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How to Make a Good Scientific Presentation


By Olawale Oluwafemi (Femi), (Nigerian Space Agency) and DeStaerke Danielle (CNES)

The primary objective of every research project is not only about what you discover but also how do you communicate your discoveries to the interested audience. Delivering either a poster or oral presentation at a scientific meeting is not an easy task, but my passionate friend Danielle and I will present tips that will assist GLOBE Students and Teachers to deliver good scientific presentations. 

Plate 1: Femi delivering poster presentation during GLOBE Annual Meeting at Estes Park, Colorado.

First of all, Let us talk about the emotional factors of delivering a presentation either poster or oral.

  1. Feeling at Ease: How to feel at ease before the audience is the chief problem of most people when they take up speaking in public. “How can I get rid of stage fright?” they ask. Actually, nervousness is normal, the fear of being tested, criticized and judged. But you need to control the tension from mounting into panic.
  2. Always be prepared: This is the most important rule for feeling at ease. Being well prepared means thinking, talking and reading about your subject matter. Organizing and rehearsing what you want to say.
  3. Think of your audience as friendly individuals: Inexperienced speakers sometimes think of their audience as a monster, waiting to pick to pieces everything they say or do. So, see your audience as friendly individuals. Remember that the feedback you receive is intended to improve your future performance.

Plate 2: GLOBE students from Thailand presenting a project during GLOBE Annual Meeting at Maryland, USA.

The visual factor is also important, a good posture combines both the command “Attention” and the command “At ease” The speaker will then suggest to the audience that he is both alert and poised. During your presentation stand erect, keep the stomach in, chest in and chin in.

  1. Movement: Begin your talk standing at, or near, the centre of the platform. Move your position with only a purpose. If necessary move forward to emphasize a point, to bring it closer to the audience.
  2. Gesture: Movement of hands, body and face should be meaningful. Good gesture illustrates what is said, strengthening and clarifying it.
  3. Eye Contact: Make sure you have eye contact with your audience. Looking at your audience makes people feel you are interested in them.
  4. Visual Aids: The charts, diagrams or pictures you choose should be large enough to be seen and understood from all parts of the auditorium. If it is poster, stand at one side as you discuss them.
  5. Dress: The most important thing about your dress is that it should be appropriate to the occasion.

Plate 3: GLOBE students presenting research project during GLOBE Annual Meeting at Los Angeles, USA

  1. Developing the Content of your Presentation

Do your best to develop a summary of your work that you can call the Title,  that you can state in 25 words or less for example:

“The Effect of Surface Temperature on Asphalt and Short Grass”

The content of your presentation sometimes should follow the guidelines of a published paper with sections like Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion and Conclusions, Acknowledgements and References.

We recommend that you look to your friends, teachers, and scientists for assistance while developing the content of your presentation.

  1. Preparing your visual aids for an Oral Presentation

The first question that many students ask is how many slides to show. Some experts recommend at least one slide per minute, but this is probably a little slow. We advise that slides especially the graphs of data, which need to be talked about at length can take one minute but other slides like Title page, Presentation Overview among other can take less than one minute.

We recommend that you plan about 20 slides for a 12-minute talk. You must bear in mind each presentation is different and so the best approach will depend upon the material you are presenting.

  1. Text Slides

Text slides can be used effectively in a variety of ways. For example, we recommend that you start your talk with a title slide which includes

  1. Your Name
  2. Your Affiliation
  3. The Logo of your institution can be at the right-hand corner of your slide while the logo of the organizers of the scientific meeting can be at the left-hand corner of your slide
  4. Use very few words. We recommend that you translate statements into bullet statements. For example:
  • SMAP student field campaign is important in the Satellite Validation Process.
  1. Choose the right font. Use a typeface that is easy to read, such as Times New Roman or Arial. We recommend using 1.5 line spacing. Then use a font that is about as large as the slide will accommodate, for example
  • Title lines size 44,
  • Major text 32
  • Minor text 24
  1. Choose the right colour. We recommend using contrasting colours, Please avoid bright yellow as a background. It is blinding for everyone.
  2. Graphic Images: Graphic Images can be helpful in all stages of the presentation. Graphics are most important in the Results section using Bar graphs, Line graphs, Pie charts and Scatter charts. Your graphics should be clear and concise for example:

            Figure 1: Showing Ratio of Water in the Soil.

Lastly, your conclusion and findings should be brief and meaningful. We hope that these tips will be helpful in your presentation.

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The article is really helpful! Thank you for posting, Femi.

Posted on 7/1/18 9:21 AM.

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