Note: this is meant for my students, and for first-time presenters at a large convention like AECT.
Roundtable presentation sessions at the AECT Convention are fairly informal opportunities to interact with attendees about your project. Roundtable presentations are generally just what they sound like. The setting is a very large open room like a banquet hall at the convention hotel. It is loud, and a bit chaotic. The room is filled with round tables that seat usually eight people. On each table will be a number. When you enter the room (ahead of time), find the person in charge. This person will tell you which numbered table is your table. Go to your table and wait for the session to begin. The roundtable session is usually one hour in duration. There are usually no other AECT sessions scheduled during the roundtable time, so that encourages all attendees to participate in the roundtable sessions.
Typically you will give your "presentation" three times–that is, 20 minutes for each time. A facilitator for the room will announce, every 20 minutes, that attendees can stand up and move to a different table. You as presenter stay at your table. So–you may end up with a full table or an empty table, depending on who is attending and who is interested in your topic. Note — I’m describing past conventions. Future conventions could be different in format, etc.
Usually the poster sessions are also in the same large room at the same time. So there may be people wandering around the perimeter of the room looking at the posters and talking with the poster creators.
There is a lot of â€œcome and goâ€ during the rountable session hour. Some attendees may drop in briefly, or just want to take one of your handouts and read it later. Often, attendees are there to support colleagues, or they may be presenting as well, and may need to be present at a particular table. Donâ€™t take it personally if an attendee doesn’t stay with you the full 20 minutes.
How to Prepare and Present
The roundtable sessions are generally intended and arranged to be discussions. Since you will have usually no more than 20 minutes with a group, you should plan to talk for no more than 5 to 8 minutes or so about your project. Then plan to have a conversation with your attendees and encourage them to ask questions. You will repeat this three times during the hour. Bring or pour some water for yourself. Be prepared to speak loudly and clearly if you want to be heard.
Prepare good, concise answers to these questions. These can also be a guide for your handout.
- What is your project? That is, what problem or issue are you addressing?
- Why is it important or relevant?
- What did you discover?
- What does your discovery mean, and for whom, and in what context?
- What happens (or should happen) next?
If your project involves something that is visually interesting, you could try to show something on your laptop, but that is difficult to show effectively at a round table. Audio is likely to be ineffective. If your project includes some interesting visual(s), or crucial table or graph, make a large version of it to show and distribute to attendees. You could even create a small (say 18" by 18") poster to display on your table. Youâ€™ll need to bring all â€œpropsâ€ with you, as all you get from AECT is a table and chairs.
Prepare a one page handout that is a summary of your project, with your contact information, to distribute to attendees. On that handout you should include any relevant links, including a link to the full paper that you have submitted to the AECT proceedings (more about that later). I suggest bringing about 25 copies of the one page summary. Create a short URL for the link to the summary, so you can write it on a business card if needed. Consider bringing a few copies of the full proceedings paper to distribute as well.
Some attendees will want more information, or may not be able to attend your full presentation. So be prepared with plenty of your business cards and your one-page summary with links so that an attendee can easily find you and your project online. If you have a spare moment, review the other roundtable session descriptions, and meet some of your fellow presenters. There are likely potential collaborators and future colleagues in the room that you will benefit from knowing, and vice versa.