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Student Affairs

Caryn M. Berg

Happy New Year! The Student Affairs Committee will be gearing up for the annual meeting soon, and we need your help! To better serve the needs of the student members of the Society for American Archaeology, we need to know what will help you most. We are hoping that the campus representative can assist us in this task, and we are still looking for graduate and undergraduate students to serve in this position. A complete description of the requirements and responsibilities of the campus representative is available in the September SAA Bulletin. If you would like more information, please contact Caryn M. Berg, Chair, Student Affairs Committee, Department of Anthropology, Campus Box 233, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309, email

Looking for Roomies?

Are you going to the 62nd Annual Meeting? Wondering how to make a hotel room a little more affordable? We want to help you find someone to share a room with! Just email your name, email address, phone number, and the days you will attend the meeting to A list will be compiled and sent out to you by February 28th. Although you will be responsible for making your own roommate contacts and arrangements, we hope that the list will make your life a little easier.

Caryn M. Berg is chair of the Student Affairs Committee and is at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Presenting!--What an Experience

Eden A. Welker

Eventually, every archaeologist has an opportunity to present their research, whether it is at a conference of fellow professionals, an invited lecture, or in a public forum. Learning how to prepare and clearly present information is a necessary and valuable skill. With practice comes experience, and by asking those who have attended many a function, you can gain a lot of useful advice! Below are some tips for making any presentation a success.

Preparing Your Paper

Visual Hints

Readable and simple slides enhance any presentation. There are many presentation software packages available which allow you to create text graphic slides on a computer monitor. Once you design your slides, most software programs will allow you to create a computer file that a local graphics service bureau can use to create your slide. If this option is not available to you, a 35-mm camera, some slide film, a tripod, and a darkened computer room can yield decent slides. A good starting point to determine shutter speed and aperture is to turn your entire computer screen background into a plain 50% grayscale image (in Windows 3.1, use the desktop icon in the control panel). Once the background is set, take a light-meter reading and adjust aperture and shutter speed accordingly. You can also try setting your camera aperture to 5.6 and your shutter speed to one-eighth second for 100 ASA film. Monitors do vary, and this information only provides good starting points. Try to find an experienced photographer in your department to help if you choose this option for producing slides. In any case, do not wait until the last minute to produce your slides in case something does go wrong!


As with any public speaking, speak slowly enough to be understood and loudly enough to be heard. There are many presentation styles, and you need to find and perfect yours. You can read a paper but make sure to address your audience, make eye contact, and maintain natural pauses and inflections. Other presenters work from notes or slides or any combination of the above. Practicing your talk will always make for a smoother and more refined presentation. Nothing beats getting constructive criticism beforehand from your friends and colleagues.

  • Speak into the microphone.
  • Make sure you are "talking" when you present your paper. If you need something in writing to get you through the talk, use an outline or paragraphs written for an informal verbal style.
  • Have good eye contact, inflection, and enthusiasm--both your personality and your research should come across!

    At the Conference

    Do not forget that most conferences provide laser pointers, microphones, water, slide and overhead projectors, and timers. In fact, working as a volunteer at the SAA annual meeting, can give you experience working with the equipment for other presenters before you present your own paper. It may ease your fear if you understand how everything works and you get to watch other presenters before you go on! (There are other perks to volunteering, too. Call or email Rick Peterson at SAA headquarters for information on volunteering.)

    For further information on presenting papers, read Karen Olsen Bruhn's 1984 article, Giving Papers, in American Antiquity 49:151-161.

    Special thanks to the anthropology faculty at the University of Colorado at Boulder who shared their ideas about what goes into a good presentation!

    Eden A. Welker is the vice-chair of the Student Affairs Committee and is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

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