Research papers can take months or years to move from the idea generation all the way to completion. Despite the long and task intensiveness of preparing a research paper, many researchers still find the oral presentations in conferences which could last from five minutes to an hour the most daunting.
Many researchers get nervous when asked to do a presentation on their findings. With so much information gathered over months or years, it is important to only deliver the most important information that is relevant to the audience. Therefore, it is handy to have a process in place when preparing for a presentation so the delivery can become easier.
Please see below for some tips on how to prepare a successful presentation.
Find the purpose of presenting.
It is important to find out the main reason why you were asked to deliver the presentation. Find out if they want you to talk about a method or approach, or if it is only about the findings. Understanding the scope of what they want from you is important before crafting a presentation. Without a scope, you might be confused on finding out which parts of your research is important to the audience.
Ask who the audience will be.
Whether you are presenting to your own department or to a vast audience of doctors, it is important to find out who your audience will be before drafting a presentation. It is good to know how much prior knowledge in your field your audience has. Are they familiar with the recent research in the area you will be presenting about? How much technical knowledge do they have? Will technical terms need to be defined?
Creating the structure.
Normally when you get asked to do a presentation, the timing will be defined already. Once you understand how much time you are given, you can start structuring your presentation around it. For example, if you were given 20 minutes to present, you need to start thinking how much time you want for the introduction, a brief description about your research, the body, conclusion and allocated time for questions and answers. It is important not to exceed your allotted time or even worse, have no time to finish your presentation. Therefore, it is important to be selective with the information you plan on delivering to your audience which would be gained based on the scope the organizers have given you.
Making data presentations visually appealing.
When presenting data, some presenters bombard the audience with so many findings that the information delivered to the audience gets overwhelming. This is when it is important for the presenter to figure out which data is most relevant and appealing to the audience. It is better the audience remembers a key takeaway from your presentation than nothing at all. Thus it is important to keep the charts or graphs simple and visually appealing. Aside from visually appealing charts and graphs, it is also important that the data is ethically presented and could not be easily misinterpreted.
For new researchers, being asked questions about their research can be intimidating. However, it is good to take note that a good presentation naturally gets good discussion and interesting questions. To prepare for this, it is good to assume what types of questions your audience might be asking. Is your method or approach uncommon? Could your findings be a little controversial? What are the practical applications to your research, if any?
When asked a question, listen attentively to the person asking the question. If you do not understand, try to repeat the question and paraphrase it in your own words if you are not sure you understand it correctly.
If you cannot answer the question, you can offer the audience to answer, or tell the person asking the question that you do not have an answer for that question in this given time, but happy to get back to them when you have an answer.
To sum this up, you should feel great about all the hard work you have gone through if you get invited to present about your research paper. Presenting your research paper is also a great opportunity to learn from others, and share information that you find very important. So enjoy it while you are at it!