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How to... give a research presentation

Options:     Print Version - How to... give a research presentation, part 4 Print view

Giving the presentation

If you are well prepared, that's over half the battle. On this page we'll look at a few things you need to remember on the day, including body language and dress.

On the day


Arrive early at the venue, to check out the room, equipment etc.

  • Check that the lighting is adequate – is the room sufficiently dark/bright? Can you alter the lighting by drawing blinds etc.? (Ensure that closing the latter will not mean that you also shut out air, which may cause your audience to go to sleep!)
  • Does the sound card work, and is the quality of the sound OK? If you are using a microphone, test that.
  • Check for any potential problems with "dead" areas of the room, e.g. where visibility may be poor due to no overhead light, furniture in the way etc.
  • Set up the USB memory stick to run from the computer, or connect your laptop to the projector, and make sure you are comfortable with running through the slides.
  • If you have requested a whiteboard and markers, are they there and in an appropriate place?


Image: tick Do:

  • Take deep breaths before you begin – this will help calm any nerves.
  • Acknowledge other people's part in the research.
  • Be enthusiastic – enthusiasm is infectious, as is your energy.
  • Talk at a moderate pace, don't rush, and keep your voice at normal volume.
  • Talk rather than read from a script.

Image: cross Don't:

  • Rush the presentation – if you have properly rehearsed then you should have got the timing right, and you should know which areas you can leave out if short of time.
  • Stand in such a position that you obscure the screen.
  • Stand with your back to the audience.
  • Betray any sign of boredom, or nerves, or tiredness.
  • Read from a script (unless your first language is not English, in which case make sure that you look up often).
  • Make jokes – you may be too nervous to carry them off, it can be devastating if the audience doesn't laugh.

Body language and appearance

Image: tick Do:

  • Dress well, but avoid flamboyant clothes. Business dress is usually a suit in a fairly sober colour for both men and women.
  • Maintain eye contact with the audience.
  • Make your body movements quiet and natural; some hand movements are OK, but avoid wild gesticulations!

Image: cross Don't:

  • Dress casually, or in academic "grunge".
  • Employ exaggerated body language.
  • Stand with your hands in your pockets.
  • Fumble with change in your pockets, bite your nails, or twiddle your hair. If you have habits like these, practise NOT doing these things while presenting, as they can be VERY distracting.

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