BISC209/F13:Guidelines for oral presentations

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Wellesley College- BISC209 Microbiology- Fall 2013

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Tips for Oral Presentations

The following tips come from the PLTC Oral Presentation Peer-Tutors. They should help guide you in the development of your oral presentation.

GENERAL TIPS:

  • Keep it simple!
  • Keep to the time limit. ( presentation + Q&A)

QUESTIONS TO KEEP IN MIND AS YOU DEVELOP YOUR PRESENTATION:

  • What is my purpose?
  • Who is my audience?
  • What do they already know about the topic?
  • What information will they find relevant? interesting? amusing?
  • If the information is controversial, what is the audience’s position, attitude or reaction likely to be?
  • What information might I include/leave out?
  • Have I made the structure of my talk clear to the audience?

HOW TO ORGANIZE YOUR MATERIAL

  • Engage the audience with your first sentence; don’t mistake your first sentence for your introduction.
  • Use clear and simple topic sentences and transitions between main points.
  • Use scientific format to organize the order of specific information
    • Introduction (catch attention, set up problem, broad/specific questions addressed, etc.)
    • Method (experimental design)
    • Results (what did you find? what does it mean?) Make sure there are visual representations of processed or key data but not too much
    • Conclusions (does your data answer your experiment question(s)?, significance in broader context, future directions, etc.)

PRACTICE AND DELIVERY

  • Dress up! If you look professional your ideas will be taken more seriously by your audience
  • Practice enough so you avoid reading your notes or reading from slides on screen.
  • Nerves: if you know your material, nerves can only give you an extra boost of energy.
  • Use a pointer to indicate key data in graphs or tables ; practice on the technology you will be using.
  • Look enthusiastic, confident, and sincere—don’t use weak words (just, really).
  • Make eye contact in slow sweeps of the room (make “M” or “W” scans across the audience).
  • Stand still; balanced on both feet.
  • Any gestures or movements should appear natural and fit with what you are saying.
  • Voice: watch for Volume, Clarity, Variety and Inflection!¬¬¬
  • Watch for fillers: ah, umm, like, you know, OK.
  • Talk slowly, remember the power of the silent pause—write in pauses if it helps.
  • Pay attention to the transitions and make audience aware of movement from one point to another
  • Look interested and attentive when your team members are presenting.
  • Sum up the 1 or 2 main points you wanted to make in the conclusion.
  • Recapture your audience with your final statement; end on a high note.
  • Prepare an outline or note cards.

ANSWERING QUESTIONS:

  • Anticipate questions: what are the weak points of your argument?
  • Don’t be defensive
  • Don’t rush to answer—remember, pauses can be powerful.
  • Smile your way through your mistakes

USING A POSTER

  • Use clear colors, spacing, not too much information in words or data displays
  • Give the audience a second to take in the poster and skim through it before beginning (to decrease distraction).
  • If pointing, make it exact. Turn towards the poster, find the spot, turn back, and then begin talking while facing the audience.