So your panel got accepted, now what?
About time! Here’s where the real work starts.
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Brainstorm that PowerPoint.
If you really need it.
There’s nothing a solid, visually supporting power point to go with your panel discussion or workshop. It’s a visual aid, not a thesis paper, so treat it as a cue card for your upcoming panel. Microsoft 365 PowerPoint allows for speakers to see little notes about each slide before, and while it’s up for your audience without showing up in the slide itself. It’s also available as an app, so you turn your favorite cellphone or tablet into a remote!
So, if you’re a rambler like myself, it helps to jot down not only talking points for each section of your discussion/demo but little reminders of what’s coming next in the preview window.
Don’t need power point for your panel? That’s fine.
You should still think about it as a visual aid to any discussion or workshop focused panel. Most might not be able to see that thing that you are doing waaaay upfront. So, having a power point or at least a decent camera connected to a projector can help.
Did you remember to back up your work?
Every time you have to pause to think, hit that save button!
I’m guilty of this, but do try to back up your work to more than one location. More than likely, you’ll leave that flash drive at home or lend that external hard drive to a friend that forgot to bring it to the con.
My top place to save any work has to be Google Drive. All you need to have is an email and access to the internet to download your project. My second most frequent place to back up is on my desktop screen of my laptop or work computer. Always using file management, label a new folder ‘Panels’ then inside make a folder for a con and inside of that label a folder with the panel name. Trust me, its worth it when your searching around for that thing in a few days.
Third place, yes there’s a third place, I back up is to a couple flash drives and one external. My favorite and longest lasting external hard drive is still this model by Toshiba. However, I also have a larger solid state drive for my desktop these days by Seagate, but I don’t usually lug that one to cons as I worry about forgetting in a hotel one of these days.
Test Your Panel Offline.
Running it with your group, with your co-host, with your online friends.
The internet is such a great tool these days, you can see someone face to face from just about any part of the globe. As long as the wi-fi is still good, of course.
I know it can be daunting to find someone to help, but you should really practice what you plan to share with the geek world.
This also reminds me of an exercise I had to do for my Public relations course.
Practice in the mirror, about a few weeks out from presentation day.
Then once you’ve got it memorized, invite a friend or two over to watch and give you feedback. Adjust the presentation.
Then try it again, this time in public setting with a few people walking about. As a stranger for their feedback, if you brave enough. Adjust the presentation.
Then try it again in a room of at least 5 strangers and a few friends. You can probably do this at a rec center or at the public mall fountain and present your idea. NOT LIKE A MEGAPHONE LEVEL, just tap a few people and ask if they wouldn’t mind giving their opinion on something. Speak to them in a calm, casual voice, please. Adjust the presentation.
Not saying everyone should do this, but it could help….Or not. I got really mixed results each time, but I got over my fear of talking to strangers. That and joining a Theatre club helps to if your shy.
Also, definitely test your power point offline. Chances are high that you won’t have access to the convention WiFi or hotel WiFi without paying a hefty weekend fee. So, download those funny show clips!
So, you’ve done all of the above. Now, what?
Make a Checklist.
What all do you need to bring for your panel?
Print out your confirmation info and panel check-in time.
Read over what the con expects from you when you arrive, have that ID ready and print out to hand in (if needed) to your designated Check-in area.
But, before all that, get at least 8 hours of sleep, check your packing list for the weekend and get ready for the biggest day of your life. Maybe you’ll get a few fans along the way.
Did you like this series? Should I do another sometime?
Let me know in the comments below.
Don’t forget to check back through my previous posts for more tips for putting on a panel.