Best Practices: LOEX Breakout Sessions

1. Clearly present what you promised

Attendees select which sessions to attend by reading the session title, abstract, and learning outcomes that you provided, so be sure to present what you stated! Don't wander too far off topic or you may lose your audience.

2. Use your time (fifty minutes) effectively

You have 50 minutes for your session. If you try to cram in too much material, you may have to leave out some key points or findings; alternatively, you do not want be completely done at the 30 minute mark. Participants are looking for a clear, useful session in the time allotted. Practice your entire presentation but also be ready to discretely discard select, less important details if time runs short. Do not forget to leave time for questions, either interspersed throughout your session or at the end.

3. Practice, Practice, Practice

Practice your presentation in advance, and in front of an audience if possible. Anticipate key questions ahead of time and have an answer prepared. Know your material so well that you will not need to rely on a script. At the same time, do not try to memorize every word of your presentation; that can tend to make for a robotic presentation.

4. PowerPoint (and any other presentation software)

If you use PowerPoint (or similar), do not stuff your slides with text. Instead, try to use visuals like graphs, photographs and other images to emphasize your most important points. Use text only when it provides real value to the attendee (e.g., a few bullets when you have a list of items; a key takeaway).

Consider incorporating, based on appropriateness for your content, at least one of the many, many techniques to make your session more interactive and engaging. Also, pay attention to audience responses and adjust your presentation accordingly. Your audience may feel more engaged if you feel comfortable taking questions throughout your presentation; if you don't, however, explain that you will take all questions at the end.
Regardless of when you take questions, before answering, always repeat the question posed to you as you understand it. This helps assure that you fully understand the question and assures that audience members have heard it also. And it gives you a chance to formulate a complete answer. 

6. Assistance from room coordinator (e.g., introductions)

A room coordinator--a volunteer from the local committee--will be available to introduce you, call for technical assistance if needed, and collect the evaluation forms that LOEX will later mail to you. If you would like the coordinator to say anything in the introduction beyond your name, job title and institution (e.g., some additional research you have performed) and the session's title, please just let them know.

7. Multiple presenters

If there are multiple presenters, consider how you will switch smoothly among yourselves and how much time it will take to shift from section to section of your presentation.

8. If your room has a microphone, strongly consider using it

Podium microphones are in certain rooms (depending on size). If your room has a mic, the average presenter will need it to be heard clearly, without shouting, by the entire audience especially those who might be hard of hearing. However, every presenter is different; you may have a naturally loud speaking voice. So if you decide to not use the mic, let the attendees know they should raise their hand if they can not hear you clearly.