Every researcher is supposed to share his/her research findings in an oral research presentation at conferences, workshops or symposiums. A well-done oral research presentation in the research community should; convey the significance of the research; specify the findings and the interpretation of those findings; encourage other researchers to question and provide the researcher with insightful feedback that could help the researcher to continue and develop your research.
How you begin your research presentation at a conference or in research talks makes a great deal. The listeners pay full attention when you start your presentation. Studies have shown that people lose attention gradually if the speaker starts with a poor note.
Remembering the importance of capturing the attention will set you up for many other strategies including getting valuable inputs for your future research. So don’t lose people with a dull start for your research presentation! You will have to gain the audience’s confidence and attention within the first 10-20 seconds of your session.
Once you lose your listeners, it is unlikely that you will get them back again. Now the question is, how to grab their attention throughout the presentation and convey your research results in the most appropriate way?
Here are a few tried and tested methods that will help you to make great research presentations. You need not have to try all these tips in a single presentation but at least a few can be of great help.
But before jumping into these methods first and the foremost thing you need to do is to prepare a powerful presentation. This itself will most of your problems. If you are not well versed you can try some professional agencies, which will help you to prepare the presentation in no time with a professional touch.
Research Presentation Tip #1: Start confidently
Begin with a quick introduction about yourself as this will help establish your credibility. Introduce yourself briefly. In this part, you can talk about what is your name, your co-authors, your affiliation and where you are from. Then tell in brief about your research topic for discussion, with a brief background for its selection.
Research Presentation Tip #2: Eye To Eye Contact With the Audience
A large number of audiences in the presentation hall make you feel jittery and lose your confidence in no time. This happens because you are seeing many of the audience for the first time and you don’t know their background and their knowledge of the subject in which you are presenting.
The best way to overcome this fear is to go and attack the fear itself. That is come at least 10-15 minutes early to the conference room and start interacting with the people over there. This short span of connectivity with a few of the audience will release your tension.
When you occupy the stage for presenting, the first thing you need to do is gaze around the room, establish one-to-one eye contact, and give a confident smile to your audience whom you had just met before the start of the presentation.
Just gazing around the presentation hall will make you feel connected to everyone in the hall. Internally within your mind choose one of the audience and turn towards him/her make eye contact and deliver a few sentences, then proceed to the next audience and repeat the same set of steps.
This will make everyone in the room feel that you are talking directly to them. Make the audience feel that you are engaging with them personally for this topic, which makes them invest fully in your topic.
Research Presentation Tip #3: Welcome Your Audience
Another important formality is welcoming your audience with a thank you. It shows both sincerity and appreciation and additionally establishes a sense of community with your audience. A great example of this is welcoming them coupled with a thank you for the opportunity to speak.
In my earlier days of presentations, I just used to go on stage and start my presentations without greeting anyone. Later I learnt stage etiquette with the help of my fellow research scholars and underwent professional etiquette courses.
Research Presentation Tip #4: Adjust your Voice
Make your voice as loud as you can. In some situations, you have to make your presentation in a big auditorium, so try to let every audience can hear you clearly even the people in the last row. Try to control your speaking speed. If you speak too slowly, it will make your audience bored within the first five minutes, while if you speak too fast, your audience will not follow you easily. So, just keep your speed moderate.
Many researchers are less talkative and speak with a very low voice and this makes their concepts unheard by other researchers. To overcome this drawback, they go for vocal coaching to improve their voice modulation.
Research Presentation Tip #5: Memorize your Opening Line
In general, it is not a good idea to memorize your entire speech. It is however a good idea to memorize the beginning 4– 10 sentences. This is critical because it allows you to feel confident and ride the wave of confidence as you continue your presentation. This is a professional practice you should always leverage to your advantage.
Remembering the concepts at the right time and in the right sequence is critical for every researcher. Few of my research scholars face the problem of forgetting everything once they reach the stage for presentation. To overcome this difficulty I gift them with one of my favourite books on improving memory power: ” Limitless by Jim Quick“. This book has changed many lives. You can also try.
Research Presentation Tip #6: Use the words “ ‘Think for while’, ‘Imagine’, ‘Think of’, ‘Close Your Eyes’ ”
Another powerful mechanism used by many speakers is getting the audience to imagine or think of something related to their work. This will pull the audience into your domain of work. This technique can be useful in starting a presentation.
Research Presentation Tip #7: Story Telling
People love stories, but your story has to be relevant to your research. You can craft a story about an experience you had and tell how you could able to define your research problem based on the experience you had. This makes your presentation both interesting and incorporates information about the work you are carrying out. Storytelling or sharing your own experience is the best way to connect with your audience. Many researchers use this technique and it remains one of the most critical pieces to becoming an effective presenter.
Some researchers use story telling for data representation and data visualizations. This is one of the powerful techniques to showcase data in the form of graphs and charts.
Research Presentation Tip #8: Facts and Statistics
Make your audience curious about your topic with a fact they didn’t know. Explaining the importance of your topic to your audience is essential. Showcasing data and statistics to prove a point remains a critical strategy not just at the beginning but also throughout. Statistics can be mind-numbing but if there is some compelling information that can help further the conversation.
In one of my blog posts, I explained the importance of facts and statistics in the context of improving citations for your research paper.
Research Presentation Tip #9: Power of “Pause”
We are all uncomfortable when there is a pause. Yet incorporating pause into your presentation can be a valuable tool causing the audience to be attentive to what you are going to say next. A pause is an effective way to grab attention. There are two ways you might use this technique. After you are introduced, walk on stage and say nothing. Simply pause for three to five seconds and wait for the full attention of the audience. It’s a powerful opening. Depending on the audience, you might need to pause for longer than five seconds.
At another point in your presentation, you might be discussing the results or you are about to provide important information, that’s when you pause to grab attention. You’ll probably feel uncomfortable when you first try this technique, but it’s worth mastering.
Research Presentation Tip #10: Quote a Great Researcher
Quoting someone who is a well-known researcher in your field is a great way to start any presentation. Just be sure to make it relevant to the purpose of your speech and presentation. If you are using slides, adding a picture of the person you are quoting will add more value to your presentation.
Research Presentation Tip #11: Begin with a Video
Video remains a powerful mechanism to begin a presentation. Limit your videos to 2–3 minutes. People like video, and it can capture their attention, but they can also tire of it easily. It gives the presenter and the attendees a break from each other. Sometimes, you just look for visible reactions from the audience that might provide a transition from video back to speaking. Conversely, for the attendees, the video provides a break from the speaker.
One sincere piece of advice while preparing the video is not to install the full video and start searching for the clip to be displayed to the audience. If you show this side or that side of the video content not relevant to the context, the audience may lose patience and drift away from the presentation. This shows your unpreparedness towards the presentation. I suggest you go ahead with professional video editing software to edit your video before showing it to your audience.
Research Presentation Tip #12: Avoid using too many “ok”,” so”, and “umms”
Many presenters, though have good content fail to impress the audience by using too many “ok” “so” and “umms” which shows a lack of good communication skills. This can be due to stage fear/poor preparation/happen unconsciously. They can ruin your credibility despite how innocent they look. One tip for avoiding this annoying habit is to practice your speech or presentation multiple times beforehand in front of your supervisor/research scholars / yourself in front of the mirror. If you are hesitant then the best option is to record your speech on your mobile and check for the mistakes unconsciously you make.