Those who follow the Ccaps Blog know that I recently wrote a post with a few tips for speakers. However, I think we should address not only those on stage or up there in front of everyone, but also those who attend lectures, webinars and presentations in general.
In other words, if you have never been a lecturer, but are a constant attendee in events, consider the following (in consideration of the distinguished speaker):
1. Turn off your cell phone.
If you cannot turn it off, at least mute it and avoid looking at it every time, especially if you are seating in a front row. Glancing at your cell phone every once in a while is understandable, but shifting your attention constantly to it may indicate lack of interest and discourage the speaker. Even if you are on Twitter, show an interest or make it clear before the lecture begins that you plan to tweet by asking the event’s hashtag for instance.
2. Try not to interrupt the speaker.
In most lectures I attended, the speaker reserved a few minutes at the end of the presentation for questions. Therefore, if a question comes up, write it down and save it for the end of the session. This helps the speaker maintain their train of thought and the session flows seamlessly.
3. Ask smart questions.
Try not to ask obvious questions or about topics that are too basic. For example, if you are attending a lecture designed for advanced users of computer assisted translation tools, asking something like “What is a CAT Tool?” reveals that you did not pay the slightest attention to what was being said. Remember that well-formulated questions are one way you can promote yourself.
4. Do not be offended if the speaker does not remember you.
Translation events are increasingly busier, and each year new people come into this industry. With this relatively intense flow of new faces, it is likely that the speaker will not remember each person he or she greets. Therefore, if the speaker does not immediately remember you, do not feel offended. Try to introduce yourself as directly as possible and offer “tips” that will help the speaker identify who you are (for example: “I’m that guy who posts comments on your blog…”) If they still do not remember you, let it go but be sure it is not at all intentional.
5. Strategize when chosing the lectures you want to attend.
People get often frustrated at events with consecutive lectures because they cannot decide on which one to attend. When three or four presentations are taking place at the same time, choosing can be a complicated process indeed. A good solution is to attend a little bit of each one. In other words, if the sessions last about one hour, watch 30 minutes of your favorite ones. If a friend is accompanying you, split up into different rooms and take notes to later exchange ideas between the two of you about the topics approached. This will ensure that the content will not be totally lost.
While very simple, these tips have helped me a great deal ever since my first conference and I hope they can help you too. Prepare yourself, design a plan and make the most of each second of your upcoming events!