Organize the subject of your talk around one central theme that holds all the other pieces together. If you tell a clear story and stay on track, the audience won’t be able to blame your research and presentation qualities, even if they disagree with you at some points. Relate the story of your work. It is your job to tell an interesting and informative story that will grab your listener’s attention and imagination. There should be also a sense of urgency in your talk that will rub off on those who are listening. People want to know what you had to go through to arrive at your conclusions and make the claims you are making.
To strongly convey your subject and get the audience more engaged, it might be helpful to include a personal statement explaining why you decided to get in this field of research, or a personal experience detailing some aspect of your research. Utilize the audience’s attention during this time to delve into the presentation. People like to know how your own perspectives changed and evolved as your research efforts progressed, as well as any successes and failures you had along the way. Any personal input in the style of your unique perspective is likely to be beneficial.
Depth of Knowledge
Your expertise and scholarly approach to your subject area will help edify your reputation in the scientific field. People will respect you if not only you carry detailed knowledge about your research, but if you can present it in a way that makes it seem particularly important and relevant to the moment. Ultimately, your goal is not to simply gain respect but to use it to both your and your audience’s advantage to inform and instruct. The following framework provides structure for how depth and content should be organized in your talk:
Data reveals the immutable outcome of experiments and laboratory trials. It can be extremely revealing on its own, or may require further interpretation and comparison, depending on what it is revealing.
Information requires description and interpretation of its relevance and significance. Information is never spat out from an experiment, but requires that the scientist examine the data and filter out what is not necessary to include.
Knowledge indicates the scientist’s accumulation of understanding about large quantities of information, which usually allows them to draw justifiable conclusions that are ultimately accepted as truth to society-at-large. Knowledge is not only truth itself, but the individual’s understanding and digestion of the truth.
Wisdom usually involves the appreciation and understanding of why such knowledge is important. With wisdom often comes the scientist’s ability to discern between truth and falsehood in scientific experiments and generally involves a great deal of experiences which include both multiple failures and successes. Discernment generally increases judgment ability, which increases the scientist’s effectiveness.
You should take into the account the DIKW hierarchy, and verify that your talk exemplifies the progression of these different building blocks. Let the data speak for itself, but quickly extract the information and explain to the audience why it is important and what they now know.
The title should be brief and to the point. It could be an alarming, even surprising, attention-grabbing statement such as "black holes are stable," but it doesn’t have to be.
The talk should include a clear beginning, middle, and end. It should unfold as your findings unfold chronologically and ultimately culminate in the conclusion that you want to communicate. Those who are listening will hopefully get as excited as you are while you present your findings and explain their relevance. It may even be helpful to phrase the central concern of the presentation as a question, and continue to acknowledge that question with each new answer that unfolds. [References] The story unfolds by following your efforts to answer that question, as well as related sub-questions that arose as you progressed in your work. Be sure to address why and to whom your question matters. Remember that for some audiences you may need to develop your talk as an argument, as there will often be many controversial aspects of your claims and contradicting evidence from other researchers.
The Effectiveness of the Story
It cannot be emphasized enough - a memorable presentation almost always includes some sort of story that the audience can relate to. Michael Alley explains in "The Craft of Scientific Presentations" as follows: "Such descriptions, when they support the presentation's content, are keepers, things the audiences hold onto when they leave the room." [References]
Credibility of Content and References
Keep in mind that the content of your talk will often be reviewed by scrutinizing individuals who are personally invested in the subject of your research. Included in this category of people are those who are looking to hire you or provide funding. In either case, you want to make sure that your sources are unmistakably credible and leave no room for questioning. Generally this won’t be an issue in the realm of original scientific research, but there will always be times when you are going to cite someone else’s work, in which case you must double check and make sure that you have gathered only the most recent and updated information.
What if there are multiple stories I want to tell?
In many cases, you will find that there is more than one theme or event happening at the same time in the story of your work. That’s fine. If this is the case, start with a "zoomed out" perspective and then "zoom in" quickly for each successive story you have to tell. Do not let your story unfold by presenting only generalities and then slowly unraveling the specifics. Neither find yourself so focused on the specific details that zooming out once again is impossible. Hopefully you will be able to establish a much bigger story whose significance is increased by the presence of the smaller sub-stories. In this way, there is a greater likelihood that there will be "something for everyone," rather than just a select group of people. [References]
Set up expectations for the audience by providing them with a verbal outline of your talk and how it will progress. It’s also necessary to do this so the audience can partition their listener energy accordingly, to be most alert during the parts of your talk that are the most demanding. If, due to time-constraints, you must cut back on the number of your slides, cut from the body of your talk in order to preserve the initial exposition of your ideas, and to spare the strength of your conclusion. In summary, remember that you audience is listening to your "labyrinth of knowledge" with its various shortcuts, alternative routes and interconnections for the first time. [References] Even if there are experts in the audience, most of them will need to be given sufficient background information about the progression of your findings that culminated in your meaningful conclusions. The process of research and scientific discovery is distinctly unique and your audience needs to time to develop familiarity.
Give them the tools they need
The logical progression of your ideas must follow a specific and clear framework. As Enno Middleberg of the Australia Telescope National Facility explains it, "...the audience should always have a picture of what you want to explain, i.e. make sure they always have your scientific motivation at the back of their heads". [References]
While drafting and editing your talk, keep your sentences as concise as possible and avoid using vague language. Your audience will want you to reach your conclusion as quickly as possible, but without muddling the logical details and milestones. Scan each of your words to see if they are really necessary; you don’t want your audience to be constantly reading your slides, so they are unable to listen to you at the same time. If you are going to "zoom in" and focus on one particular finding, do it within the body of talk. "Zoom out" during the beginning and end, to help give a context for the specific details and examples you have chosen. It is impossible for the audience to appreciate the beauty of the bigger picture you are alluding to, without a view of some of the details and complexity of the scientific findings.
Be able to explain the main message of your presentation in 2-3 sentences. This is particularly important for those in the scientific community who have not heard your talk. The structure for this should be: question, findings, answer. Rather than wasting a lot of time on introducing your audience to your topic and explaining your methodology, get to the findings and explain their relevance.
Keep in mind that your goal is not to cover every detail, but to uncover only the important concepts and key points. [References] You can base your choice about the level of detail you delve into upon dynamics of your audience, their professional identity and specialty, and overall level of education.
Remember to perceive your findings, and the process of reaching your findings, with a critical and perhaps skeptical eye. Understand the limitations of your experiments and their possible pitfalls. If there are conflicting ideas on your topic from outside sources, be sure to acknowledge them as well and explain why they further the claims of your research, rather than undermine them. Distinguish the ideas that are grounded in hard evidence from the ones that are only wishful thinking. A scientist who is aware of his or her own personal and professional shortcomings is better able to teach a fellow colleague or researcher about the complexity of the topic.
It may help to consider your critical perspective an integral component of your desire to persuade the audience of the validity and truth behind your findings. Failure to acknowledge flaws or imperfections in your research may cause the audience to think you are not completely telling the truth.
Conclusion and Take-Home Message
At the end of your talk, convey a clear and singular take-home message that is both concrete and memorable, rather than attempting to overload your audience with confusing information.
The take-home message of your presentation should consist of a single statement, stated with resonance and included in your very last words. After you make your conclusion, be silent. If you go over your time limit, people will have already lost focus and won’t be listening when you conclude. Also, to exceed your time limit means to come across as disrespectful. It’s better to stay on the safe side by ending early, leaving time for questions and answers. Your safety net for exceeding your allotted time should be one slide that sums up everything you have been talking about, and that is capable of delivering your most important statement. It should take only about one minute to explain to the audience and should encompass the most important piece of information you have to offer. Introduce it by saying something to the effect "If you continue with the details or data as I have been describing them, you finally arrive at this clear set of conclusions." [References] If you awkwardly end your presentation with "ok, well, that’s it" or "I guess we can stop here for now", your message will probably be quickly forgotten.
The Program and Resources Available to You
Depending on whether you have been invited to the conference and are one of many speakers on a similar topic, or whether you have submitted your own unique topic, you will have to decide how to tailor your presentation. Below are some important factors you may want to consider as you prepare your talk:
How it fits in with other presentations
How the information might overlap with other information already given
How the talk is positioned within the program
Presenters often fail to consider what other people have already said about the subject at hand. Repeating or overviewing old information is of no use to the audience. What you need to do is explain concepts in light of what people already know - you might even want to take advantage of the fact that people already understand something and can easily learn more about the topic at hand.
You may want to consider planning how your talk will mesh with other presentations, and thus form a continuous, logical flow of topics within the conference or scientific meeting. Remember to ask the event organizer for information about the program, which you should do well in advance of preparing your talk. If you are the first speaker of the meeting, you may have the responsibility of explaining the basic mechanisms of your scientific topic. Speakers at the end of scientific conferences typically discuss clinical application, further avenues of research and development, and other "hot", exciting topics.
There are two primary points you should keep in mind when making a presentation, both of which address very different, but important needs:
1. Know the needs of your audience. Understand how they can best learn. Usually this selection process will not be an issue for you if you have accepted to make a speech that is aligned with your audience's strengths. Thus, picking your audience, if you have a choice, is to your advantage!
2. Find out how to format your presentation and modify the interpretation of your results to accommodate for the the flow of the conference. Research as much as possible what your audience has already learned, and what they need to learn before the next speaker comes along.
Context, Context, Context.
Paul Farmer wrote in a recent NPR "This I Believe" Article (Dec. 2008) that he feels it is his responsibility to continue the spread of health care awareness in regions of the world where there is systemic neglect or inadequate resources to meet basic health care needs. I can imagine that for his various presentations in hospitals around Haiti, or other developing nations, there were audiences who possessed little knowledge about health care, or perhaps not enough awareness of how to effectively implement health care services. He probably had to go into great detail about the specific health care needs of the Haitian people, we well as the advantages of developing the health care system. I suspect that the techniques he used were basic and included many visuals and practical examples. In this context, had Farmer showed up to the planned presentation wearing a fully-tailored suit and explaining the bio-molecular mechanisms of diseases widespread in Haiti, the audience would have not been able to relate to him or his message.
To know the needs of your audience, you might need to conduct a survey or do some "market research" on how to best "sell" your ideas to people. Ultimately, your goal in speaking is not only educating and informing individuals about your ideas, but mobilizing and gathering a clan of faithful followers who are just as interested in your research or profession as you are. ("Public Speaking: Deep Penetration")
It’s always important to have information on the layout of the room before preparing to use any visual aids. The physical environment and atmosphere is more important than you think, especially if you are going to be giving a talk to a large audience and want to know where they will be sitting in the room. It might even help to do a quick dress rehearsal to prepare yourself for the mental, emotional, and even physiological demands of public speaking.
Depending on how many people you expect to attend your talk, you may need to adjust your presentation style in order to keep it consistent with educational and professional backgrounds of your audience. Something that is most certainly on your side is your knowledge of what kind of room you will be presenting in, which will determine if the talk should be more formal, or given in a seminar style. If it's the latter, it might help to include some topics for discussion that the audience might find useful. For more formal talks, the traditional style of PowerPoint may suffice, but whatever the case, the focus is once again on you, which means your slides should complement and augment, and not simply repeat, what you verbalize.
Audio-Visual Equipment and Technical Matters
You are responsible for finding out information about what audiovisual equipment is available on site. Some questions you should be asking about the details of the room are:
What microphones are you expected to use? There are two types of microphones used for public speaking: uni-focal, and omni-focal. Uni-focal microphones don’t allow you to turn your head, while omni-focal microphones do. Will that be an issue? Also, some microphones clip on, while others require a box transmitter, in which case you will need a pocket to hold it.
It's important to keep all these details in mind, as well as: where the lectern is located; if there is a technician who will operate the projector; do you have internet access from the podium?; as well as many other factors. You must learn the nuances of your speaking environment in order to avoid unnecessary complications and disasters. Also, if you are using CDs or flash drives to transport your presentation, arrive early to transfer your files. It might even help to have your presentation backed up electronically on a second CD or USB stick in case your original file does not function properly.
If you have video embedded in your Powerpoint, be sure to copy all related video files into the same folder with your Powerpoint. This will allow Powerpoint to properly track and open the embedded video files correctly.
Keep in mind that it is rarely the case that a presentation fails because of a compatibility issue between the computer and the file, or a technical failure such as a power shortage. However, it is important to keep in mind the various risks and dangers that can possibly occur, and how you can best be prepared.
Audiovisual - Microphones
Omni-directional microphones are used for picking up sounds from all directions at equal volume. They have rounded tips which protect the interior electronics so they have the shape that is usually characteristic of microphones. The disadvantage of this type of microphone is that sound from the speaker from walking and shuffling may be picked up. Also, there is a possibility that sound from the audience may be picked up.
Unidirectional microphones come in three types:
1.) Hypercardioid: Among the most expensive of microphones, these are used for picking up sound on one axis only, while rejecting almost all sounds from the edges. These are usually used for television and movies where things are mic’d from a distance. (most sensitive at front and sides)
2.) Supercardioid: Has better rejection than the Cardioid, but still doesn’t reject sound too well at an angle of over 60 degrees from the back, or bottom of the mic.
3.) Another variation on this theme is the Cardioid microphone, which has a heart-shaped pattern which allows it to pick up sound from the "cheeks" of the heart, but reject sound from the back. This might be useful for various public speaking applications.
a. Some cardioids microphones even allow you to change the settings to switch between supercardioid, omni, and another type called the "figure 8 polar pattern" (a bidirectional polar pattern which allows you to record 2 different sources
b. Cardioids microphones (Amazon.com: https://www.amazon.com/Behringer-XM8500-Dynamic-Cardioid-Microphone/dp/B000TTRGUE) are excellent at feedback suppression, can reduce noise through a shock handling system, and has a two stage filter that is good for minimizing "breath and pop noises"
c. They also have the greatest range
Strategic Results strongly recommends the cardioid microphone because of its versatility and the fact that it easy rejects unwanted sounds. It should be noted that this type of microphone can pick up sound from the largest range, which is highly useful for naturally soft speakers, or for women who don’t have a place on their blouse to clip on a lavaliere microphone.
Dress - what works best
Clothes that fit and move with your body are the best for public speaking, since you will tend to be moving as you speak.
1. Understand that different type of dress will be appropriate for difference audiences. Dark grey travel trousers and a dark blazer along with a tie are usually the norm.
2. There are three major considerations for deciding what you should wear:
a. What’s the message your are trying to convey (theme, topic of your talk)
b. Who is your audience
c. Are you trying to stand out, or blend in?
3. In most cases you want to dress one notch above your audience, which usually means wearing a business suit
1. Women usually have more flexibility in the choices they can make for a presentation of some sort. However, if the event is formal, which it almost always is for our clients, business casual should work.
a. Scarves or jewelry: these items have the potential to ruin an outfit or enhance it so much that the audience remembers you for it.
i. Jewelry: be careful of anything that may reflect light
b. Make-up: consider lighting so you don’t appear dull or pale in the presentation room
c. Test speaking gestures in the air before going onstage to make sure there aren’t any unseen gaps in your clothing
a. Style that conforms to the needs and expectations of the audience does not mean that you have to sacrifice comfort. New shoes may go nicely with your audience’s expectations and the occasion, but new shoes may not be broken in enough, and uncomfortable
b. Remember that some layers cannot be removed – be flexible in what you wear so that you can add or remove clothing based on the temperature of the room
c. Being prepared to adapt signals to the audience that you are prepared and responsible
3. Match top to bottom
a. Navy, grey, brown, and black (neutral colors) are suitable for professional speaking
i. Elegant jewel tones and regal dark colors are also appropriate
Strategic Results recommends formal dress for speakers. "Dress to impress" is the stand motto here. Meeting quality is increased when speakers adopt a dress code that reveals the seriousness of their topic and their attitude towards science, medicine, engineering, and business.
Audiovisual - Lighting
1. Lighting needs to be sufficient enough that people are able to take notes if necessary
2. The room should, at the same time, be dark enough that people can read PowerPoint slides
3. If the room must be dark, the presenter / speaker should be mindful that the audience needs to see him or her
a. Make sure the lectern has a light. If there is no lectern, put a soft light on yourself so the audience can see your face, and see the connection between your words and your face
b. Light also helps your audience stay awake, alert, and attentive
4. Find out ahead of time how much lighting is going to be available and where all the light switches are located. Remember you only have a fixed amount of time for your presentation. You don’t want to be wasting it on troubleshooting technical difficulties.
5. If natural light is an option, make sure that glare doesn’t negatively affect the quality of your visuals and readability of your words
Strategic Results recommends that people use the fullest amount of light possible while giving their presentation, as long as the presentation (slide, transparencies, whiteboard) is visible to the whole audience. Make sure the audience can see you and make the connection between your speaking and the subject matter.
1. Depending on the speed of the computer and the quality of the software being used, there may be a small lag-time between clicking (even multiple times) and the software sending the command to change the slide
2. Many of these clickers have built-in laser pointers for explaining certain features of the slide
3. Some higher end remotes include more advanced features:
a. Green laser is up to 10 times brighter than red
b. 360 degree mouse functionality
c. 100 feet range
d. 4 programmable keys, for "forward", "back", "laser", etc…
e. Can be pointed in any direction. This is perhaps the most important function, as the speaker doesn't have to break the flow of the presentation by turning their back to the audience
Strategic Results recommends using the highest quality wireless clickers to avoid a time-delay between the press of the button, and the actual slide-change. Wireless clickers give the presenter the flexibility to interact with the audience and convey their enthusiasm and passion for the subject at hand (by not being stuck at the podium). It is our vision that at all major scientific and medical conferences, people will take advantage of the electronic resources available to them.
Learn from Other Speakers
Listen to, and analyze, great speakers give talks in your subject area. This is a valuable resource and good practice to enhance the content of your own talk, as well as the subtle aspects of presentation and performance. Critique a presentation of one of your peers in order to get a better sense of what others are doing correctly or incorrectly. When you are critiquing a talk, be honest with what you say, but tactful. Reinforce what is good about the talk, and emphasize what needs to be changed.
Imitating other professional speakers is a good practice, and should be understood as an opportunity to bring out the cherished speaking qualities and presentation skills that you admire. As Michael Alley explains, "Having these individuals as models does not diminish my individuality as a speaker. Rather, it helps me bring out the traits in my own delivery that I value so highly in theirs."
As Lynn Miller states in "Giving a Good Scientific Presentation:" "Developing any sort of presentation is an iterative process", which means that honest feedback from a variety of sources and different kinds of people will help you to refine anything that is unclear, and resolve any major ambiguities in the presentation of your logical thought. Also, by practicing in front of your peers, errors in your findings are subject to review. Even minor grammatical or spelling errors can embarrass you in front of your audience, and cause you to lose some esteem as a member of the academic community.
Your profession as a researcher, scientist, or medical professional requires you to use your presentation techniques as mechanisms which facilitate deep understanding of the subject matter at hand. Content is important, but it will only be as good as your presentation preparation, delivery, and follow-through in the form of question and answer sessions, handouts, and further discussion. On the other end of the spectrum, your presentation preparation and delivery may be excellent, but if it isn't supported by proper evidence, it loses its meaning.
Visuals and Handouts
"A picture shows me at a glance what it takes dozens of pages of a book to expound." [References]
Visuals should not distract from the overall message of the presentation but facilitate a more vibrant and interactive learning experience. Scientific evidence is naturally communicated visually. Remember that you can break down your visuals into smaller pieces so the audience can slowly take it in. However, you don’t want to divide up the big pictures so much that your audience has to remember previous slides in order to understand the current one.
"Less is more" in most cases, but present all your key relevant data and significant results. Remember that in some cases, more could be more, especially if the concepts and data are so interdependent that the main message would be taken away if they were separated. [References]
Visual and auditory information are synthesized separately, but the human brain does a very good job of integrating them into a larger picture that is easily stored in long-term memory. The human brain can process visual imagery and auditory information simultaneously, and they appeal to different aspects of our experience, maximizing the richness of learning. Also, studies show that we absorb and retain best what we both see and hear together. [References]
The pacing of your presentation will inevitably be connected to the complexity of the information on each slide. The more you can break down your ideas into individual slides, the better the audience will be able to digest the information, discoveries, and findings, without having to worry about reading quickly as you speak. A good rule is to save 2 minutes per slide for a 45 minute presentation, assuming that are 20-25 slides. This will help to keep an overall time-line for your presentation which will dictate how much time you should spend for the introduction, body, and conclusion.
Momentum is your ability to allot a specific amount of time for each topic without digressing and thus losing the audience’s attention and diverting their listener energy to an unimportant topic. Momentum means that you change the topic at the moment when the audience is done learning about the previous one. Instruct audience members who must ask a question to hold their questions for the question and answer session, so you do not lose your momentum.
Keep text to a minimum on your slides, but if you must include a lot of text, guide the audience through it. People can usually only hold 3-4 ideas in their head at the same time, so it is useless to include more than that. Remember that if you cannot possibly simplify or reduce the data collected on your slide, include a concluding statement on the slide that unpacks on the large amount of data. Then, continue to explain the dense amount of data in light of that conclusion. [References] It will then be easier for your audience to comprehend the relationships between the data and the conclusions you are making.
Effective, Elegant Visual Aids
Elegance usually means that you must sacrifice some detail for the sake of clarity, brevity and simplicity. It’s OK to sacrifice some precision in your data if you can explain that sacrifice, rather than clouding the impact of a graph or chart.
Example of a good visual aid:
Visual Styles and Strategies
It’s generally a rule-of-thumb to include text that can be read and understood in eight seconds or less. Any longer, and it's likely that the audience must read while trying to listen to the speaker, which is detrimental to their absorption and retention of the material. In particular, there should only be three separate ideas per slide – any more and your audience is going to have a hard time understanding all of the material at the same time.
As Herbert Simon, Nobel Laureate in Economic Sciences puts it: "Human beings are essentially serial, one-thing-at-a-time devices. If they attend to one thing, they cannot simultaneously attend to another." [References] Simon's point is precisely that we need to be fed each aspect of the material individually in order to be able to appreciate it. As impressive as it may seem to have a plethora of information on each slide, it is not beneficial to the recipient, nor is it feasible for the lecturer to effectively communicate it. With that in mind, it is important to synchronize your speaking with your visual aids – the two must be intricately linked to form a cohesive picture for the recipient that is both auditory and visual in nature.
Include large lettering that is clear and stands out to the audience. When mathematical equations are involved in your work, try to avoid using them in your presentation, if possible, even when giving a talk to fellow scientists or people trained in mathematics. Focus on the relevance of your mathematics, rather than working through specific solutions or showing long derivations. It’s always possible to describe an equation verbally and succinctly to effectively get your point across. This will save you time and your audience energy. Never make assumptions about your audience’s sophistication in the area of mathematics. [References] Get to the point by "zooming out" and elaborating on the implications of your mathematical outcomes on your overall research findings. If you must show your equations, present each symbol of the mathematical equation individually and in logical sequence. Your audience will then see the gradual progression of your thoughts, rather than one complex formula.
Be bold! Large text headlines such as these will emphasize the important point you want to make, so that when the viewer sees your image, he or she is able to comprehend your message.
Use a uniform color code. It will help to establish continuity and develop the logical, progressive train of thought that you want to achieve. Changing your visual style in the middle of the presentation will either make you appear unfocused, or unprepared and indifferent to the appearance of your material. Remember that different color combinations evoke different emotions and mental pictures. Generally it is wise to use bright text and images with dark backgrounds.
-Some scientists say that it is better to have dark text on a light background for talks given in small rooms, whereas it is better to have light text and dark background for talks in large meeting halls or auditoriums.
Provide Guidance through Visual Data
Your audience will be in a passive "receiving mode" and will need to be walked through each image and its meaning.
If you must backtrack, it’s better to include a duplicate slide that is in sequence with your others, than to back up and try to find the first one again.
If using video, it is better to make sure that the clip is short enough that the attention is not diverted away from the speaker. In addition, supplement the video with your own auditory commentary rather than relying on a soundtrack to convey an important theme or detail. If used effectively, video clips can be extremely memorable and help to define a key point of a presentation.
Animation features are available through software packages such as PowerPoint presentation from Microsoft. However, use the animation features sparingly, as they will often detract from the audience’s attention and understanding of the material if too many things are going on. If you must use the animations, keep the same title, while separately changing each component below to build up a larger picture. If used effectively, this can be a powerful way of guiding your audience through complex visual data. [References]
Blackboards / Dry Erase Boards
Using a blackboard or dry erase board may be useful in guiding your audience through the lecture process, if they plan on taking notes. It also helps to portray the scientist’s logical though process and the flows of steps, phases, and experiments that ultimately led to the findings and conclusions. However, keep in mind that mere representation of data may be less convincing to a scientific board of physicians and researchers who are looking for hard evidence that your research deserves funding and further academic investigation. Blackboards and dry erase boards are generally good for explaining difficult mathematical concepts in a small instructional setting.
It might be helpful to include a handout for concepts and findings whose basis is too complex, involved, or multidisciplinary to be included in a brief lecture. Even in a longer lecture, or in a discussion on a focused topic, a handout might help sort out and illuminate some of the concepts covered. In either case, it is the job of the presenter to distinguish between the central findings of the research study, and the peripheral details. [References]
The Importance of Practice
The three "P's" of presenting are Plan, Prepare, and Present.
You are responsible for developing a communication strategy that will cater to your audience's needs and provide plenty of time for interaction during a Q-and-A session. Your goal should be to facilitate a learning environment where participation is encouraged, much like a workshop or seminar; a structure which allows all participants to learn from each other.
Use an extemporaneous style, rather than preparing to read from a script. This requires a great deal of previous knowledge on your topic and a general level of comfort with an audience. This structure allows you to establish your authority by maintaining important visual cues such as eye-contact with your audience.
Make sure your presentation is organized to accommodate for last minute adjustments that may be necessary. When preparing your presentation, keep in mind the central message, and make sure that it is applicable to each of these areas and sections of your talk:
1. Introduction (a limited discussion of your methods might be relevant here)
Remember to include acknowledgments and references, especially if someone listening to your presentation contributed to the development of your research.
Practice by speaking out loud to yourself, rehearsing the specific wording you would like to use to explain any difficult concepts. You want to make sure, in all situations, that the timing is worked out well enough to explain each concept effectively. Once you have rehearsed in front of a mirror, try giving your presentation to a friend or family member, in order to see what it feels like to talk in front of someone else. You might even want to try using a podium or some transparencies in order to feel comfortable with using visual aids while maintaining a coherent, logical, "conversation" with the audience.