort of preparation and the hard work to learn the craft of public speaking of good public speakers and presenters.
It wasn't all bad, however. One group of presenters absolutely blew me away! They made none of the mistakes the other made and their level of preparation and professionalism in public speaking was outstanding. After three days, I felt like giving them a standing ovation! Bravo!