Congratulations, you’re presenting at ESAL! If this is the first time you’ve presented a conference paper, you’ve come to the right place. At this point, you should have gotten your acceptance email with information about the conference. Once you’re armed with this information, check out our list of tips for first-time presenters in the links below, and don’t be afraid to ask us questions at EnglishStudiesAtLarge@gmail.com!
First, don’t be nervous. We’ve done this before, and there’s never been anything but a supportive atmosphere for the student presentations.
Second, be sure to read your paper aloud at least once before you deliver it. This will help you make sure that you’re within the time limit. It will also make your mouth comfortable with the words.
Also, be aware of enunciating and projecting (speaking loudly). There will be no amplification. If you’re not used to doing this, practice a little.
Third, be aware of your body language. Don’t fidget (play with your hair, sway side to side, scratch yourself a lot); the audience will end up watching you instead of listening to the paper. Don’t just stare at your paper as you read: look up at the audience from time to time (I keep my place in my paper with my thumb).
Fourth, I generally indicate a quotation when I’m reading a paper by saying “quote . . .” before I start reading someone else’s words. If it’s not self-evident that the quotation is over, I say “endquote.” Of course, you don’t need to read your parenthetical citations (Jones 42).
Fifth, after all the papers of a session have been read, the floor will be opened for questions. Don’t feel threatened. Usually people want to connect what you’ve talked about to something else they know or they want to give you a chance to talk more about one of your points. No one’s out to trick you or make you look dumb.
Finally … Have fun!