Art of effective research presentations


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Art of Effective Research Presentations: 

Art of Effective Research Presentations Dr. Deryck D. Pattron, Ph.D. Public Health Scientist


Contents The Problem Overview Planning The Process Preparation Key Ingredients Presentation Handling Questions References

The Problem: 

The Problem The scientific presentation is a common method of expression used by scientists or students of science to show, display or educate their audience about some aspect of science. Scientific presentations are becoming more and more a work of art or is being recognized as such by scientists. The art of scientific presentations are not fully known by researchers and young aspiring scientists. The purpose of this presentation is to inform, educate and disseminate information on the art of scientific presentation as a means of bridging the gap between what is known and what is unknown in the scientific community.


Overview An oral scientific presentation should be ten minutes long. It should include: Summary (1 slide) Literature review (1-2 slides) Methodology (1 slide) Results (4-8 slides) Conclusion (1 slide)


Planning The type of presentation: an informal chat a seminar discussion, or other formal presentations The composition of the audience: general audience or specialists Size of audience The time allotted for the presentation: the longer the presentation, greater depth and breadth of coverage of the topic a short presentation needs to be very clear and concise and to address the topic directly Expectations of presentation: Directly influenced by aims and objectives of presentation Present existing concepts or novel concepts Avoid loosing the audience

The Process: 

The Process Organize and present the material in a new and interesting way. Create an idea network as an alternative for the presentation, instead of a list of terms and ideas. Sufficiency of material. Be prudent in eliminating non-essential material as this impacts on the quality of the presentation.

Preparation : 

Preparation Begin preparing for the presentation at least two weeks before it is due. Collect materials on or related to the topic. Analyze the materials carefully for content and relevance. Arrange materials so that most important points are mentioned first and the least important points are mentioned last in order to facilitate retention of information by the audience. Transition elements that link one point to another should be logical and systematic. Use short clear statements. Basic concepts should be introduced early in the presentation. .

Preparation (Cont’d): 

Preparation (Cont’d) Determine which elements would require visual aids. Decide on the mode of presentation, whether PowerPoint, flipchart, projector, etc and determine what equipment would be needed e.g. pointer, whiteboard, marker, projector, laptop, etc. Determine the presentation medium used transparencies, slides, video, multimedia, etc. Review the presentation with the aim of cutting unnecessary points or ambiguous ideas. Rehearse your presentation, first privately then in front of a few colleagues asking for feedback. Revise, review and improve the presentation.

Key Ingredients: 

Key Ingredients Practice: At least 10 times or more starting at beginning, middle and end of presentation. Opening: Should catch the interest and attention of the audience immediately. Rate: Most scientific presenters have a talk rate of 100 words per minute. This represent the maximum rate of information retention and should not be exceeded. Length: The presentation should be about 10 minutes long. Transitions: The presentation must consist of free flowing ideas, systematic and logical. Conclusion: This represents a summary of the findings and should succinctly state what you have discovered in relation to other similar findings in the international, regional and local arena.

Presentation: so you are introduced, what next?: 

Presentation: so you are introduced, what next? Take several deep breaths. State the objectives of the presentation. Select a natural moderate rate of speech with moderate gestures. You a laser pointer when illustrating a point. Present your topic with enthusiasm. Involve the audience in the presentation. Keep an eye on the time. Conclude by saying “In conclusion….”.

Handling Questions: 

Handling Questions This provides an evaluation of on how you interact with the audience. Always repeat the question, since this serves two purposes, firstly, it allows sufficient time to reflect on the content of the question and secondly it ensures that the audience is aware of what is being asked. After answering question ask the person if the question was sufficiently answered. If the person says no, ask for clarification and/or ask the person to meet with you afterwards for a more detailed discussion. Avoid prolonged discussions and debate with one person. If you are unable to answer a question just say so, suggest resources or ask for suggestions from the audience.


References Alley, M. 2003. The Craft of Scientific Presentations. Springer-Verlag, New York. Kenny, P. 1983. A Handbook of Public Speaking for Scientists and Engineers. Adam Hilger, Ltd., Bristol. Pattron, D. 2000. Fundamentals of Scientific Research. Scientific Publishers, New York. Woolsey, J. D.1989. Combating poster fatigue: how to use visual grammar and analysis to effect better visual communications. Trends in Neurosciences, 12(9):325-332. Zanna, M.P., Darley, J.M.(eds). 1987. The Complete Academic - A Practical Guide for the Beginning Social Scientist. Random House, New York.

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