Now it’s time to discuss the actual day of the panel!
- Make a checklist. Before you pack for the con, make a check list of stuff to bring. Any tech stuff, handouts, etc. Day-of, make another checklist (or use the same one twice) of the same stuff to make sure you don’t run down to the convention center from your 10th floor hotel room without the power cable for your laptop.
- Arrive early! If you have to check in with con-ops, get there early. Also, get to your panel room at least ten minutes before your panel starts. It’s awkward for your audience to have to watch you set up your stuff during actual panel time, especially if you’re up there alone. You never know if something will go wrong, so it’s good to budget extra time just in case something happens.
- Keep calm! It’s normal to be a bit nervous before speaking in front of people, but do your best to stay calm. I find it helps to have some friends to hang out with before hand, talking and joking with people makes me feel more at ease.
- Take care of yourself. Have something to drink with you for before and during the panel. Depending on the length of your panel and what you’re doing, you’re going to be doing a lot of talking! If your panel is early in the morning or somewhere around a meal, try and eat something before hand. Even something small like a handful of trail mix or a granola bar will make a big difference.
- Make plans with people who are helping. I guess this would be before the day-of, but make sure to talk to whoever is helping you about meeting up early to give them information or whatever you need to do. If you can, get their phone numbers ahead of time just in case you need them.
- Speak slowly. Don’t talk too fast, otherwise people can’t keep up. Make sure that people can hear you as well, a quick microphone check at the very beginning of the panel should help.
- Timing. Typically you’ll want to end your panel 10 minutes or so before the next one starts, just out of courtesy for the panel presenter who goes after you. If you’re using a computer you can always check the time on that, but if not make sure to have a watch or your phone handy. As a small side note-make sure to turn the volume on your phone off.
- Dealing with people who interrupt. Every year I have at least one of these, they’re pretty common at panels, and they make things pretty awkward. Try to tell them gently that there will be a time for questions and comments at the end of the panel.
- Taking questions and comments. Try to be polite, even if the question is ridiculous. Don’t lie either though, if someone asks if polyester satin is okay to use, tell them that it’s not the best idea. Think before you speak, saying the wrong thing in a panel can be embarrassing, especially when you’re supposed to be an expert!
- Bring paper. Sometimes when you’re answering questions, you’ll need to write down names or shop websites or local groups, so it’s a good idea to have something to write on and a pen just in case. A good alternative is also to have a little handout. It’s a great idea if you’re doing something like a 101 panel or a budget panel, but be sure to print out more than you think you’ll need just in case!
- Have fun! It sounds really silly, but it’s easy to get caught up in stress and not enjoy the experience, especially if you’re not a big fan of public speaking. So take a few deep breaths, relax, and smile. Talking about something you love, helping to spread knowledge, and hanging out with fellow lolitas are all awesome things to be doing :D