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        <Skip Navigation LinksHome > Membership > BPA Alumni > Alumni Blog


        Looking for fresh, unedited perspectives from your fellow alumni? You've come to the right place. These blogs are written by members of the BPA Alumni Division in an effort to share their experience, advice and insights with you on varying topics of interest. Whether you're curious about the best ways to network, update your LinkedIn profile or just want to know some basic Dos and Don'ts, BPA Alumni from across the country are here to share their perspective. 


        by David Woodside, former BPA State & National Officer | Delaware Alumni Member

        As our organization prepares itself for the 51st National Leadership Conference in Orlando, Florida, many months of preparation and work are coming together to ensure an incredible experience for all attending members, advisors, and volunteers. However, in State Associations across the nation, students who have performed well in their state competitions are preparing in a different way - fine-tuning their projects and presentations in the hopes of hoisting a plaque at this year’s grand awards ceremony. Preparing for presentation-based competitive events can be difficult because there is little room for error, but, with proper practice and by following these few tips, any team can look like polished professionals.

        1. Keep eye contact focused and hand gestures conservative: Research suggests that over 50% of communication is done through body language and during a presentation most of this body language will come in the form of eye contact and hand gestures. You should aim to maintain eye contact with each of the judges for about equal amounts of time and should not stare at any judge for longer than 30 seconds. If you begin to feel uncomfortable, feel free to break eye contact and look at the materials you are presenting momentarily to recompose yourself. Hand gestures should never go higher or wider than your shoulders or lower than your hips. Within this hand gesture box, make sure to use small, quick gestures that emphasis a point. After finishing a gesture, place your hands back in a resting position at your sides or held in front of you.
        1. Have a visual aide: As exciting and well-practiced as your presentation is, judges may start to lose focus after listening to many presentations in a row. It is important to have a visual aide like a powerpoint or poster board to reference. This aide should be engaging and visually pleasing while remaining professional. Aides should include appropriate pictures and no more than five bullets per slide. Avoid using distracting transitions between slides. When choosing a powerpoint theme avoid using a background with too much white space as this can distract from the content.
        1. Practice, Practice, Practice!: Nothing can derail a presentation like forgetting what to say or making a major mistake. Unfortunately, this is always a possibility and we never know exactly how we are going to respond to a high-pressure situation. The only way to minimize the chances of a major mistake is to make sure that you have practiced your presentation until you know it perfectly. Try not to memorize the entire speech, but rather, the main points that you want to cover. It is much easier to remember ten ideas than an entire presentation. Practice in a mirror to check your body language, practice to your advisor, friends, and family to receive feedback, and practice until you can recite the speech five times in a row without mistakes.

        Overall, the keys to success at the NLC are in the preparation. Take the advice you received from your judges at state competitions, improve your project and presentation, and ask for more constructive criticism from as many people as you can. But most of all, have fun! The NLC is a fantastic opportunity to explore a new city, learn new skills, and meet exciting new people. Competitive events are exciting and hopefully these tips help your skills, but whether you win or lose this May, make sure you have a good time doing it!



        Read past BPA Alumni Blog Posts in the Alumni Blog Archive

        Are you interested in learning about a specific topic / subject area that hasn't been covered yet? Simply contact us and we'll pull the knowledge and experience from our Alumni Division to help you out.

        BPA Alumni members interested in sharing your experience with today's students, are invited to contribute to the BPA Alumni Division Blog. For more information or to send in your submission, please contact Paige Loew at ploew@bpa.org



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