Roaring for change: Presenting Your Research

The process of research might involve a complex mass of reading articles and crafting arguments, but the goal of research is simple: change. No one would devote time and energy to a concept if they didn’t expect their results to make a difference. Whether adding to a field, correcting a premise, or highlighting some new phenomenon, the surest way to encourage change is to frame research with a strong presentation.

By the way, presenters get a t-shirt with the conference motto and cute, researching tigers. Wear it proudly.

Princeton’s writing seminar students can present their work to faculty and peers at the Quin Morton ’36 Freshman Research Conference. PCUR readers are welcome, so save the date: Friday, November 21 in the Writing Center.  At last year’s conference, I was selected to present my research on affirmative action. I felt first-hand the excitement of leading people to question beliefs they had firmly held just minutes before. Last Tuesday, I volunteered at a workshop on presenting research for this semester’s Quin Morton student presenters.  The conference’s motto “Research. Revise. Roar.” hints at one of the workshop’s biggest themes: finding your voice.

Presenting research involves a range of skills that are not necessarily included in the writing process, and chief among them is verbalization.  At a conference, research needs rhythm – a kind of steady confidence that proves your authority to people who don’t know how long or hard you worked. They do know they want to learn something before post-conference handshakes, coffee, and donuts… But they also know there will be post-conference handshakes, coffee, and donuts, so your time at the podium is limited. That’s why media is so crucial in presentations.   A powerful image can instantly spark reactions that would need two pages of written development. Anecdotes represented visually, or supplemented by statistics, create an experience rather than a summary of your research. And when research is experienced, it leaves a lasting impression on those who felt it. They’ll not only remember your point, but wrestle with how it should be applied – which is, by definition, the root of change.

Overall, the Quin Morton ’36 Freshman Research Conference is a great way to recognize the importance of presentation.  I can confirm there will be post-conference handshakes, coffee, and donuts; and even more importantly, I know it’s an amazing opportunity to set ideas in motion. When you present, you accept the challenge to make your audience feel like their time – and your research – was worth it. Finding the right voice, framed by the right media, will undoubtedly make your research roar.

— Melissa Parnagian, Social Sciences Correspondent