Presenting a paper at an academic conference is an important part of being a PhD student. Not only will the interaction with your audience help you to see things from different perspectives, you may also get valuable feedback on the cogency and coherence of your arguments. Being competent at presenting a paper is also a useful transferable skill that will enhance your cv. In this article, I will set out some tips that should help you to deliver a good presentation.
- Giving a good presentation requires confidence, both in your argument and your ability to present it. You can increase your confidence by rehearsing your presentation, both alone and with an audience.
- Make a prompt sheet or cards. It is better to avoid reading from a pre-written speech, which is generally a tedious experience for you and anyone listening. Instead, you should be sufficiently familiar with your paper to only need the occasional prompt.
- Practice speaking in a lecture theatre to a friend sitting at the back of the hall. This will help you with learning how to project your voice so that everyone can hear you. Most large halls will be equipped with a microphone and speakers, but these can be faulty.
- Consider using a visual tool, such as a slide presentation (e.g. Powerpoint). This tool can help illustrate your talk and provide listeners with additional information.
- Make sure your talk has the standard structure of: introduction; argument; and conclusion.
- Practice the timing of your presentation so that you are not cut short by the allotted time limit.
- When nervous, most people tend to speak quickly. Consciously speak more slowly than you would in ordinary conversation and add short pauses between important points. This will help your audience understand your argument.
- Most conferences allow a short period for questions. Try to anticipate these and think of a response in advance.
- Dress appropriately for the conference.
If you need additional help, the PhD Consultancy can provide you with a comprehensive support service for conference presentations.