A Presenter's Journey Through the Conference Process

Presenting at a scientific conference is a key step of early-stage research. It’s also a milestone for many scientists and researchers, whether you’re a seasoned expert or just starting out in your career. 

Presentations are important interactions for everyone involved. First and foremost, they’re a fundamental aspect of research dissemination and the advancement of scientific progress–a pivotal conversation starter within the environment of a scientific meeting. They also offer valuable exposure for the presenter and authors of the abstract, and important networking opportunities for all who attend. 

If you’ve never presented at a conference before, you might be wondering what to expect. In this blog post, we’ll break down everything that happens before, during, and after a conference, so you know what to expect and how to handle your session like a pro–even if it’s your first time presenting.


 A Presenter's Journey Through the Conference Process


ACAAI 2023

Step 1 - Abstract Submission

Submitting your abstract to a conference requires that you’ve participated in some research that is ready to be shared with the world outside of your lab or institution. When writing your abstract, be sure to align it with the conference’s theme so that the reviewers can see why your paper is a good fit. 

Like making a good poster, writing a good abstract takes time–so don’t leave it till the last minute! 


Step 2 - Acceptance and preparation

As you await your results from the abstract submission phase, do some more research about similar conferences and consider submitting your abstract elsewhere as well, to increase the chances of getting to share your research. 

Once you hopefully get the good news, it’s time to prepare for your talk. When your abstract is accepted, you will receive guidelines and information about what type of presentation you’ll be asked to present. The format could be a poster, an oral presentation, a lightning talk, or something else. 

When preparing your talk, be sure to pay close attention to the guidelines and important deadlines, like the poster submission deadline and formatting instructions. 

If you’re attending an in person meeting, it’s also time to register for the conference online and make any necessary travel and accommodation arrangements. Your department may have a travel fund for situations like these, so make sure to ask to see if your institution can cover any expenses related to the conference. 


Step 3 - Conference Arrival

The next step is to go to the conference! 

When you arrive, it’s important you check in at the conference to confirm you’re in the right place and are all set to attend, and get your entry badge which will provide access to the poster and exhibition halls. 

Even before the conference begins, it’s never a bad idea to do some pre-conference networking at the venue or even the hotel where you’re staying. If you see someone else wearing an event badge, don’t be shy to introduce yourself and ask them a question or two. These little interactions can go a long way in making your conference experience more enjoyable and professionally fruitful. 

It’s also time to do any final preparation for your presentation. Have you practiced giving your talk and do you know exactly how long it will take? Do you have your speaker notes ready? It can never hurt to have an extra copy of your poster and speaker notes on a USB that you keep with you–having peace of mind will help you deliver the best presentation possible. 


Step 4 - Showcasing the Work (The Big Moment)

When it’s time to present, there are a few things you can do to ensure that your presentation is memorable and has an impact: 

  1. Speak slowly and clearly–and go easy on the jargon.
    Remember that you’re presenting to people who may be unfamiliar with your project or speak English as a second language. It’s better to communicate the general trajectory of your research and its importance than to get lost in the details. If someone wants to know more technical information, they’ll ask you. 
  2. Engage with other presenters.
    Before and after it’s your turn to present, be the kind of audience member that you’d like to have when it’s your turn. Make eye contact, show interest in other people’s research, and ask questions. This makes it much more likely for people to return the favor when it’s your turn. 
  3. When handling tricky questions, be honest and to the point.
    If you don’t know the answer, it’s okay to say “That’s a great question, I’m not sure” and refer the person to someone who might know, or point to future research that could be undertaken. 
  4. Take feedback impersonally.
    If someone offers a comment about your research, thank them for sharing and, if it resonates, make a note to yourself on what to change next time. Being receptive to feedback shows that you’re dedicated to improving, even if you don’t agree with what’s been said. 
  5. Network, network, network!
    There is no better place to meet people and make career connections than the floor of a conference hall. You’re in a room full of people at various levels within your field of research, all involved in the latest advancements. As much as you can, find it within yourself to be gregarious and make the most of it. Add people on LinkedIn, make small talk, share your email with people you’d like to collaborate with–whatever suits you. 


Step 5 - After the Conference

When the conference has finished, take stock of what went well and what could be improved. Evaluate any feedback you got on your presentation and decide what you will do differently at future conferences. 

Now is also the time to reach out to people you connected with at the conference. Send that “Hello” email, thank people for connecting, and be genuine in your follow up. Bonus points if you can reference topics or ideas that were discussed on site!

It’s never too early to begin planning for next year’s conference. Even if you don’t have any new research to present, consider attending again so you can continue building your professional network and stay up to date with the latest research. 



Presenting at a conference is a memorable part of your career journey as a researcher. It offers many learning moments and opportunities for personal and career development. If you haven’t presented at a conference yet, consider submitting an abstract to a conference this year so you can experience it for yourself.