Discussion point 1: Presentation skills

Okay, so here's the first of those discussion points I alluded to in my last post. What are your tips for creating and 'performing' a good presentation?

I for one realise that my 'comfort blanket' reading from a written paper doesn't make for the most successful presentation, at least not from the audience's perspective. But, it does help to bolster my confidence by knowing that I won't forget any important points, get into a muddle with my slides, nor run out of time. It's a question of balance I think.

We were witness to a lot of very good presentations this week. What do you think worked well, and what do you plan to put into practice next time around?


Ceri said…
I would much prefer to not speak from a bit of paper but I have to agree with you Amy that it gives me great comfort and actually helps me to speak more slowly. I tend to rush more without one!

I do not really have any good tips for presentations but I think it helps to have a good narrative running through and for me a presentation has to be entertaining. This time I think I accomplished that with lots of gratuituous pictures of medieval films, Monty Python and three of Orlando Bloom :) Or coming at a subject from a different or unexpected angle is always interesting, for me at least.
Kostas said…
I would add, involving the audience in the presentation. Of course, not always possible, but good fun!

In a conference few weeks ago, the presenter had left before the session a piece of lego on each chair of the lecture theatre. When she started her presentation asked the person at the top of the room to give his lego piece to the next one, who would join it with his own and pass it further and so on...in the end there was a rather futuristic shape of lego, which it was brought in the panel to be used to discuss the notion of collaboration.
Ceri said…
Oh yes that is a good point Kostas... audience involvement is a good idea to make it more memorable. However it is sometimes a struggle to fit it into a 30 minute paper which is why I dispensed with the idea for my research week paper. I was going to ask people what their views on the middle ages were.. but reasoned that not everyone would know what middle ages was etc so could be complicated.
Jeremy said…
I certainly learnt plenty from giving my first presentation as a student, and from the feedback afterwards. On reflection I'm reasonably pleased that I dared to go to the halfway house between paper-free and having all the words written down. I really didn't know if the words would flow naturally but they did come (I haven't dared to listen to the recording to find out just how successfully they flowed! It felt OK though). I wouldn't dare to rely solely on slides and improv, though. But I could have done with working out my timing better since I dwelt too long on some aspects and had to speed through others.
I learnt too that I could probably have done a better job if I'd split out two aspects that I was trying to convey. Essentially I wanted to relate a narrative of how the project came about, how I came to be doing it, and how my first year and a bit have progressed. I also wanted to convey the subjects and ideas that have preoccupied me and developed over this time. These strands do obviously overlap but I think I muddied the messages by not simply concentrating on one of them. The feedback was really welcome too so thanks to everyone for that.

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