Distributing Materials to Session Participants - From Attending to Presenting at Conferences - Conference Proposals and Article Types

Writing for Publication: Transitions and Tools that Support Scholars’ Success - Mary Renck Jalongo, Olivia N. Saracho 2016

Distributing Materials to Session Participants
From Attending to Presenting at Conferences
Conference Proposals and Article Types

Irrespective of the particular type of session, participants frequently expect to have something tangible to carry away. For a person delivering a keynote address, that might consist of a one-page list of publications with a link to the PowerPoint presentation or key talking points at the conference website. Increasingly, presenters are using a QR code to save paper and make sure that any participant has access to their materials. For the uninitiated, the QR is the little box with black marks inside, such as those that appear on the back of a print catalog; it stores information similar to barcodes that are scanned at the grocery store checkout. For those presenting a research poster, the QR might lead to an image of the poster as well as a one-page description of the study. For a researcher delivering a paper, it might be the research abstract, a list of talking points, a short paper, or a link to the complete paper—depending upon what the conference planners require or recommend. Practical, workshop types of sessions tend to include the most in terms of material distributed to the participants, such as activities, case studies, and annotated lists of print and online resources. Table 4.4 offers general recommendations on preparing handouts.

Table 4.4

Advice on handouts

1. Be selective. Do not assume that you can duplicate articles or pages from books without permission; many publications are copyright protected—including your own. If you signed a copyright transfer agreement for a manuscript that you published, you will need to request permission to use it

2. Synthesize. It is far better to combine the best elements from a number of different resources and “make it your own”. For example, a table that highlights key research findings and has a reference list attached is more helpful than complete copies of articles. Not only does it save on paper, it also allows you to travel light. Do not assume that the conference planners will make copies for you; this usually is the presenter’s responsibility and can become quite expensive

3. Be precise. Scholars will expect you to provide the complete reference when you cite others’ work. Make sure that you cite the name and date for paraphrased material and the exact page number for direct quotations. For popular quotations, do a search online to find an authoritative source for the original quotation. Proofread very carefully; any errors will be pointed out to you and the person whose name you spelled incorrectly may be attending your session

4. Be inventive. Instead of simply delivering the message or falling back on audience brainstorming, try something more engaging. For a workshop, you might, for example, begin with a “quiz” that addresses several major misconceptions about your topic (and the evidence to support each answer) as a way of addressing them early on. For part of a dinner speech, I once created a readers’ theater script about a current controversy for members of the audience perform; this held the group’s interest better than a speech delivered at the end of full workday and after a big meal. If you are doing a workshop or webinar and want to use examples, anecdotes, or case studies, draw upon your own experience and write your own (while maintaining confidentiality) instead of using previously published ones. This not only demonstrates your expertise but also avoids sharing something that may be familiar to some members of the audience already

5. Make it manageable. A half-day or all-day session will require quite a bit of material. However, you’ll want to consider the best way to distribute materials. If you create a packet with the entire session and hand it out at the start of the session, some attendees may browse through everything quickly and become bored later on. On the other hand, if you stop to distribute each piece of paper separately, it can interrupt the flow of the session. Creating some clusters of material strikes a balance between these two extremes. At times, it may not be necessary for everyone to have a paper copy of something. Just say that you are “going green” and, for example, put the instructions for a small group activity up on the screen instead. Be sure to number the pages for ease of reference

6. Follow up. If a session is more popular than anticipated and you run out of materials, either give attendees a way to contact you or create a sign-up sheet. Send the material out to them promptly after the conference. The QR code, described above, can be particularly helpful in this instance