A Guide to Presentation

Have a presentation for one of your courses and unsure where to start? Or maybe you need to present for a research symposium? During your undergraduate years, you will come across many times when you may have to give a presentation to present your research for coursework or perhaps for an individual research pursuit. Here are some tips to help you present easily and effectively! 

individual giving a presentation to an audience
Give the most nerve-free presentation with these tips!
  1. Create an outline

Outline the different sections of your presentation. Conventionally, a presentation will often start with some form of introduction or background information to provide the context for your topic. This will often lead into an explanation of why your research question is so important – often necessary to fill a gap in the current literature or just out of pure curiosity. You might go on to present a brief synopsis of the methods and data sources you used in order to conduct your research. A presentation of the results and corresponding analysis will then lead into a discussion of your conclusions and future investigations. Try to use this outline as an easier way to keep yourself on track throughout your presentation. It will help improve the flow of your speech and guide the audience through a topic that may appear seemingly complex to individuals learning the information for the first time. 

  1. Frame the bigger picture 

The big objective of giving a presentation to an audience is to discuss the information that you have collected and synthesized. The greatest goal should be to convey the significance behind the question you have devoted a lot of time to investigating. Why is your research meaningful? Why should people care? How will your research contribute to the improvement of society? How might your research go further through your work or by the work of others in the future?  

  1.  Practice, practice, practice

Practice delivering your presentation to your friends or family to get a better feel for the presentation. See if there are any sections that might come across as verbose and watch out for topic-specific vocabulary that could be clarified to increase the clarity of your presentation. See if individuals who are new to the topic were able to follow along and whether there were any parts to your presentation that came across as too confusing. It will also help you to get the practice of speaking to a larger group of individuals and can help calm your nerves. Practice your body language to keep the audience engaged, such as eye contact and hand gestures. Practice the timing of your presentation and be aware of striking a balance between explaining details and speaking succinctly. You can also schedule an appointment with the Writing Center to practice with someone new.

  1. Don’t be nervous! 

I know – easier said than done. But keep in mind that the people who are attending your presentation are just individuals who are interested in learning more about what you are passionate about. You are the expert who is teaching the audience about this topic. Keep calm and convey your interest!

— Rebecca Cho, Natural Sciences Correspondent