How to give effective research presentations

presentations research

1. Cater to your audience

Engaging your audience is vital to maintaining their attention and fostering active participation. Your title slide should be used as an opportunity for you to introduce yourself and connect with your audience. Do not simply read the title! Try to scan the room and make eye contact with people and smile - it will make your audience feel more relaxed. Furthermore, background slides are arguably the most important part of your presentation, as they put your research in the context of the larger scientific conversation. It’s essential to think critically about the level of knowledge of your audience and prepare enough background slides accordingly. Much of your audience is there primarily because they want to be educated in your field and get excited about research - even if they are at a higher level in their career than you. Background material should be pedagogical but research-oriented. Make sure you highlight the major gaps in the literature that motivate your research.

2. Present your research as a story and focus on broader impacts

 

Humans are wired to connect with stories, so incorporate narrative elements into your presentation. Frame your research in a relatable context and explain why it matters. Develop a storyline that progresses logically, highlighting the problem, your methodology, and the significance of your findings. Your research slides should be accessible to the lowest common denominator of your audience. Think of the high-level take-home messages and be sure to make that message clear in your slides, even if it involves some repetition. Each of the slide titles in the results section of your slides should have your take-home message written on it (don’t simply name the title of your slide “results”). And be careful: although it is tempting after you’ve spent many months or years working on your project, do not show all of the gory details of your work and do not be overly technical in your language. Focus more about the broader message of your work and how it fills the gaps in current knowledge.

3. Cope with presentation anxiety by being prepared

 

Do not include anything on your slides that you can’t explain in greater detail. Think about the kinds of questions people will ask and be prepared. If talking in front of a large audience makes you as anxious, try to memorize at least the first few minutes of your slides to get over your initial nervousness. Arrive for your presentation early and try to test your set-up beforehand to avoid equipment malfunctions. If technical difficulties do occur, try to take a deep breath -all members of your audience have been there at some point and they know it’s not your fault! Finally, it is absolutely critical to practice your presentation multiple times beforehand. If you can practice in front of a group of people, this is even better because it incorporates an element of stage fright.

Nadia majored in Environmental Science at UCLA, where she graduated magna cum laude and was awarded the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Hollings scholarship. She is now a PhD candidate at Harvard in the Department of Earth and Planetary Science.

Comments

topicTopics
academics study skills MCAT medical school admissions SAT college admissions expository writing English strategy MD/PhD admissions writing LSAT GMAT physics GRE chemistry biology math graduate admissions academic advice law school admissions ACT interview prep test anxiety language learning career advice premed MBA admissions personal statements homework help AP exams creative writing MD test prep study schedules computer science Common Application mathematics summer activities history philosophy secondary applications organic chemistry economics supplements research grammar 1L PSAT admissions coaching law psychology statistics & probability dental admissions legal studies ESL CARS PhD admissions SSAT covid-19 logic games reading comprehension calculus engineering USMLE mentorship Spanish parents Latin biochemistry case coaching verbal reasoning AMCAS DAT English literature STEM admissions advice excel medical school political science skills French Linguistics MBA coursework Tutoring Approaches academic integrity astrophysics chinese gap year genetics letters of recommendation mechanical engineering Anki DO Social Advocacy algebra art history artificial intelligence business careers cell biology classics data science dental school diversity statement geometry kinematics linear algebra mental health presentations quantitative reasoning study abroad tech industry technical interviews time management work and activities 2L DMD IB exams ISEE MD/PhD programs Sentence Correction adjusting to college algorithms amino acids analysis essay athletics business skills cold emails finance first generation student functions graphing information sessions international students internships logic networking poetry proofs resume revising science social sciences software engineering trigonometry units writer's block 3L AAMC Academic Interest EMT FlexMed Fourier Series Greek Health Professional Shortage Area Italian JD/MBA admissions Lagrange multipliers London MD vs PhD MMI Montessori National Health Service Corps Pythagorean Theorem Python Shakespeare Step 2 TMDSAS Taylor Series Truss Analysis Zoom acids and bases active learning architecture argumentative writing art art and design schools art portfolios bacteriology bibliographies biomedicine brain teaser campus visits cantonese capacitors capital markets central limit theorem centrifugal force chemical engineering chess chromatography class participation climate change clinical experience community service constitutional law consulting cover letters curriculum dementia demonstrated interest dimensional analysis distance learning econometrics electric engineering electricity and magnetism escape velocity evolution executive function fellowships freewriting genomics harmonics health policy history of medicine history of science hybrid vehicles hydrophobic effect ideal gas law immunology induction infinite institutional actions integrated reasoning intermolecular forces intern investing investment banking lab reports letter of continued interest linear maps mandarin chinese matrices mba medical physics meiosis microeconomics mitosis mnemonics music music theory nervous system