Almost three weeks ago I participated in a webbminar on presentation skills arranged by Forskar Grand Prix (#forskargrandprix). Forskar Grand Prix is a competition where researchers are invited to present their research in a short, simple, and accessible way. The time limit to present your research is 4 minutes.
This is what I took with me from the very interesting webbminar by Anders Sahlman:
- Don’t try to squeeze every detail about your research in the 4 minutes time-slot that is allocated to you. Pick, with care, the most relevant, important, interesting aspects of your research. Remember “the big idea” – what is it that you want the audience to remember once you’ve finished talking? Maybe you want to show that the world is a better place than it was 50 years ago? Or that artificial intelligence is not that “clever” and has human biases?
- Talk about your passion: what is it that makes you wake up each morning to do your research?
- Who will you be presenting for? If the audience is the general public then it is a good idea to imagine that your audience consists of 17 year old high school students. What does a 17 year old student know? If you make sure your presentation can be understandable by 17 year old students, you are pretty likely to make a presentation that is accessible for the majority of the audience.
- Another idea is to frame your presentation in terms of purpose. What is the purpose of your research? What is good for the audience to know?
- Yet another twist is to think about what your results will look like in a perfect world? What new knowledge do you contribute to the world that was not there before you conduct your research?
- “Capture the people’s heart, not their mind”. Storytelling is perfect for this. Start with the problem at hand: what is at stake? Why is it so important that the problem is solved? What are the risks? How does your research contribute to solving the problem?
- Ask yourself: Who/What is affected by your research?
- Avoid focusing on methodology, and avoid using jargons when presenting for the general public.
- Write a script! Know it verbatim, but write the way you talk! Practice! Ask friends/family/colleague to listen to your presentation and ask them to retell what they remember from your presentation.
- Last but not least: don’t forget to time yourself to make sure that you stay within the time limit!
In October I will have my half-time seminar, which I really look forward to! I will definitely think about these presentation techniques when presenting my work. Maria Berge from Umeå University will be my opponent, although perhaps a better word is: half-time advisor, since the focus of the seminar is to help me push my work forward.