Hello there bloggies! Welcome to Trainee Tuesday!

As I mentioned a few posts ago (check it out here if interested), I will be attending the International Society of Thrombosis and Haemostatsis in Toronto in a couple weeks. I have the fantastic opportunity to give a talk on one of my research projects I’ve been working on during my postdoc. While it is a privilege to present my work, it is still incredibly unnerving having to present my work in front of such a large group of experts even after years of doing so.

With that in mind, here are a few tips I’ve picked up the past few years in giving a presentation. These can be useful whether you are giving a talk at a major conference, a work in progress for your department, or even just lab meeting.

Identify the messages you want to deliver

Before you even start making your slides, you need to ask yourself a very important question. What key points do you want the audience to walk away with after the presentation? You should identify 2-3 main ideas to convey to the audience. With your background, slides, results, and conclusions, you should focus on these key points. Focusing on these messages will organize your thoughts and make for a clearer presentation.

Know your audience

Whenever you give a talk you want to know who the heck you are talking to. Are they fellow researchers, clinicians, or a lay audience? Do they work in your area of research or do they work in another field? You don’t want to be talking at a level way over or way under the audience’s background. Tailor your talk to the audience so you can actually have a meaningful conversation with them.

Don’t jam your slides with every piece of information you’ve ever though of

You know what is not a fun experience? Sitting in the audience of a talk trying to process and interpret a deluge of figures, tables, and text as a presenter flies through his or her slides. Although there are scores of tables and figures you’ve created during your experiments and analyses, you must select the most important ones that illustrate the key points you want to convey to the audience (see above!). Take the time to walk the audience through your figures, tables, and results. And for goodness sake, make the text and figures on your slides readable!

Don’t over-script your talk

It is important to have a solid idea of what you want to say for each slide and how you want to connect each of your slides together. But, you don’t want to simply memorize a script of what you want to say. Unless you are Meryl Streep of science, you end up sounding like a robot and boring your audience. Outline your talk. I tend to make a much more detailed outline of the first few slides to help develop flow and build some confidence. Remember this also; your slides aren’t just there to help your audience understand what you are saying. You can also use them as cues to remind yourself of more specific points you want to hammer home.

Slow down buddy

No matter who you are and how many talks you have given; you are probably talking too quickly. Be aware of it. Slow down. Take a breath. It’s easier said then done, but being aware of it is half the battle.

Inject a little personality and have fun with it!

Of course, your audience is evaluating the quality of the research you are presenting. However, an audience is more likely to positively remember and discuss a presentation with a little personality than a really boring one. Inject a little fun and humor into your talk. Use an anecdote from the lab work behind the results and show some enthusiasm up on stage. It is amazing how the mood of a speaker can spread down to the audience.

Thank you all for stopping by Trainee Tuesday! What tips do you have when preparing and giving a presentation? Share them below in the comments or on twitter @DrFsThoughts.

See you tomorrow for some wishes on Wednesday!

-Dr. F

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