How to Present a Research Paper | Academic Conference Edition
So you’ve just secured a speaking slot at an academic conference and are getting ready for your presentation. Congrats! However, securing a speaker slot is hard enough; now, you have to turn that fantastic research paper into an even more fantastic presentation.
There are many benefits to presenting your research at an academic conference. You can establish your credibility in the field, meet experts, researchers, editors, and other stakeholders and share your work and talk about what you do with others.
Too much pressure?
Don’t worry; you’ll learn about all the key elements you need to include in your presentation and the dos and don’ts of presenting at a conference in this article.
Key Elements to Include in Your Presentation
You already know that a conference presentation introduces a research paper or discussion topic. A good conference presentation delivers this information in a clear, concise, and interesting way to trigger discussion, curiosity, and interest from the audience. Ensure you have a good presentation by keeping the following things in mind:
- Write a detailed outline (with a thesis, main arguments, and supporting evidence) and come well-prepared (practice, practice, practice)
- Introduce the topic or research
- Talk about your sources and methods used
- Indicate whether there are conflicting views about your topic or research to trigger discussion
- Make a statement about your results
- Use visuals, handouts, slides, or any other presentation tools to your advantage.
Remember, you must address or briefly touch on your finished paper’s main points or arguments during your presentation. Don’t skip entire sections of your research. See more dos and don’ts below.
Dos and Don’ts of Presenting Your Paper at a Conference
1. Understand the Presentation Requirements
You must first understand your audience to understand the presentation requirements better. Understanding your audience will help you present your work in a way that is relatable and exciting to them. Do your research on the conference criteria and your audience demographics.
Remember, the audience members may not be experts in your field, so make sure you provide adequate background information and any associated facts or data during your presentation. The presented data should answer any research questions you have previously asked in your paper. Consider also contacting other speakers to understand what topics are being covered.
Next, you must ensure any audiovisual tech you need for your presentation will be up and running. Ask the conference producer important questions (if they haven’t told you already), such as:
- Will you speak through a microphone, and if so, which kind (gooseneck, lavalier, wireless)?
- How far away will audience members be able to see (good to know for slide and visual creation)?
- Suppose the conference uses projection stands, equipment, or remote controls that you haven’t used before. Will it take long to familiarize yourself with them (especially good to know if you need to arrive at the conference much earlier)?
- What kind of projector or another tech will be available, and what files can you use for your presentation?
Lastly, you’ll want to know your time limit for the presentation. A typical speaking slot is anywhere from five to ten minutes, with an additional five minutes for questions and answers. Find out from the conference producer and ensure you stick to that (especially while practicing to make it easier for the day of the presentation).
2. Include a Hook and CTA
An engaging introduction and conclusion are just as vital in your paper as in your presentation. Think about how you’ll hook the audience into your presentation and what they’ll leave with (key quotes or takeaways). Don’t forget about a call to action (CTA) at the end; what will the audience members do after watching your presentation?
3. Create a Visual Design
If you’re creating visuals (slideshow, PowerPoint, etc.), ensure all audience members towards the back can clearly see the visuals, and don’t overwhelm them with too many. Additionally, remember that the slides and visuals are there to help your presentation, not replace it. Keep the following tricks in mind for slide creation:
- Keep text to a minimum (only the main talking points)
- Use bullet points as necessary to support your main points
- Choose appropriate fonts and backgrounds (ensure fonts are easy-to-read and straightforward and be aware of background color in contrast with font colors)
- Choose relevant, high-quality images (but you don’t need to include images on each slide).
1. Don't Wing Your Presentation
Your presentation format should look something like this:
- Title (1 slide)
- Research topic and question (1 slide)
- Research Methods (1 slide)
- Data Collected (3-5 slides)
- Research Findings (1-2 slides)
- Implications (1 slide)
- Conclusions (1 slide).
Remember not to simply read off what you wrote in your paper; your presentation should be brief and concise, with only the main talking points. You’re not reading; you’re presenting. Ensure you don’t use present tense when describing results, only past tense. Additionally, don’t use complicated graphs or charts, or distracting colors, shapes, patterns, etc., on the slides.
2. Don’t Look Unprofessional
First impressions matter, especially if this is the first time you’re presenting a paper at a conference. Before you actually present, you want to ensure you’re presentable. Think about your presentation wardrobe. While you may think it’s too early, remembers that you will only have a few seconds or minutes to make a good first impression on your audience.
Additionally, be active and engaging while presenting. Don’t have your hands in your pockets, don’t look down too often, and don’t read your presentation word-for-word from your notes. If you look bored, there’s a high chance that your audience will be bored too.
3. Don't Skip Out on Practicing Your Presentation
Practice your presentation in advance. Learn it inside and out. Practice in front of a mirror while timing yourself. Practice runs are a great way to work on your timing and presentation skills. You want to practice your presentation at least ten times.
To get as close to the real thing as possible, you have to practice your presentation in front of an audience too. You can ask a few friends or colleagues to listen and watch your presentation and give you feedback. In this way, you’ll be able to make any final tweaks to your content before conference presentation day.
Additionally, encourage your listeners to ask questions, as this can prepare you for the Q&A on conference day. Jot down a few answers to common questions within your notes in case they come up again from conference audience members.
Orvium Helps You Stay On Task
Presenting a paper at a conference is a special thing in a researcher’s life, regardless of the presentation jitters you may have. Remember that you must understand the presentation requirements, including a hook and call to action, and create a visual design. Try avoiding the don’ts, and most importantly, don’t forget to practice.
Orvium understands that sometimes it may be hard to find reviewers to listen to your presentation. That’s why we invite everyone to collaborate on our open platform. You can find fellow researchers, publishers, and reviewers and form communities with like-minded people from different disciplines to set you up for success.
We also put together a Full Guide to Planning an Academic Conference to help you with any other conference questions you may have.
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