Are you giving a presentation at an upcoming conference, but not sure where to begin? Read on to learn our top 15 tips to help get you on your way, and ensure your next scientific talk is smooth, interesting and a huge success!
Preparing your talk
- You are the expert
Remember that you know way more about your subject than anyone else. Be confident!
- Never assume knowledge of the audience
Always pitch your talk at a level where you are sure that everyone will understand, whether they’re an expert or not.
Prepare your talk well in advance, run through it multiple times and if possible present it to people who know nothing at all about what you work on because they’re the audience you’re trying to capture.
- Design is everything
Keep your slides as simple and as clean as possible. Only use animations if they are really needed to accentuate the point that you’re making.
- Stick to the allotted time
Generally calculate 1 minute per slide. If you’re giving a 10 minute talk, more than 10 slides is almost certainly too long.
- Minimise stress before you give your talk
Get your slides to the AV technicians well in advance of your session, make sure that they are projecting.
- Familiarise yourself with the equipment beforehand
Take time to go to the podium, check what button you need to press to change the slides, and what you need to do to use the laser pointer.
During your talk
- Eye contact, eye contact, eye contact!
No one wants to look at the back of your head or watch you reading the slide.
- Use your laser pointer sparingly
Just point out critical pieces of data to illustrate the point that you’re making.
- Stay calm
If something’s not working, first just try to calmly do it again and then if you need help, subtly indicate this to the AV technicians.
- Be aware of your audience
Look around during your talk, and you’ll be able to tell whether people are with you or not. Don’t be afraid to adapt!
- Project excitement!
Don’t be afraid to get wound up in the data. The more passion and the more information that you give, the more likely people are to remember your talk at the end of the day.
- Be memorable
Don’t worry if people remember you as the crazy person who waved their arms around! That’s fine as long as you’re communicating your science in a way that everyone can understand put every bit of passion and interest in it that you can.
- Take your time to answer questions
When answering questions after your talk, make sure you let the questioner finish their question before you answer. Think about what question they’re actually asking, and answer the question directly.
- Be aware of timing
When the sign comes that you need to start wrapping up, don’t go through all of the remaining slides at breakneck speed, but start wrapping up before you’re forced off the stage. Be prepared to skip a few slides to get to the end.
Original video with Julian Rayner from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, UK, in collaboration with EMBL.