Preparing an Effective Research Presentation
Organizing the Presentation
Presenting Research in Oral Sessions
The organization of a research presentation is very similar to the organization of a research paper.
Oral presentations begin with the introduction, which is designed to catch the audience's attention and provide the rationale for the study. The introduction should end with a clearly stated purpose of the study or brief list of specific aims, which should appear in text on a slide or at the end of the introduction section of the poster.
- Method or Procedure:
The methods or procedures for the study should next be summarized, providing sufficient detail that the audience will understand what was done. Diagrams or figures are useful to accompany brief explanations in text.
The results of the study should be explained next. If the results are numerous, you may have to choose only the most interesting or important results to present due to the limited time allocated for research presentations. Well-labeled figures or graphs enable the audience to grasp the essence of the findings more easily than tables or text.
Next is the discussion section, in which you will highlight how your results compare to those of similar studies and explain the importance of your findings. Sometimes it is expeditious to combine the results and discussion, so that as you display a slide showing a graph of one of the results you first explain it and then discuss it.
Lastly, one or a few conclusions drawn directly from the results of the study should be succinctly stated on a "Conclusions" slide. It is not necessary to provide a summary at the end and nor are you likely to have time for that. It is customary to acknowledge funding sources and non-authors who contributed in some way to the study at the very end on an "Acknowledgements" slide.
Presenting Research in Poster Sessions
The organization of a poster presentation is the same as for an oral presentation, except that sometimes an abstract is included at the beginning. Posters normally include more text than is practical to use in a slide presentation, but graphs and figures should still be liberally incorporated to promote understanding of the study, as well as to add interest.
Use the best quality presentation materials available to you. Small font on 8 ½ x 11 sheets of paper will not likely convey professionalism or draw interest from the session participants.
TIP: The Importance of a Good Title
Considerable care should go into the selection of the title for your research presentation. A good title accurately conveys the essence of the study and should appear interesting to your potential audience. Do not select a title that is so long that it is cumbersome or so short that it leaves out important information.
Consider the Goldilocks perspective here:
- "The effects of 48 hours of sleep deprivation on tests of simple and choice reaction time, visual acuity, exercise capacity, and throwing accuracy among college students" is too long and
- "The effects of sleep deprivation" is too short.
- "The effects of sleep deprivation on motor skill performance" is about right.