What a conference presentation is, how to prepare yourself well for it, how to create it, and what to remember while presenting the topic – you will find all of these ‘golden rules’ in our recent article in the Scientist’s Library series.
What is a conference presentation and what is its main idea?
A conference presentation is a factual, concrete way of presenting research results along with conclusions resulting from in-depth knowledge and analysis based on a researcher’s findings or ideas. These types of presentations are a kind of introduction to the particular subject, or conclusion, and may prove to be an excellent starting point for new experiments and researches. The purpose of conference presentations are not only disseminate knowledge on a certain topic “behind the scenes”, but above all – to engage and interest the listeners and hopefully motivate additional research/collaborations to obtain innovative results. It is worth exploring the subject of how to create a presentation and how materials and methods, not only its contents, draw listeners’ attention to the presentation. The presentation should inspire both you and your listeners to tell an impressive scientific story.
Before you start
There is a considerable difference between types of presentations. Although it is a crucial way of presenting ‘science’, it is usually limited to show only a tiny handful of all the topics you might like to discuss. Talks can vary tremendously in length, from short 15-20 min minisymposia presentations to longer keynote lectures. Organizing a presentation for a specific length of time can significantly impact the logic and flow of the talk. If you prepare a short presentation where yours is one amongst many, probably one slide will be sufficient as an introduction, and a second as methods; results should be close to 3-4 slides, highlights showing key points, and then a brief summary or conclusions slide.
Where to start?
Ask yourself first who your listener(s) will be. Will it be another scientist, the head of a well-known international company, students, or a potential co-worker? Or maybe it will be a person who has no idea about what you are talking about. You should consider this beforehand so that everyone joining the conference can understand what your subject of research and the results are. For example, for broad presentations to non-specialists, if you are a mathematician, physicist, or chemist – explain all the terms used each time, so that humanists clearly understand what you mean and why it is so important. The same is applicable if you are a specialist in humanities talking to mathematician, physicist, or chemist. Set a particular aim. If you would like the discussion to bring new reflections, try to be convincing to everyone and gain a new perspective of representatives representing various scientific areas. Moreover, make sure you indicate the keywords the first time they are used, often in the initial few slides. This will help both you and your audience; you – to logically arrange the lecture and the others – to find out what is the most important point of the whole speech.
The most important features
Let’s think about how many presentations you have made throughout your whole scientific activity. Remember them. Perhaps they contained a lot of text, or focused on everything you considered “the most important” and made the key points barely in the background? Of course, you may know very well how to create a good presentation and there is no need to give you any additional tips. However, you will surely agree that even if you only sort out all the rules you have already known from different sources, it is still useful.
Before you finish
Of course, before you consider the presentation done and are happy to move forward, e.g. send it to conference organizers, you should think about it again, become a part of the audience for a moment, and re-check the content. It is important to avoid random typos or unintentional mistakes in the results. When you are sure the work is completed, you can join the conference and make the world even a little better thanks to your presentation!
Our e-book How to create a good conference presentation is available here.