Preparing an effective oral presentation for scholarly meetings or conferences can be a challenging process. However, by doing so, you will gain crucial experience through the process of planning your presentation and communicating your findings. This experience will serve as a foundation for future scholarly presentations. As soon as your abstract or conference proposal is accepted, seek out information about presentation time requirements, format rules, and competition/judging for your venue, as different conferences may have different requirements. Take advantage of the information below to help guide you in the process of preparing for your presentation.
One size does not fit all! Consider your audience and purpose. Understand who you will be addressing—experts in your field will have a higher level of understanding than a general audience. You may be able to use technical language if your audience is well-versed in your topic. If you have a general audience, minimize technical language. Either way, be careful to not overuse technical jargon and acronyms. Your goal is to inform your audience, not to overwhelm.
As you prepare your talk, begin by creating a thesis statement and an outline. Then think about how you can make effective transitions between sections. Effective transitions help to link the points while enabling your audience to better follow your presentation. Reduced to its simplest structure, your talk must have a beginning, middle, and end. You will at least:
Your presentation is an opportunity for you to summarize your attempts to solve a problem or to answer a research question. You are not obligated to share everything that you have learned about your topic; instead focus on addressing just a few major points throughout your presentation. Remember, when determining how much content to deliver, it is better to inform instead of overwhelm your audience.
Consider what you want your visual aids to achieve and then choose which type of visual aid to use. Presentation software, such as PowerPoint™ or Prezi™ can help convey key information. However, it is important to use these tools effectively. Only produce slides that are necessary to improve your communication with the audience. In designing your slides keep in mind the following suggestions:
As you plan the end of your talk, carefully select one or two concluding sentences that embody the importance of your research.
Practice giving your presentation by yourself and to others and time yourself to make sure you can stay within the presentation limits. If you go over your time, you may be forced to skip vital parts of your talk, such as your conclusions or summary of your main findings. Worse, you may convey a sense that you are unprepared for your talk!
Last Updated: July 17, 2014