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How to make scientific presentations interesting

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by

Grace Mutemi

on 22 February 2014

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Transcript of How to make scientific presentations interesting

THANK YOU FOR LISTENING

The selfish question,
in which the questioner merely wishes to draw attention to him or herself

and the malicious question
, where the questioner wishes to embarrass you or start unnecessary debate

QUESTION TIME….

Your aim here is to restate the lessons learned in a short, concise manner
The conclusion should summarize the main points
Try for a strong finish
Stopping

THE CONCLUSION

Do not Inflict Pain on the Audience

Some presenters feel that the audience should fully appreciate the pain it took them to reach their conclusion.




THE BODY….


This part is up to you.

Observe what successful presenters do that make their presentations so interesting.

Some have a natural “theatrical” skill that many of us would never be able to emulate


Do not worry.



The best antidotes for nervousness are practice and experience

Make sure you prepare adequately beforehand and practice the talk.





Good grooming and dress is important but avoid appearing overly ostentatious

Casual business dress is often the norm today for colloquia and conference presentations

A jacket and tie for men and professional attire for women is also common, particularly if an individual is interested in seeking employment in the near future.





Project energy and vitality without appearing hyperactive

Use natural gestures

Try not to remain rooted in one spot,
but
avoid excessive roaming


A simple three-part template for producing a talk is as follows:

A. Introduction
B. Body
C. Conclusion

Rehearsal is the key to making sure that you will deliver the presentation without exceeding the time

Even very experienced speakers rehearse their presentations.


You can rehearse on your own, or with the help of colleagues.






Faulty delivery can ruin even a well prepared talk

What to Say and How to Say It.

Being correct but not having the ability to convince others means you will not be heard or seen in many situations.

There is no right or wrong method.

BE BOLD

Take charge of your communication skills

It is another way of marketing yourself

COMMUNICATION

A SCIENTIFIC PAPER IS LIKE AN HOURGLASS

Practice!
Practice !
Practice !


LAST TIPS



Answer knowledgeably.

Do not answer questions in a dismissive or confrontational manner.

&
Remember that “I do not know” is also a good answer

The best defense against these types of questions is to be prepared, be polite, and avoid getting involved in a lengthy exchange.

Offer to discuss it after the talk, since a one-on-one discussion is likely to be less acrimonious than a public one.


An acceptable way to do this is to say “Thank you.
Are there any questions?”
It is customary to end a presentation with a short period for questions
You can expect to receive three types of question
the genuine request for knowledge, which should cause you no difficulties if you are adequately prepared



Indicate that your Talk is Over



speaking is not finishing
Leave the audience with a “take home message”.
Hindsight is Clearer than Foresight
Be Open About Problems
Be open about any uncertainties in your work.
This way you may defuse antagonistic questions during question time



THE CONCLUSION…

This is a summary of the major findings, and their importance for the field of study
The first paragraph is the summary
Subsequent paragraphs elaborate on the key findings and place them in context



DISCUSSION SECTION

Select key figures that illustrate the important points
Do NOT attempt to describe every panel of every figure
Summary of Results



EXPERIMENTAL RESULTS

Never waste an audience’s time taking them through a step-by-step history of your project if it is for no other reason than to document the great challenges you had to overcome.
Only emphasize the lessons learned.
Do not try to convince an uninterested audience that you were a superhuman.


THE BODY….

Explain the Significance of the Results

Focus on anything unexpected or crucial to supporting your conclusions

Sketch
a Proof of the Crucial Results

The emphasis is on the word “sketch.”

State the hypotheses and experimental design as simply as possible.


THE BODY….

This is the meat of your presentation
YET
it is the point at which the attention of the audience will start to waver if you messed up your Introduction.

Consider the following suggestions:
Abstract the Major Results
Describe the key results of the presentation.





THE BODY

But this happens a lot today.





The use of terminology and jargon should be kept to a minimum, but is impossible to avoid entirely.

All terms must be introduced early

DISCUSS EARLIER WORK





INTRODUCE TERMINOLOGY


Explain why the problem is so important.

How does the problem fit into the larger picture?
What are its applications?
What makes the problem nontrivial?

Avoid broad statements such as:

“Membranes are good for the environment and therefore we studied the impact of pH on performance.”



MOTIVATE THE AUDIENCE

Mostly forgotten by most speakers.

The problem should be clearly described

If the audience does not understand the problem being attacked, then they will not understand the rest of your talk.

condense the problem into few carefully chosen words.

DEFINE THE PROBLEM

Before the session starts, walk up to the podium and look things over.

Is a pointer provided? How does it work? What kind of microphone system?
operated?
How is the projector
Introduce yourself to the session chair if you haven’t already
If you have 35mm slides,
be sure they are mounted properly
and are in the correct order.


Familiarize Yourself with the Stage


Do not put too much on each slide.

Try not to write full sentences.

The slide is an adjunct to your talk; it should be used for emphasis, to resolve ambiguity, for precision and for the retention of information over a short period of time

One Slide = 1–3 minutes (average shorter for photos or simple drawings)



The use of color can enhance a presentation,
particularly when used in moderation in the figures and diagrams

Only use high contrast color combinations

What looks legible and attractive on a computer screen will invariably look worse on the overheads.


keep the number of colors to a minimum.




Upper case letters are less legible than lower case letters

This is why lower case is commonly used in direction signs on motorways and on the underground

Our eyes are more accustomed to small letters in books and newspapers.

Minimize the use of upper case letters
in presentations
Complicated tables are not visual aids!

They have been described as instruments of torture for the audience.

Tables of data suitable for written publication are highly unsuitable for a scientific presentation.

 Four types of graphs are often used: bar or column charts; curves; pie-charts; and scatter graphs.

Bar charts are better for lettering than column charts

The number of bars should be
limited to five to seven.

Why use visual Aids?

We remember 20% of what we hear;
30% of what we see,
but between 50% and 75% of what we see and hear
(Sorgi and Hawkins, 1985)

“A picture is worth a thousand words” Chinese Proverb

Visual and Aural Aids (speaking visually)


How often have you heard someone start with an apology such as “I really didn’t have enough time to do my presentation . . .?”

The speaker may be doing nothing more than trying to deal with his/her own nervousness, but as a result the audience now has a lower opinion and expectation of the speaker and their presentation.

BE CONFIDENT


English appears to be a common language for scientists of all nations

It is a good idea to get a native speaker to look over your slides before you deliver the talk

Use a prepared text, if necessary

In general, the scientific community is accustomed to and tolerant of foreign accents and modes of speech.


Speak clearly and with sufficient volume

Do not speak in a monotone. Vary your pitch

Avoid utterances such as “Um, ah, er”, etc. (This is a sure giveaway that you have not practiced your talk).

Avoid fashionable turns of phrase.





Spread your attention throughout the audience instead of concentrating on any one person or group (even if they are the only ones who matter)

If presenting at a conference, be sure to glance periodically at the session chair, who will signal you when you are running out of time.



humor should not be a major focus in a scientific conference

However, it can play a very powerful role in keeping the audience’s attention.

your goal is to educate the audience, not simply to present material to those who care to listen.




This first section is the most important part of your presentation.

First impressions are very important.

It sets the tone for the entire talk.

It determines whether the audience will prick up their ears, or remain slumped in their chairs.

A lot of snap decisions about your competency are made before the Introduction is over.


THE INTRODUCTION









Unless it is explicitly stated otherwise, when you are told that the talk is to last for 30 minutes, plan to talk for at most 25 minutes, and leave 5 minutes for question time

Do not try to cover too much material.

Keeping to time


Pauses in speaking replace punctuation in writing: comma: break of one second; semicolon: break of two seconds; period/full stop: break of three seconds;
paragraph: break of four seconds

Varying the tone, pitch and volume helps to maintain the attention of the audience.


It is more effective not to read your presentation.

If, however, you read from a script, the script should be written for hearing not reading.

Prompter cards or prompter slides can help the speaker to deliver the presentation without having to read


PRESENTATION


This is necessary for speakers of all experience levels.

It is amazing how much better a presentation can be when it is practiced.


The practice must be verbal, not just mental.



proper use of presentation materials and the microphone.




Think through the average level of expertise in your audience and present your results accordingly.

Don’t try to impress unless it is a job interview

What to Say and How to Say It”


choice and organization of the material to be presented.




GETTING THROUGH TO THE AUDIENCE

Make sure that your talk emphasizes the key ideas.

skip what is standard, obvious, or merely complicated.

Do not get Bogged Down in Details
(Details are out of place in an oral presentation
)

The audience generally wants an overview of the work so that they can determine whether additional details are worth pursuing.


COMMUNICATE THE KEY IDEAS


The abstract is the part of the presentation that will be published in the conference program.

A good abstract should be a miniature version of the presentation.

The abstract should be sent to organizers before the deadline and in the format and length requested.


In the planning stage, the
title
of the presentation has to be decided
An
abstract
has to be submitted to the organizers of the scientific meeting.

A good title can be defined as the fewest possible words that adequately describe the contents of the presentation.


The abstract can attract or put off the audience


PLANNING STAGE

INTRODUCTION (Materials and Methods) RESULTS and the HYPOTHESIS/RATIONALE are key when it comes to presenting a scientific paper
The Introduction is useful for background




THE WIDTH OF THE HOURGLASS IS INVERSELY PROPORTIONAL TO IMPORTANCE

GRACE NGARUIYA
Critical Care Nurse specialist
(BScN/MScN)

HOW TO PRESENT A SCIENTIFIC PAPER

DISCUSSION
Abstract = mini hourglass


INTRODUCTION
(Materials and Methods
Results


The Discussion is a useful summary
What is an Abstract?
“Visual and audio aids”
Rehearsal
The average rate of delivery is not more than 120 words a minute.

A word processor can give the exact word count of a written presentation

A double spaced typewritten page is about 240 words.

ten minute presentation- more than 5 pages of double-spaced text.


Use an Organized Approach
Use Repetition

“Tell them what you’re going to tell them (the Introduction)

Tell them (the Body)


And then tell them what you told them (the Conclusion).”

Don’t be afraid of repetition.
Use Humor
Maintain Eye Contact
Control Your Voice
Control Your Motion
Try not to fall off the dais

If you do manage to do something embarrassing, do not stop the presentation
Just keep going

Never show the audience your back

Minimize Language Difficulties
Do not Start Your Talk with an Apology
Try Not to Get Anxious
Be Different
Letter Cases
Use

Color

Effect
ively
There is nothing more frustrating than listening to a talk that covers something that has already been published.

EMPHASIZE THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF YOUR PAPER

DO NOT OVERLOAD SLIDES

Once you have selected and organized your material, the next major hurdle is when you find yourself actually standing in front of the audience.
The speaker who exceeds his allotted time is guilty of gross bad manners.
He inconveniences not only on his audience, but also on all the speakers who come after him
General rules to obey
is like a mini hour glass
HOW TO PRESENT A SCIENTIFIC PAPER

Presented by:
GRACE NGARUIYA
Critical Care Nursing specialist
(BScN/MScN)
Full transcript