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 Five P’s to a Poised and Perfect Presentation

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gaurav_prakash
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PostSubject: Five P’s to a Poised and Perfect Presentation   Wed Oct 27, 2010 1:43 pm

Planning
Preparing
Practicing
Previewing
Presenting




Planning


First consider
How much time you will have available for the actual talk (plan on leaving 15-20% of stated time slot for questions)

What audiovisual equipment will be available (especially if talk is "in the field" or not in the US)

What kind of audiovisual aids will be expected (depends on field, site, type of presentation)

What the background of your audience will be

Don’t get too technical for a general audience

Select or pitch your material to match the interests of the audience

What the room might be like (assume the worst)
KISS (Keep It Sharp and Simple)


Focus and organization are even more critical than in written work

Be very selective in the material you present
Tell a good story and keep to the plot
Acknowledge the work of others

Remember: a talk is not a written paper read out loud

Emphasis in most talks is on rationale and objectives, results (especially), conclusions, and future work
Organization usually follows that of written paper of the same type

Methods are less detailed than in a written paper, and more woven into the results

Transitions are more necessary

Repetition is more acceptable; listeners will need reminders of things you’ve already said


Slides must be simple, easy to read, and legible from a distance


Use high-contrast text/background (black text on white, white text on blue, best quality photos)

Choose colors visible to the color-blind


Use a consistent design (same background, same color or symbol/treatment throughout

Minimize text; set up as bulleted/highlighted statements, 24 points or larger, easy-to read font

Design the slide to project to the center of the screen (many screens are too small to show very tall or very wide slides)

Tables and figures should illustrate one to a few points only; you might build a complex figure one curve at a time in a series of slides, until you have all the curves on one graph, or present several short tables, then a summary table

Figures especially may have titles on top that would not appear in a written publication

Preparing I (in advance)


Set up slides in slide tray; mark top right-hand corner with number; lock slides in; (bring your own tray, if possible)
Bring a laser pointer, a small battery-operated light, and a timekeeper with large numbers

Make large-print note cards/sheets and/or full size originals of slides

Practicing



Practice several times

Videotape and critique yourself

Think about/enact what you might do if a problem arises (projectionist drops and scrambles the slides; projector jams; light blows; power goes out)

Keep track of your time
Practice at least once in conditions as close to "real" as possible


Practice out loud

Use your real slides and notes

Use whatever equipment you think you’ll have: microphone, projector control, lectern

Don’t turn the microphone on if you think you may not have one at the venue

Have an audience at least once

Spot the audience around the room, especially in the back

Ask for a frank critique, including voice quality and volume, distracting mannerisms

Ask your audience to throw you the most difficult, potentially embarrassing questions they can think of
Previewing
Check out the room and facilities

What’s the conformation of the room?

How will lights be handled?

Is there a microphone?

Who controls the slide projector?

Is there a lectern?

Will you be able to see your notes?

Will the room be dark enough for your slides?

Preview your slides


Preparing II (right before)

Rest, Refuel, and Relax

Prepare mentally for an infinite variety of distractions

Remember that you’ve already come up with solutions to most potential problems, and you can handle the rest

[Introduce yourself to the moderator at the earliest opportunity]

[Provide moderator or host with material for introduction, if necessary]

[Give your slides (marked with your name and talk) to the projectionist]

[Lay out what you need (including water) in advance, if you can]



Presenting

Convey the EXCITEMENT and PROMISE of your work

Talk to the audience

Establish eye contact with various members

Watch for general reaction; adjust as necessary

Keep your poise and sense of humor, no matter what

Speak distinctly and a little more slowly than usual (especially with a microphone)

Move around casually, if possible
Watch out for nervous mannerisms (including speech mannerisms, sighing) or pacing
If you move, don’t get out of range of the microphone or block the screen

Use your slides and notes as cue cards
Sound as conversational as possible


Don’t read the talk (If you must read, make it sound like you’re not reading, and maintain frequent eye contact with the audience)

Deal with questions calmly and with enthusiasm
Ask the questioner to repeat, if necessary, or repeat the question as you understand it

You are allowed a few seconds to think

"I don’t know" (or, "it’s unknown", if you know that’s so) can be the best answer

Some possible responses (put together as appropriate; use with discretion)
That’s a very interesting/ good question…
I’m glad you asked that…
We considered that, but didn’t do it because…
I didn’t have time to discuss that, but (bit of detail)…
We’re working on that (bit of detail)
We’d like to look at that/we’ve applied for funding
That’s extremely interesting, but…
It’s outside the focus of our research effort
Like all methods, this has its limitations; we used it because…

Thank the audience for their attention
Go partake of refreshments!

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