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Announcing the “D&D Showcase” at NCDD 2014

We’re excited to announce that we’ll once again be holding our popular “D&D Showcase” at this year’s National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation. The Showcase is a high-energy networking activity that provides a way for about 25 people in our field to introduce their work and their ideas to the majority of conference participants. The Showcase takes place during the reception on the first night of the conference (Friday, October 17th, from 4:30 to 6:00 pm).

It’s a fun way for conference-goers to meet some of the movers-and-shakers in our field, and hear about some of their latest projects, programs and tools.

Update:  See the current list of Showcase presenters for NCDD 2014 here.

Here is a slideshow of images from our Showcase at NCDD 2012 in Seattle…

Here’s how the Showcase will work…

During this 90-minute session, conference participants will stroll around the ballroom, chatting with presenters, listening to their brief spiels, checking out their posters and picking up handouts. We’ll also have finger foods and beverages available (and a cash bar), adding to the social atmosphere of the session.

The conference planning team is selecting people to present during the D&D Showcase who are passionate about sharing tools and programs we know will interest our attendees. Contact conference manager Courtney Breese at courtney@ncdd.org if you are interested in being featured in the Showcase — but please note these slots are very competitive!

The presenters, who will be prepared to give short spiels on their Showcase topic, will strike up conversations with participants who are strolling around the room, perusing the “wares.” No timers or buzzers are involved.

Here’s a great video of Kai Degner (former mayor of Harrisonburg, VA) giving his “spiel” at the well-received Showcase event at NCDD 2008 in Austin…

Also see Janette Hartz-Karp and Brian Sullivan presenting at the 2008 Showcase event (we called it the “D&D Marketplace”) here, and check out the video of Noam Shore, Lucas Cioffi, and Wayne Burke presenting their online tools here.

Presenters are asked to display simple “posters” during the Showcase (more on this below), and to provide handouts and business cards for participants who are interested in learning more or following up. Showcase presenters should be ready to succinctly express what’s important for conference participants to know about their resource, method, research, program, etc. and to elaborate and answer any questions people may have.

The Showcase will take place in a different ballroom than the one our plenary sessions are held in. Showcase presenters will be stationed at high-ball tables (tall cocktail tables) that will be set up in a large U-shape for optimal flow. Reception food will be presented in the center of the room. Presenters will use their tables to display their posters as well as handouts, any giveaway items, and laptops if they have something to share online or on their computers.

What we ask of Showcase presenters…

  • Prepare a quick spiel or “elevator speech” about your Showcase topic that will get people interested in learning more. Practice it until it comes out naturally. We suggest you prepare several spiels of different lengths (30 seconds, 1 minute, etc.) so you can adjust quickly to different circumstances during the Showcase.
  • Prepare a simple, visually interesting poster and bring it with you to the conference (details and options below).
  • Bring handouts about your program, method, online tool, publication, etc. that include further details. Include your contact information and web address on your handouts, or provide a stack of your business cards.
  • Show up for the Showcase session about 20 minutes early (by 4:10pm) so we have time to make sure everyone is set up and has everything they need by 4:30.

More about the Posters…

D&D Showcase presenters are asked to prepare simple posters to help people visualize the program, tool, concept, or project they’re presenting. Watch the video above to get a sense of what has been created for past Showcase events. Note that we would prefer Showcase presenters to pare down and simplify their posters this year if possible, as participants don’t do much reading during the Showcase!

You can purchase a bi-fold foam board like this one at Amazon ($13), which is 15″ by 20″ closed, and 30″ by 20″ open. This fits in most suitcases, and you can always cut off an inch or so from the ends if you’re just bringing a carry-on and it’s snug.

If you’re local or willing to ship the board, you may want to purchase a larger tri-fold foam display board like this one at Staples ($15).

Prepare your poster in advance of the conference on the display board. If you choose a board that’s too large for your suitcase, you can ship it to yourself at the hotel so it arrives no later than October 16th.

Your poster content may consist of one large sheet of paper, or you can tack up multiple sheets of smaller paper, photos, diagrams, and cut-outs. The text on your poster should be kept simple, with very large type and very short phrases. Your poster should NOT consist mainly of pasted-up pages of small type! The main purpose of your poster is to let people know at a glance what your Showcase topic is. People should be able to quickly discern your message and determine whether they need to learn more or move on.

If you want, the poster can be a visual map that helps you walk through the story of your tool, concept or program. But still, try to keep it visually simple.

All D&D Showcase presenters are conference attendees, so must register for the conference.

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Sandy Heierbacher
Sandy Heierbacher is the Founding Director of the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD). Sandy has an M.A. in International Management from SIT Graduate Institute, and also serves as a Research Deputy for the Kettering Foundation. Click here for a list of articles and resources authored by Sandy.

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