“There is no such thing as presentation talent, it is called Presentation Skills” David JP Phillips.
Presenting at a conference is no different to any other presentation – you need to be well prepared, consistent throughout and ensure you are able to resonate effectively with your audience. The good news is the techniques of an effective presenter can be practised. So how can is this accomplished? Here are some important things that will help you give an effective presentation.
“Fail to prepare, prepare to fail”. Preparation for anything is key, especially for presentations. Preparation of slides and yourself are paramount. Powerpoint slides should be used as a guide for your presentation, not something to be read from. It is important to know them inside out. The more times you practice, the more confidence you have during your presentation and your confidence will resonate with your audience. Recording yourself can be a help. You can see where you are good at and where you need to improve.
The Importance of Timing
Ensuring your timing is right is so important when presenting at a conference. Usually, a presentation lasts up to 20 minutes with a 5 minute Q & A session at the end. If you do not practice timing, you may not get a chance to highlight your findings and recommendations – the most important part!
Consistency is key
Consistent slides are a subtle thing but can take away from a presentation very easily. While slides with various different colours may look nice, they may be distracting to your audience. Using a consistent template with the same fonts will make it easier for your audience to follow and will lead to an all round better presentation. Sometimes less is more. You want your audience to listen to you instead of reading from slides all the time, and slides are only to be used as a guide for you, so less is more in terms of text on the slides.
A Picture Paints a Thousand Words
Images are key elements to any presentation. Whether it is a pie chart to show percentages, or images to convey a point, visuals can be much more effective than words. They help reinforce or complement the ideas or point you are trying to get across. Your audience can relate to an image and may be able to understand your message a little easier with visuals to relate to.
Body language has a very important role in presentations, especially at academic conferences. There are usually a lot of facts and findings to be highlighted in an academic presentation, and you need to use all the tools available to you to be interesting and effective. Body language is a great way to keep your audience engaged. Your gestures, tone of voice and positivity can be seen through your body language, and may determine how engaged your audience is.
Here is video of a typical research presentation by Jane Nichole Reiling. It is evident that this presenter is well prepared and consistent throughout her presentation. She uses some images and graphs to show her research results and also relies on her body language it keep the audience engaged.