How to Prepare for the Regional Leadership Conference

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How to Prepare for the Regional Leadership Conference

by Apoorva Dayananda, State Secretary/Treasurer

We have all been there, waiting anxiously outside the test room for your chance to go in; your palms start to become wet with sweat as your leg shakes with nervousness. Finally, your number gets called and you proceed into your room, ready to start your test or presentation. The Regional Leadership Conference is the first step on your way to Nationals. There, you will showcase everything you have prepared for your competition in the past couple of months, ranging from tests to presentations. However, before the Regional Leadership Conferences begin, there are steps you will need to take.

You’ve already picked your events and presubmitted your competitions (if necessary). Now that that all has been handled, here are some actions that you will want to take to give you the edge over your opponents. First, read and reread your event guidelines. You do not want to come to the Regional Leadership Conference lacking an essential part of your competition.  Your event guidelines can provide insight to what your competition entails and what factors it is judged upon. Also, your guidelines will inform you of what you need to provide and what will be provided to you on the competition day. For example, a projector will not be provided for presentation events so you will need to bring your own.  

Second, make sure everything you are submitting is correct according to the Style and Reference Manual. If you do not follow this manual, many points may be taken off of your score. The Style and Reference Manual can be found on either the National BPA or the Michigan BPA website. Like the event guidelines, you will want to reference this manual many times so that you are not making common errors.

Third, use as many resources as possible. While preparing for your competitions, use as many different websites, books, or people as possible. Your BPA advisors are a valuable resource that you can use. The more information on your topic, the more effective your presentation will be or the more prepared you will be for the judge’s questions. Also, the more information you have, the more you will be able to study for the testing events.

Finally, practice, practice, practice! Like the common phrase says, “practice makes perfect.” While you are presenting in front of the judges, you do not want to be stumbling over words. So, in order to avoid this, practice your presentation multiple times to make it as smooth and easy to follow as possible. Additionally, through practicing, you might be able to memorize specific parts of the presentation. Memorization can make an already great presentation even more effective to the judges. Also, do not hesitate to ask your teacher, parents, or friends to present in front of them. While this may seem daunting, practicing in front of others can provide you with preparation for the real thing and the audience can offer you constructive criticism on how to make your presentation better and more effective. On the other hand, take as many practice tests as you can. This can help you figure out the wording of test questions that Business Professionals of America uses as well as enforce the material that you have already studied.

On the day of the Regional Leadership Conference, ensure that you have a check list to keep all the equipment and materials needed for you competition organized. If you are planning to give the judges any paper, bring extra for emergencies. Additionally, make sure to bring your entry forms as you will not be able to compete in your event without it. Furthermore, review the dress code because violations will result in the reduction of points. These tips can give you the extra boost of confidence needed to get you to the State Leadership Conference.

Maurice S. Henderson