Advice: Let’s Present.

I’ve been reaching out and asking for advice on presenting research at conferences. I’ve gotten some advice that I think is really great, so I’m going to share it with you! Let me know what you think of it and if you have any more suggestions! I’m going to do my best to use these going into my 12 minute presentation on my thesis and after the presentation experience is over I’ll write up an update about what advice I felt worked and what else I’ve learned from my presentation.

Time frame advice:

  1. For a 12-minute presentation, the written presentation should be about 6 pages, 2 minutes per page.
  2. Practice the timing of your presentation at home, in the mirror and in front of friends.
  3. Slow down, when you’re presenting make sure you force yourself to take your time. This one is extra important for me because I already speak fast.

Content advice:

  1. Have a focus of 1-2 sentences that you want the audience to hold onto. Build the rest of your presentation around supporting that focus.
  2. Include why this topic matters to the audience. Make sure that you share why this audience specifically should care.
  3. Don’t be dry. Make sure you share your topic seriously but a little bit of humor can help you appear accessible and comfortable.

Q & A advice:

  1. It’s okay to say, “I don’t know” if you don’t know the answer.       You don’t know everything in the whole world but you do know your topic. Answer questions on your topic as best you can and be honest about when the questions are outside of your presentation framing.
  2. Say thank you! This is always advice but definitely do not forgot to thank people for being involved in the work that you’ve been pouring your heart into. Validate their opinions, let them know they you appreciate their concerns and then answer to the best of your ability.
  3. If you get asked a technical question, you can give a brief answer and let the question-asker know that you’d love to share more details after the presentation is over. This is so that you respect everyone’s time, if you think that your answer may take a while cut it short but meet the question-asker afterwards. You might make an excellent network connection!

Random Advice:

  1. If you use slides, do not make a “good-bye slide”, have your conclusion slide as the last slide so that that’s what is visible during the Q & A.
  2. Dress professionally. Wear a blazer or a suit.
  3. This is my favorite advice that I’ve ever gotten on presenting: You know your topic; you are the expert on it. If you’re presenting your material that means someone was interesting in hearing what you have to say.
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