Practical Presentation Techniques (Research Skills C-2)

Mark WEEKS Associate Professor

Department: Institute of Liberal Arts & Sciences

Class Time: 2019 Fall Wednesday
Recommended for: Graduate Students

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Course Aims

This course is directed towards graduate students and researchers in all fields and has the following practical goals:
1. To raise logical drafting and practical delivery skills to a level where your presentations or poster sessions at an international level can be highly effective, low stress, even enjoyable.
2. To produce logically persuasive presentation abstracts, scripts, slides and posters related to your research area that you can use as models for future international "real world" presentations.
3. To raise confidence in general international communication, especially in academic contexts.

Key Features

While helping students to gain confidence in academic communication, this course focuses on building and deliverying presentations that engage the audience with the research itself. A fundamental assumption of this course is that a primary aim of presentations it to gather useful feedback in order to advance research in the field. The challenge, then, is to present the research in a way that makes its aim, significance and credibility unmistakably clear to the audience. This requires careful organization of information: not everything is of equal importance, so difficult editing decisions need to be made.

Following these basic practical principles, the course helps students to develop, experiment with, and even create techniques for clarity and impact. This is applied primarily to oral presentations, but there is also some discussion of poster presentations, as well as analysis of what makes a presentation abstract/proposal successful.

Students are encouraged to be acutely aware of the context in which they are presenting so that they may adapt their material to various types of audience both within and outside their specific research field in the future. It is essential to understand the audience's perspective and the complexity of communicating to people with varied backgrounds. To do so, a certain degree of flexibility is essential.

Classes are conducted in an informal atmosphere with students working in randomized groups, changing each week to maximize communication between researchers across fields. A lot of feedback, from the instructor and fellow students, is given in order to raise communicative awareness.

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Course Schedule

Most lessons include a short interactive lecture. Students discuss issues raised and work together in pairs or small groups, changing partners each week in order to increase communication opportunities. Here is a tentative schedule:

1. Introduction: fundamentals of presenting within and between fields
2. Focusing, organizing research by brief logical summary
3. Preparing presentation abstracts for successful conference acceptance
4. Combining words and images for clear logical flow and audience impact
5. Effective techniques for presenting data and other support
6. 1st presentations
7. 1st presentations
8. 1st presentations
9. Techniques for smooth Q&A and academic interaction
10. Poster presentation merits and techniques
11. Advanced visual design for clarity and impact; Timing issues
12-14. 2nd presentations
15. Course review

* Students give 2 short presentations (8-12 minutes) using their own research or other research material.


Participation 60%
Two presentations 40%
* Students are required to attend a minimum of 10 lessons in order to receive credits for the course.

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Lecture Handouts

Presentation Skills/Techniques (PDF, 4270KB)

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Page last updated August 1, 2019

The class contents were most recently updated on the date indicated. Please be aware that there may be some changes between the most recent year and the current page.

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