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How to Present an Academic Paper Dr Richard Rayne Birkbeck, University of London School of Biological & Chemical Sciences Presented 24th.

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Presentation on theme: "How to Present an Academic Paper Dr Richard Rayne Birkbeck, University of London School of Biological & Chemical Sciences Presented 24th."— Presentation transcript:

1 How to Present an Academic Paper Dr Richard Rayne Birkbeck, University of London School of Biological & Chemical Sciences Presented 24th May 2005 at the College Research School Generic Skills Workshop

2 Sources (1) The Oceanography Society (1995). Tips for Preparing Scientific Presentations. [Online]. Available: [Accessed 28 May 2005]. –An unexpected source, but the above is an excellent, comprehensive resource. It focuses on scientific talks, but many of the principles are universal. Radel, J (2004). Effective Presentations. [Online]. Available: [Accessed 28 May 2005]. –Science orientation, comprehensive; includes posters. Hill, MD (1997). Oral Presentation Advice. [Online]. Available: [Accessed 28 May 2005]. –Science orientation; concise. Includes a humourous piece, How to Give a Bad Talk.

3 Sources (2) Edwards, PN (2004) How to Give a Talk: Changing the Culture of Academic Public Speaking. [Online]. Available: [Accessed 28 May 2005]. –A useful, concise guide; available as a PDF. Tyrell, M (2005). Public Speaking (Or How to Enjoy Presentations). [Online]. Available: [Accessed 28 May 2005]. –More general than the other sources. Some useful nuggets.

4 FEAR! People say public speaking is the number one fear –Death is 6th! "The human brain starts working the moment you are born and never stops until you stand up to speak in public. –George Jessel –see: The Oceanography Society (1995)

5 What to be afraid of? someone in the room who knows more than you forgetting what you were, um… having to run screaming from the room presentation so awful and embarassing that your social/career relationships are forever ruined impossible to answer question from Hell –See:

6 Combat the Fear: Plan Well Know your audience Think about your rhetorical goals Develop a clear message Deliver your message effectively Practice Practice!

7 Know Your Audience (1) Who are you addressing? –experts in your narrow area –experts in the general area –others How many? Friendly or hostile?

8 Know Your Audience (2) What is the format? –seminar discussion? –formal talk? How much time is allotted? Where are you in the programme?

9 ::: Practical Advice ::: Know Your Audience Design the talk to address the most important constituency –Good if you can pitch the bulk of the talk to the experts, but keep the interest of others via the intro and summary –Anticipate questions Know the format and plan accordingly –technological issues? Use the allotted time, but NEVER exceed it!

10 Rhetorical Goals What do you want your audience to take away? –is the talk simply disseminatory? is it an advertisement? –is there an accompanying paper or poster?

11 ::: Practical Advice ::: Rhetorical Goals Take account of your intended outcome and plan accordingly –are you preaching to the converted? trying to persuade? looking for a job? When a paper or poster accompanies the talk… –a sensible goal is to whet the appetite of the audience to read the paper/see the poster(s), not to simply mimic these

12 Develop a Clear Message What are the 2 or 3 key points you really want people to remember? Dont forget: –listeners get only one chance to hear your talk! –they might be hearing MANY talks on the same day –they might not be able to ask a question

13 ::: Practical Advice ::: Develop a Clear Message Compose a sharply focused, jargon-free intro sentence (or two) that you know by heart –make this the first thing you say Compose a sharply focused, memorable summary sentence (or two) that you know by heart –make this the last thing you say

14 ::: Practical Advice ::: Develop a Clear Message Be a little repetitive –Tell them what youre going to tell them (Forecast) –Tell them (Just do it!) –Tell them what you told them (Summary)

15 Deliver Your Message Effectively What are the elements of an effective presentation? Practical considerations: How do I execute a good presentation?

16 Effective Presentations An effective talk must: –Communicate your arguments and evidence –Persuade your audience that they are true –Be interesting and entertaining –see: Edwards (2004)

17 Entertaining? Alternative definition: –keeping the audience interested and involved Expect the audience to be tired and cranky… –Help them keep their focus!

18 ::: Practical Advice ::: Deliver Your Message Effectively Modulate your voice –conversational tone; loud and clear Engage the audience –Dont stare at your notes or your slides Be self-aware –Please dont: wave arms about, tap foot, zap the audience with a laser…

19 ::: Practical Advice ::: Deliver Your Message Effectively Watch your pace… –…slower than normal conversation Hone the transitions –help the audience follow links from one topic to the next –clearly introduce each topic/slide

20 ::: Practical Advice ::: Deliver Your Message Effectively Visuals –legible, no eye tests –dont obscure the slide by standing in front of it –avoid garish/bizarre slide formats –avoid information overload not too many visuals limit the quantity of information on each

21 Practice! The 2nd hardest part…after actually doing it!

22 ::: Practical Advice ::: Practice! Practice LOTS! –to be extra-cruel, videotape yourself and WATCH it--ugh!! Use realistic conditions –...in so far as this is possible! –similar venue –employ an audience

23 On the day Making sure all the planning pays off…

24 ::: Practical Advice ::: On the day Check the venue in advance –know how any a/v controls, microphones, etc work –know who will be there to help Try to relax before you speak –try to find a private place, if possible

25 ::: Practical Advice ::: On the day Dealing with questions –re-state the question –be sure you understand the intent –dont be evasive If you dont know the answer, say so! –dont lose your cool!

26 Is the fear gone…? A little adrenaline can be a good thing: –makes you get down and do it! –energises your talk So, dont erase the fear--tame it!


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