Student Resources

At ScholarBridge, we are not only here to facilitate the process of finding a research position, we want to help with all aspects of your research experience. On this page you will find helpful tips in applying for a position, working as a research assistant and producing valuable output from your hard work.

Presentation Skills

The ability to effectively communicate your findings is an essential element of a quality researcher. Presenting to large groups, especially groups of field experts, academics, and unfamiliar faces, can be a daunting task. Many people struggle with presenting their work, yet presentation skills grow in importance as you advance through the education system, search for employment, and engage in higher-level research. The following tips will help you project confidence and calm during your next presentation:

Prepare and rehearse

There is no substitute for thorough preparation and rehearsal.

Time yourself as you practice to ensure you do not race through your presentation.

Practicing your presentation will help you feel as if you’ve “been there before” when the big day finally arrives. Thorough preparation allows you to have time to reflect and evaluate the effectiveness of your presentation’s structure and flow.

Arrive early

Technical difficulties are an unfortunate reality and may occur. To avoid letting a technical issue derail your whole presentation, arrive at least a half hour in advance to test your slides, visuals and sound. Store your presentation on a backup drive in case an original plan does not work.

Use your nervous energy to your advantage

How do superstar athletes, CEO’s, TV personalities, and large audience lecturers beat their nerves? By embracing their nervous energy instead of fighting it. It is perfectly natural to get nervous when speaking to large groups, and remembering this can help you harness your feelings of nervousness. Viewing your feelings of nervousness as a productive form of energy allows you to present capably without fighting your natural reaction to addressing a crowd.

Make eye contact with your peers

Looking out at the crowd can be hard as it forces the presenter to confront the scale of their audience. But by looking into the faces of your peers, you communicate your expertise in the subject you are presenting.

Try to make eye contact with individuals, without staring at one person for more than a few seconds.

Vary the tone and volume of your voice

Nobody wants to sit through an extended presentation of a monotone speaker. In order to keep your audience engaged you must sound engaged. An easy way to do this is by speaking animatedly: slow down when explaining the most important details of your research, pause to emphasize important points, and raise your volume when discussing your conclusions. This will give the audience the impression that you are excited to discuss your subject, and they will be more attentive as a result.

Stand up and move around

When presenting, it is tempting to stay in one spot, especially when presenting from a stage or podium. Doing so will give your audience the impression that you are not engaged or passionate about your subject.

Moving around in a controlled manner can help channel your nervous energy and retain the attention of your audience.

Avoid reading off your slides

The words on your slides are for the benefit of your audience, not to serve as a script for your presentation. Reading the screen will also turn your head and body away from the audience, which is something to avoid while speaking to a group.

Answers all questions briefly

Often times an audience member may have a question that you do not feel fully equipped to answer. Instead of struggling for the right words and rambling on, answer all questions briefly and honestly.

If you don’t have an answer then simply state that. It is better to be honest than to make something up on the spot. If you need a second to gather your thoughts, restate the question or thank the individual for asking it.

Enjoy the moment

It is a rare opportunity to present to a large group of your peers as an expert on a subject. Enjoy the chance to speak with authority, display your knowledge, and demonstrate your hard work.

Have something to add to this list? Let us know! Want more? Read this guide from the University of Kentucky Office of Undergraduate Research on effective research presentation techniques.