- Programs & Events
- Researchers' Toolkit
- News & Networking
Hence, it is well worthwhile to learn the key elements of preparing and delivering an effective presentation of research. You will most likely deliver many presentations during your professional career and it will be valuable for you to develop a reputation for delivering "good" presentations. The materials included in this section of the Researchers' Toolkit are designed to help you do just that.
The "meat" of a research presentation is the research study being presented. A study that you present to others should be worthy of the presentation time that you will be using. The study should be one that was well-planned and carefully conducted and the results should be of some interest. Most conference audiences do not appreciate hearing about a study in which there were too few participants for the results to have been significant. Similarly, the presentation of results that merely replicate or confirm previously published similar results by you or others are likely to be of little interest. Choose your best work to present at a professional conference so that the audience of your extended professional colleagues can develop an appreciation of your capabilities.
Know your audience…
The goal of most presentations is to communicate with an audience. Effective communication requires knowledge of the audience's background as related to your presentation topic so that you can match the level and tone of your presentation to your audience's level of understanding. At a professional conference you can have reasonable confidence that those who choose to attend your presentation will have the training and interest to know the technical or specialized vocabulary surrounding your topic, as well as an understanding of your research design and statistical analyses. However, this will probably not be the case if you are invited to present to a lay audience, such as a local civic organization or a group of prospective students and their families at a university student recruitment event. In such cases it is crucial that you adapt your choice of words and explanations accordingly.
Stay within the time limits…
It is also critically important to know the exact time limit or expectation for an oral presentation. Professional conference presentation format typically allows 10-15 minutes for oral presentations of research studies. This is a relatively short time in which to present the rationale, procedures, and results of a study, as well as to explain what the results mean and why they may be important. Consequently, it is important that you plan and prepare carefully in order to optimally convey an understanding of your study to the audience. At conferences where there are numerous presentations and session presiders must adhere to a strict timeline, you are likely to be cut off if you speak more than a minute beyond your allotted presentation time. It is important to prepare a presentation that largely fills, but does not exceed the designated time for your presentation and to practice the presentation multiple times to make certain that this is the case.
Carefully consider the display area…
Similarly, when preparing a poster presentation, it is important to know the size of the display area that you are allotted. A poster should largely fill the display area, with the pitfalls of a poster that is obviously too large or too small being obvious.
This tutorial was developed to provide helpful tips for preparing and delivering both oral and poster presentations of research. Following the advice provided here should result in a research presentation that is well received by the audience, that results in a good experience for you and of which you, the presenter, can be proud.
Select a prepared research presentation in your interest area, and go through the accompanying checklists (found in the Preparing and Delivering the Presentation section above) for either an oral or a poster presentation. If using your own presentation materials, (a) use the appropriate checklist(s) and make revisions before practicing your presentation, and (b) ask one or more colleagues to use the checklist(s) and provide you feedback on a practice run of your presentation.