Presentations

Teachmeet are generally between 2hours – 3hours long. It might be a bit difficult to get enough presenters initially but having a buffer of some extra time is not a negative especially if you are running your first Teachmeet. You might think that you have loads of time but it is very easy to lose time due to various items e.g trying to get presentations to open etc. If you finish early, this can be used for more networking. Depending on venue and other events, starts time can range from after school to 7pm start for 9:30 finish. Any time after that should be used for social networking.

Depending if the Teachmeet is a pre event for a conference or a longer event where people are staying over, it might be worth doing an ice breaker. However if you expect the caretaker to be at the back of the room swinging his keys at 9pm on the dot, it might be better to forgo the icebreaker and get straight into it.

The model Teachmeet has a series of presentations- Mini 5 or 7 min, Nano 2 min or Soapbox 15min.

Try to have a good mixture of both as it helps creates atmosphere at the event.
Mini presentations – They are generally either 5 or 7 minutes. There are merits to both time scale. This is one of the decisions that you will have to make.
Nano presentations 2 minutes. These are very popular and are usually focus on a website, an idea or a heads up for a new idea. Be ruthless with the 2 minutes. Word of caution, be wary if someone is planning to talk about multiple items in that 2 min slot.
Soap box - 15 minutes. Ideally it should be a two way conversation led by the speaker but in essence it has become a 15 minute speaking slot. It shouldn't be a computer presentation, but again has become so on occasion. This is the area where you need to head hunt the speakers most carefully, it is the most valuable for connecting people.

Mini and nano presenters in particular, should be encouraged not to use powerpoints full of bullet points. Teachmeets presenters should be storytellers not trying to deliver a 7 min lecture. Using a new tool to present with can double the impact that you make. There have been some very creative ways of delivering presentations at Teachmeets.

The traditional way of selecting presenters is to use @russeltarr ‘s random name picker http://www.classtools.net/random-name-picker/ just remember to delete names as they are picked.

A good Teachmeet requires good timekeeping. You really do need to stop people once they go over time if you can find a fun way to do this all the better. It is a Teachmeet tradition to use a soft toy namely a camel thrown on the stage to signify you to get off now!

Give yourself two minutes changeover time per presenter when planning your timetable as they search for their presentation or mess with settings.
You should have presentations or links beforehand.

If you are running late, you have the choice of cutting people’s time down or dropping people off the list. Neither is going to leave presenters happy. It is difficult for someone who has spent time creating a tight 7 min presentation to cut two minutes of it at short notice. Most people would rather be dropped than do truncated presentation that comes across badly. At the end of the day the host (& presenter) makes the decision. You should put any dropped presenters first slots in any following Teachmeet. If you are lucky and have a few experienced Teachmeet presenters, they tend to know the score and are able to shave of 30 seconds or a minute easily so a quick word in their ear might be useful.

Another decision is whether to put a limit on the number of presenters at sign up or on the night, or leave it to the random name picker to select your presenters even though all of them might not get an opportunity to present. This is an important issue if the Teachmeet is a standalone event and not connected with another event. It can be very difficult for a presenter to travel a long distance to support a new Teachmeet and not get a chance to present. You don’t want to attendees to leave with a bad taste in their mouth. There is no easy solution but it needs to be thought out about during your planning phase.

Also another thing to take on board is the distance people have in travelling home afterwards especially in bad weather.

If you are short of presenters, don’t be afraid to have people Skype in a presentation or record it on Youtube. A neat trick to keep up your sleeve is have a presentation from a broadcasted Teachmeet that you like or is really innovative. Alternatively don’t be afraid to open the floor and ask people to present as some people have some cool stuff up their sleeves that they are shy about sharing.

CESI have ran Teachmeets that included presenters from primary, post primary and third level and this has given an opportunity for cross fertilisation of ideas between the different level. This cross fertilisation of ideas has been one of the reasons of the success of Teachmeets. You should always be looking for opportunities to bring in different educators outside of your target audience.

Always look to bring new presenters to Teachmeet stage.

What you don’t want

Are long PowerPoint slide after slide full of words and bullet points being read by the presenter. However some presenters make amazing use of PowerPoint so best not to have an outright ban and some presenters use powerpoint to show images with no text.
Neither do you want too many presentations with content remote from the classroom needs.

ABSOLUTELY NO COMMERCIAL SALES PITCH - NO HIJACKING. Companies are welcome to attend Teachmeets but it is not a platform for a sales pitch to teachers. Of all of the “rules” of Teachmeet, this is the one most strictly enforced.