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Presentations: Oral Presentations

Oral Presentations Purpose

An Oral Research Presentation is meant to showcase your research findings. A successful oral research presentation should: communicate the importance of your research; clearly state your findings and the analysis of those findings; prompt discussion between researcher and audience.  Below you will find information on how to create and give a successful oral presentation.  

Creating an Effective Presentation

Who has a harder job the speaker? Or, the audience?

Most people think speaker has the hardest job during an oral presentation, because they are having to stand up in a room full of people and give a presentation. However, if the speaker is not engaging and if the material is way outside of the audiences knowledge level, the audience can have a difficult job as well. Below you will find some tips on how to be an effective presenter and how to engage with your audience.

 

Organization of a Presentation 

Introduction/Beginning

How are you going to begin?  How are you going to get the attention of your audience? You need to take the time and think about how you are going to get started!

Here are some ways you could start:

  • Ask the audience a question
  • make a statement
  • show them something

No matter how you start your presentation it needs to relate to your research and capture the audiences attention.  

Preview what you are going to discuss.  Audiences do not like to be manipulated or tricked. Tell the audience exactly what you are going to discuss, this will help them follow along.  *Do not say you are going to cover three points and then try to cover 8 points.

At the end of your introduction, the audience should feel like they know exactly what you are going to  discuss and exactly how you are going to get there.  

Body/Middle

Conclusion/End

Delivery and Communication

Eye Contact

Making eye contact is a great way to engage with your audience.  Eye contact should be no longer than 2-3 seconds per person.  Eye contact for much longer than that can begin to make the audience member feel uncomfortable.

Smile

Smiling lets attendees know you are happy to be there and that you are excited to talk with them about your project.

Posture

We all know that body language says a lot, so here are some things you should remember when giving your presentation.

  • Stand with both feet on the floor, not with one foot crossed over the other. 
  • Do not stand with your hands in your pockets, or with your arms crossed.
  • Stand tall with confidence and own your space (remember you are the expert).  

Abbreviated Notes

Having a written set of notes or key points that you want to address can help prevent you from reading the poster. 

Speak Clearly

Sometimes when we get nervous we begin to talk fast and blur our words.  It is important that you make sure every word is distinct and clear. A great way to practice your speech is to say tongue twisters. 

Ten tiny tots tottered toward the shore

Literally literary. Literally literary.  Literally literary.

Sally soon saw that she should sew some sheets.

Avoid Fillers

Occasionally we pick up fillers that we are not aware of, such as um, like, well, etc. One way to get rid of fillers is to have a friend listen to your speech and every time you say a "filler" have that friend tap you on the arm or say your name.  This will bring the filler to light, then you can practice avoiding that filler.

Manage Anxiety

Many people get nervous when they are about to speak to a crowd of people.  Below are ways that you can manage your anxiety levels. 

  • Practice, Practice, Practice - the more prepared you are the less nervous you will be.
  • Recognize that anxiety is just a big shot of adrenalin.
  • Take deep breaths before your presentation to calm you down. 

Components of an Oral Research Presentation

Introduction

The introduction section of your oral presentation should consist of 3 main parts.  

Part 1: Existing facts

In order to give audience members the "full picture", you first need to provide them with information about past research.  What facts already exist? What is already known about your research area?

Part 2: Shortcomings

Once you have highlighted past research and existing facts. You now need to address what is left to be known, or what shortcomings exist within the current information.  This should set the groundwork for your experiment.  Keep in mind, how does your research fill these gaps or help address these questions? 

Part 3: Purpose or Hypothesis

After you have addressed past/current research and have identified shortcomings/gaps, it is now time to address your research.  During this portion of the introduction you need to tell viewers why you are conducting your research experiement/study, and what you hope to accomplish by doing so. 

Methods

In this section you should share with your audience how you went about collecting and analyzing your data

Should include:

  • Participants: Who or what was in the study?
  • Materials/ measurements: what did you measure?
  • Procedures: How did you do the study?
  • Data-analysis: What analysis were conducted? 

Results

This section contains FACTS – with no opinion, commentary or interpretation. Graphs, charts and images can be used to display data in a clear and organized way.  

Keep in mind when making figures:

  • Make sure axis, treatments, and data sets are clearly labeled
  • Strive for simplicity, especially in figure titles. 
  • Know when to use what kind of graph
  • Be careful with colors.

Discussion

Interpretation and commentary takes place here. This section should give a clear summary of your findings. 

You should:

  • Address the positive and negative aspects of you research
  • Discuss how and if your research question was answered. 
  • Highlight the novel and important findings
  • Speculate on what could be occurring in your system 

Future Research

Not all presentations will have this section
 
If included this section should:
  • State your goals
  • Include information about why you believe research should go in the direction you are proposing
  • Discuss briefly how you plan to implement the research goals, if you chose to do so.  

References

Include key references that you found during the literature review process (3-5 references). Be sure these references are in the proper format for the field. 

Why include References?

  • It allows viewers to locate the material that you used, and can help viewers expand their knowledge of your research topic.  
  • Indicates that you have conducted a thorough review of the literature and conducted your research from an informed perspective.
  • Guards you against intellectual theft.  Ideas are considered intellectual property failure to cite someone's ideas can have serious consequences. 

Acknowledgements

This section is used to thank the people, programs and funding agencies that allowed you to perform your research.

Questions 

Allow for about 2-3 minutes at the end of your presentation for questions. 

It is important to be prepared. 

  • Know why you conducted the study
  • Be prepared to answer questions about why you chose a specific methodology

If you DO NOT know the answer to a question

◦DO NOT make up information 

Visual Aids

PowerPoints and other visual aids can be used to support what you are presenting about.

Power Point Slides and other visual aids can help support your presentation, however there are some things you should consider: 

  • Do not overdo it. One big mistake that presenters make is they have  a slide for every single item they want to say. One way you can avoid this is by writing your presentation in Word first, instead of making a Power Point Presentation. By doing this you can type exactly what you want to say, and once your presentation is complete, you can create Power Point slides that help support your presentation. ​

Formula for number of visual aids: Length of presentation divided by 2 plus 1

example: 12 minute presentation should have no more than 7 slides.

  • Use visual aids as support.  Things to ask yourself about your slides:  
    • Does it add interest? 
    • Does it prove? 
    • Does it clarify?
  • Do not read the text. Most people can read, and if they have the option of reading material themselves versus listen to you read it, they are going to read it themselves and then your voice becomes an annoyance. Also, when you are reading the text you are probably not engaging with the audience. 
  • Limit the amount of text. People can actually understand what you are trying to say without you writing out every word. 
    • No more than 4-6 lines on a slide and no more than 4-6 words in a line.
    • People should be able to read your slide in 6 seconds.