Thank you for your interest in helping educate the COMMON community. Please see below for more information regarding the process of becoming a speaker at a COMMON event.

Please note: Speakers must be active COMMON members.

If you are new to speaking or are an existing speaker at COMMON events, learn more about our new Speaker Mentorship Program.

Questions? Contact Ian Cartwright at icartwright@common.org.

Watch this video to learn more about becoming a speaker at COMMON events.


As a speaker, COMMON recognizes that you put a lot of time and effort into researching and creating your presentation(s). As such, COMMON awards Speaker Credits based upon the specific guidelines.

COMMON / Speaker Understanding

  1. Speakers commit to present at COMMON through two conference e-mails that identify and confirm the name, title, abstract, and logistics of the sessions they have proposed when submitting a response to the Call for Presentations
  2. If a Speaker chooses to provide a handout for their session, they must go to the COMMON website to upload their handouts. They are asked to give permission to post a digital copy of the presentation handouts on the COMMON web site for downloading by conference attendees. (COMMON will use and distribute the intellectual property submitted by speakers only as specifically granted to COMMON)
  3. COMMON understands that by agreeing to speak at COMMON, the Speaker understands:
  • Content of the presentation must be accurate to the best of their knowledge
  • Presentation does not violate any copyright, proprietary rights, or personal rights of others
  • Necessary permissions to reproduce or use any materials for which they are not the author or copyright holder have been obtained
  • Abstract accurately reflecting the contents of each presentation has been provided
  • Complies with the principles of COMMON’s Code of Ethics
  • No compensation from COMMON for its use of the presentations is expected

Online Session Guide

COMMON uses its Online Session Guide to share event information with attendees. Speaker information is added when sessions are created in the system. Please take a few minutes to update your profile with your bio, photo and other information.

Speaker Awards

Medal Awards

Since 1994, COMMON has recognized its national conference speakers through the Speaker Excellence Program. Speakers whose sessions were exceptional in both content and delivery (communication, presentation, and use of training aids) receive a medal award and are inducted into the Speaker Excellence Hall of Fame. The awards are based on feedback from evaluation forms that attendees complete after each session. Beginning in 2008, the Gold, Silver and Bronze medals are determined according to a fixed criteria of historical averages.

Award winners are published in the Speaker Excellence Hall of Fame.

Speaker of Merit

Speakers can receive the distinction “Speaker of Merit” by achieving a rating of 4.0 or better on a 5.0 scale, as rated by the attendees. Attendees are encouraged to rate speakers as well as content of the sessions. Recipients receive a certificate.

Best New Session

Speakers can receive the distinction of presenting the “Best New Session” by achieving the highest score among new sessions at the conference. Scores are based on attendee feedback from the evaluation forms that attendees turn in after each session. Only sessions that have never been presented before at COMMON’s national conferences qualify. Recipient receives a plaque.

Best New Speaker

New speakers can receive the distinction “Best New Speaker” by achieving the highest score among new speakers at the conference. Scores are based on attendee feedback from the evaluation forms that attendees turn in after each session. New speakers are those who have never presented before at COMMON’s national conferences. Recipient receives a plaque.

Best Open Lab

Speakers can receive the distinction “Best OPEN LAB” by achieving the highest score among Open Labs at the conference. Scores are based on attendee feedback from the evaluation forms that attendees turn in after each session. One plaque is awarded with all presenters listed.

Speaker Excellence Hall of Fame

1997 (Spring) (Fall)

1998 (Spring) (Fall)

1999 (Spring) (Fall)

2000 (Spring) (Fall)

2001 (Spring) (Fall)

2002 (Spring) (Fall)

2003 (Spring) (Fall)

2004 (Spring) (Fall)

2005 (Spring) (Fall)

2006 (Spring) (Fall)

Session Content

All session content, including presentation slides and handouts, must comply with COMMON’s Code of Ethics, Conference Offerings Policy and Dissemination of Work and Education Material Policy.

Preparation tips:

  • Develop content around 2-3 learning objectives
  • Include enough content to fill allotted session time without going over
  • Reference the learning objectives in the abstract and handouts
  • Know the content so you can successfully answer questions
  • Begin your presentation by outlining the learning objectives
  • Practice so that you can identify any problems ahead of time

Presentation Slides

The success of your presentation depends on your visual presentation as much as your verbal presentation. The following are some suggestions for getting the most from your slides.

  • Keep it simple – layouts should be easy to understand and follow
  • Keep it large and legible – select font size with the back row in mind
  • Three level rule – the ideal visual has a maximum of three levels of information with each level containing only one or two bullets or graphics
  • Maintain a consistent format / appearance
  • Set screen resolution to 1024 x 768

For the 2019 Fall Conference, please use this PowerPoint Template.

Session Handouts

Handouts are no longer printed for distribution at COMMON conferences. Instead, they are added to the Online Session Guide for download. Please keep the following in mind when creating your handouts.

  • Save handouts in PDF format
  • Ensure content is legible
  • If program / source listings are included in your session material and it is your normal business practice to include copyright information with the listing, a copyright statement may be included on one or more pages of the material
  • If you place a disclaimer on your session material, you must include a letter granting COMMON permission to reproduce the material for distribution to event attendees (COMMON will use and distribute the intellectual property submitted by speakers only as specifically granted to COMMON)

Medal Icons

If you have won a Gold, Silver or Bronze medal and would like to add the icon to your presentation, download the images here. (Right click on an image and select “save image as.”)

Gold (Color) (B&W)

Silver (Color) (B&W)

Bronze (Color) (B&W)

Session Room

Audio / Visual and Room Setup

NOTE: COMMON’s Code of Ethics extends to Web page content, just as it does to general session handouts and visual aids. Thus, no discussion or representation of price is permitted on a website you display in your session without the express written approval of the Board of Directors.

Session rooms will have the following setup:

  • Lavaliere microphone
  • Data projection unit and screen (1024 x 768)
  • Wireless Internet access

Lab Rooms will have the following equipment:

  • Lavaliere microphone
  • Data projection unit and screen (1024 x 768)
  • 1 PC workstation presenter
  • Broadband connection to the Internet
  • 26 PC workstations


TLCs (Tactical Liaisons to Curriculum) are responsible for handling onsite issues related to the presentation of sessions, including A/V and room temperature. If you have an urgent need requiring immediate attention, contact a TLC, identified by the blue TLC vest.

Session Evaluations

Speakers should encourage their audience to complete the online session evaluation form. However, speakers should not attempt to coach the audience in evaluating the speaker/session. Speakers who violate this guideline will not be eligible for medals or awards.

Speaker Assistants

Speaker Assistants are volunteers who sign up to help in the session rooms, introducing you and performing other tasks. Not all sessions will have a Speaker Assistant as it depends on the number of volunteers available.


When presenting your session, keep the following in mind:

  • Use the microphone so that everyone can hear you
  • Let everyone take a seat before you begin
  • Maintain eye contact, avoid “reading” from your slides
  • Adhere to your topic, answering questions without getting off-track (announce your availability at the evening social events to continue or expand conversations)
  • Repeat attendees’ questions for the entire audience
  • End on time, reserving the final 5 to 10 minutes for Q&A
  • Be conscious of what you say, especially if you do not want it in print, as the press may attend all COMMON sessions


COMMON prefers to make all sessions at its conferences open to members of the press for reporting purposes. You can close a portion of your session (such as Q&A) by specifically stating as such.

Book Sales

If you have authored a book that corresponds to your session and would like to offer it for sale to attendees via the conference bookstore, please complete a Speaker Book Sales Form and return it to MC Press as noted on the form.

Guidelines for participation:

  • Speaker must be the primary author
  • Book must be related to the session you are giving at the current conference and must meet all conference guidelines as determined by MC Press
  • All sales arrangements and logistics are between the speaker and MC Press
  • Books and merchandise sold in the bookstore must be approved by COMMON
  • Conference price for any book may not exceed its retail price
  • Material sold in the COMMON Expo and merchandise sold at the bookstore must be identically priced
  • Selling your book during your session, including the distribution of promotional flyers for the book, is strictly prohibited (you may mention that the book is available for sale at the bookstore but may not mention its price)
  • Exhibitors presenting a session may distribute flyers for books via the Expo booth only

Shipping arrangements should be made directly with MC Press. Contact:

Anne Grubb

Book Acquisition Editor, MC Press Online, LLC

Phone: 208.629.7275, ext. 502

Email: agrubb@mcpressonline.com