The Chemist: Presentations 101

Hey everyone! I hope you all are having good weeks. Did you get our newsletter yet? If not, shoot us a tweet @MacScientists and we’ll send one your way! This week we’re giving tips on how to give a presentation. Now I’m in graduate school, so I’m always giving presentations whether it be at a conference, for a class, or for group meetings. So if this is something you struggle with then hopefully these tips help.

Make an outline.

This goes for making the actual slides and for the talking portion of your presentation. Outlining helps you organize your thoughts. It's a way to see what information you're going to give and the order that you're going to give it. One of the good things about outlines is that you can change them. If you're making the slides and mapping out your talk and realize something doesn't make sense, just change it on the outline. Writing things down also makes sure you don't forget your train of thought. I tend to work on presentations for multiple days, so if I write down my game plan in the "Notes" part of PowerPoint so I know what I planning to say next.

Don’t crowd your slides.

This is for the presentation slides themselves. If you crowd the slides with too much information, no one is going to pay attention to what you're saying. You want to use a good balance of visuals and text. Consider making flow charts for some of your text too! That's always a good alternative and you can make it pretty! Have other people look at the slides to make sure they're good and they can follow what's going on.

Know your audience.

Pay major attention to this, especially if you have to give similar presentations for different venues. Knowing your audience is important because it helps you focus your presentation. If you're giving a talk to people in your field, then you can be very technical and focus on the implications and applications of your work. If you're giving a presentation to a general audience, then it's probably better to explain the basics and give general overviews of your work.

Practice. Practice. Practice.

This is the most important tip! Practice really does make perfect. If you have a time limit, practicing multiple times helps you keep your timing. For presentations that have a Q&A, practice in front of multiple groups of people to get a sense of the types of questions you'd receive. Practice helps you familiarize yourself with the information as well. Yes you know it, but giving a talk means you have to be able to convey the information effectively.

What are some of your presentation tips? Tweet me!

-The Chemist

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