Congratulations on your selection to present your research at the Western Medical Research Conference in Carmel, CA. This is the result of your hard work and dedication to your passion for scientific discovery and improving healthcare one step at a time. We hope you enjoy the conference and have a growing and fun experience. Many of you have questions about how to organize your presentations (either poster or oral). The information provided on this page will hopefully provide guidance of organizing your talks.
1.) Preparation is key. Having absolute control and knowledge of your research subject is essential to conveying what you want your audience to get out of your presentation. You must consider how to best communicate your information to the audience. a. Organize your thoughts. When creating your presentation, start with a clear outline and develop smooth transitions between topics. i .Example: 1. Introduction- Background, Prior research, Central question, Importance/relevance 2. Methods 3. Relevant results 4. Discuss implications of these results 5. Next steps and real life applications
b. Clearly state the issue that your project addresses i. Identify the key points
c. PRACTICE. Yes, we’re talking about practice. Know what is coming up next in your presentation and points you want to emphasize through repetition. i. Practice with a timer to ensure that you stay within the time limit provided. ii. Practice in front of family and friends and receive feedback graciously. iii. Practice in front of a mirror or record yourself and give yourself feedback graciously. iv. Practice some more. When you think you have mastered your talk, make it better and practice more.
2.) Keep the Attention of your audience. a. Have a strong opening. Grab the audience’s attention with a question or interesting fact about your research topic that motivates them to pay attention to you for the rest of the talk.
b. Know your audience. Cater your presentation to the audience listening. i. Define your terms early. If you have an audience that may not be familiar with your research, introduce them to unfamiliar terminology to avoid losing them.
c. Simplify slides as much as possible including words and visuals. i. Try presenting your research without using Powerpoint slides initially. Then only create slides with information you need to visually portray to enhance your talk. ii. If you have graphs or equations, make sure to explain them fully. What may seem second nature to you may be confusing to members of the audience. Explain x and y axes from left to right on graphs and all constants and variables. iii. Use large font and bullet points. iv. Only use special effects when necessary to prove a point. They can distract the audience from your presentation.
d. Presence and confidence. An audience will feed off your energy level so bear in mind your body tone and language. i. Be excited. If you, the presenter, don’t sound excited, the audience sure isn’t going to be excited. ii. Speak with confidence. You know the most about your presentation out of everyone in the room, so present with authority. There will be questions you won’t know and it is OKAY to say you don’t know or defer to your mentor. Make sure to offer to look into the matter further. iii. Keep eye contact with the audience. As you speak, let your eyes settle on one person for several seconds before moving on to someone else. You do not have to make eye contact with everybody, but make sure you connect with all areas of the audience equally. DO NOT READ FROM THE SCREEN. The slide is for your audience to read from, not you. iv. Avoid filler words such as “Um, like, you know” as much as possible. To an audience, these are indications that you do not know what to say; you sound uncomfortable, so they start to feel uncomfortable as well. Pauses are your friend during these situations. v. Relax and breathe. Being nervous is normal. The best way to combat your nerves is through practice and repetition.
e. Finish with flair. Summarize your presentation with the high points and relevance to real-life and future applications. Convey to the audience, “How is the world better off as a result of what you have done?” i. Acknowledge the people who supported your research. Be sure to thank the people who made your research possible, including your mentor, research team, collaborators, and other sources of funding and support.