PhD Hack: Tips for Conference Presentations
Within the domain of academia, there lies a rarely spoken of, yet critical skill for researchers, whether student or professor: Conference Presentations. When I was approaching my first conference, I was particularly nervous about the idea of giving a presentation - not just what to say, but what to show on the PowerPoint slides. I put together some guidelines, which I felt helped me give a clear and comprehensible presentation. I hope these guidelines will be useful to anyone else who is approaching their first presentation.
1. - People are going to listen to a lot of presentations during a conference. They aren't going to remember all the facts and figures you throw out - so pick one idea you want them to leave with about your topic, and make sure you state it clearly. Still include the facts and figures - but they're there to support your message.
2. My slides were basically an introduction, outline, page, outline, page, outline, page, outline, conclusion - with a marker to show how I have moved through the outline each time. Not only does this remind you where you are going, it makes it simpler for the viewer to follow the thread of your argument.
3. - I'd say fifteen slides as a maximum, and that's with half of them being the outline. You don't want to be losing track or racing through, and you'll probably only have 15-20 minutes to share your ideas. So make sure you aren't going to have to keep poking the slide changing button.
4. - Mainly, I mean this advice for the slides themselves - they're there to enhance your speech, not to give it. You can include key quotes, key figures, or key words, but don't write out whole chunks of text. The audience will get bored and you'll be repeating yourself pointlessly. But also, don't include too many ideas - you might know the topic inside out, but for most of the audience, this will be new to them (depending on how specialized your audience is). Keep your audience in mind when doing this.