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I learned that doing a PhD means you constantly challenge yourself and improve your skills. Let’s be honest, most of us don’t like speaking in public because we all fear to completely embarrass ourselves.
As soon as you have created your plan, work from one step to another without thinking of more than one step at a time. The best thing is to create specific times in your schedule for your talk preparation and stick to them. Knowing your audience and their background has a high impact on the quality and structure of your talk. The amount of introduction required for your field, each technique and each problem will depend on how much the audience knows about your topic. If your audience comes from a broad range of backgrounds you will have to introduce your field of research saying what it is about and why it is important to do research in your field. If most of your audience consists of scientists in your field you can skip introducing it and spend more time on the novelty of your research.
A great speaker gets the attention of the audience very quickly at the beginning with either a personal story or with addressing an issue the audience faces.
Talks can come in different forms: journal club, seminar series, annual society talk, conference talk, even a guest speech at the last wedding you attended is a talk. If you work at a university you will usually find talk announcements in your email newsletter. Collecting ideas in slides can produce a chaotic presentation. Do you want a more organized way to create your slides? Create the slides with the methods that people need to hear to understand how you reached your results. It’s important to check the spelling and make sure you add some details apart from the title, such as institution, your name, your email address and funding sources. Put in your title as many keywords as possible so people can guess what your talk is about. You might be able to understand your data easily but for the audience you are often the expert in your field. It might sound too simple but the best thing is to put only facts on your slides you want to mention during your talk. What you write on your slides should only support what you say and not the other way around. If necessary raise rhetorical questions or ask questions to keep your audience concentrated.
The more complex your topic is the more important is the use of analogies and metaphors instead of jargon definitions.
Use pictures while explaining a difficult topic: A picture is often worth a thousand words.
If you are presenting pictures or figures that are not yours please make sure you cite the source. As a tip: If you want to present data from a paper have a closer look on the website that published the paper.
During talks I often imagine explaining the topic to a child which loses attention rather quickly and thus repetitions in between are necessary to keep up the interest.
Keeping your summaries short also prevents you from overdoing repetitions which might make your presentation boring. This message can take up to 2 slides. During your summary try to avoid repeating too many results and generalise as much as possible. Acknowledgements are important as they show your audience that you don’t take more credit than you should. This doesn’t have to take up too much time and one short sentence for each person is plenty.
Microsoft PowerPoint SmartArt allows you to create flow charts, lists and arrange pictures in an easy and quick way. Luckily there are several things we can do to gain confidence and become a comfortable speaker and to rock our scientific talks. Giving presentations is a stressful situation for most people because after all public speaking is NOT a talent but a learned skill (only practice makes perfect). Giving your talk in front of an audience (your group members) helps to get honest feedback. Learning full sentences often ends up sounding like you are reading from a book and if you forget only a few words you will panic.
If during the presentation some slides don’t show up as they should, don’t panic!


If you are unsure about anything, like the length of time for question, you can ask the chair in advance.
Also, arriving early will give you a chance to get used to the room itself and its surroundings. Your notes but only BEFORE the talk. I tend to repeat some passages in my mind before the talk and not remembering some things can create panic.
Expression of power (body language: You take up the space of the room you are in and basically open up your posture). The feeling of powerless (body language: You close-up, wrap yourself up and make yourself small).
Only 2 minutes of keeping a powerful pose are enough to make your hormone levels switch significantly. Take your time to breath properly in between and don’t rush through the talk as if it is a race. If you are very nervous it might be better to get the talk over and done with and leave the questions until the end. Keep in mind that allowing questions during your talk will make your presentation last longer. While being in a stressful situation we tend to lose track of reality and that’s why we panic because of a lot of minor things. If you can’t look at people directly during your presentation you can look at the horizon line just above the heads. After your talk comes one of the most scary moments for PhD students: Questions and Answers.
Depending on the audience, leave at least 10 minutes for questions at the end of your talk.
If you are too shy looking people directly into the eyes, concentrate on a point between their eyes. This trick of suggesting to discuss further after the talk works like a charm when the person asking gets too pushy.
The time after your talk offers you a good chance to do networking by exchanging contact details, discuss experimental settings or setting up possible collaborations. After the stress is over and the audience is gone, find a moment of quiet and analyse yourself: Which things could you do better the next time? It’s important to create a relationship with your audience by understanding their background and knowing their needs. While presenting, be confident and don’t panic in between because everyone makes mistakes, even the most experiences speakers.
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They are prepared, confident, use their time well, speak clearly and maintain appropriate non-verbal behaviour. Having trained thousands of people from executives to graduates across many multinational companies, Effective Communication is able to recognise the needs of individual businesses plus individual staff members from an objective point of view. This means your entire investment will be returned if we do not complete each step of your 'Learning Process' and or, if you are not satisfied with our service.
If you are the website operator please use the ionCube Loader Wizard to assist with installation. Apart from managing your PhD research project and science writing, you are also faced with the big challenge to present your research to a wider audience by holding scientific talks. You might be showing the highlights of your PhD to 500 people at an international conference.
Don’t worry if these steps seem ridiculously small like choosing your outfit for the talk. In a normal state your mind is full of different emotions and thoughts so writing helps putting your thoughts into a right logical order. What exactly made these talks great? What were the mistakes in awful research presentations? Only by analysing these talks you might already get hints on improving your presentation style.
In these first slides of your talk you motivate the audience to listen, show the importance of your research and explain the choice of methods that will come later in your talk.
If you write everything on your slides and you don’t add anything extra in your speech, why are you giving the talk anyway? Instead, explain the 1st experiment in more detail and while explaining the 2nd experiment concentrate on the differences to the 1st one. So if you have 10 slides including the title page you will probably talk around 10 minutes because you can explain some slides quickly while others need more time. Therefore, it’s again very crucial to know your audience members and their background knowledge.
There, you can often download the specific picture as PowerPoint slide (with references already included).
This type of folder is very useful to find inspiration and you could use slides as templates or re-use them completely. If you don’t have slides of your own yet, ask colleagues for their slides as source of inspiration.
We think they will discover our fears by the tone, or by the accelerated breathing, or by our sweaty foreheads. To transform yourself into a confident speaker you should try to fake it until you finally become it.


As you give your presentation the audience not only listens to you but also analyses your non-verbal communication. You could try to cut your repetitions gradually from one talk to another until you reached a healthy number below 10 times. Let them shoot at the design of the slides, the content, your articulation, your rhythm and anything they think will improve your presentation. After several iterations you will fine-tune your message so it fits in the time you have for your talk. In addition, PowerPoint allows to move to the next slide after the same amount of time you did while practicing at home. Simply tell the audience at the right time about the faulty slide by mentioning what they should see and move on.
Thereby you avoid looking confused and panic during your talk because of unexpected things, such as the chair stopping you to answer questions. It often helps to ease my tension and makes me realize that the audience consists of normal people and not of monsters waiting for my mistakes.
It’s one of the most important presentation skills of PhD students (and any presenter!). Try to find a middle point where you avoid overly dramatic hand gestures or keeping your arms as still as if they are dead. Otherwise you tend to lean your body too much forward, which looks awkward for the audience.
Your audience will recognize this falseness and won’t trust you and your competence very much. If you know you usually talk too fast during talks make the conscious decision to speak slower than it might feel right for you.
Being upfront gives my audience the chance to raise awareness and I won’t get paranoid by questioning myself all the time.
If the chair of the session is strict with the time allotted to each talk you might find yourself out of time before you presented your most interesting findings. This goal is impossible to reach and you will likely start to panic during your talk when you make even minor mistakes, for example miss-spell a word or say a sentence in a wrong order.
This task takes the pressure of being perfect and at the same time it prevents myself from treating the talk lightly. In this way everybody in the audience can hear it and you double-check that you understood it. This might not necessarily mean they are picky, maybe they were simply to shy asking questions in front of others.
I agree, it’s very important to be prepared because people are different and their outlooks can be the opposite of your own opinion. She works extensively with clients on improving aspects such as fluency, articulation, pacing and projection. Supervisors and PI focus mainly on science, not on making the presentation skills of PhD students better. Practice and good advice will turn you from a passing out presenter into the Obama of scientific presentations. The goal is to have a few days to rehearse your talk and change little details in your slides. Editing yourself is always easier than sitting in front of a blank page and trying to come up with perfect ideas. This will help you understand their mindset and see your presentation from their perspective. If you tend to get stiff try to loosen up a bit and if you are often overexcited make an effort to relax. Also, smiling relaxes your body because it goes both ways: We smile when we are happy but when we force ourselves to smile we start feeling happy. If you do have to use a pointer use two hands, one for the pointer and the other one to hold your wrist; this will reduce the shaking.
In contrast, if you tend to speak slower try to speak faster than it feels correct for your own instincts. Susanne believes it is important to educate people from various backgrounds about different aspects of science, such as cutting edge research.
I don’t see the point of using this particular one and alienating (at least some) people in the process.
I present in March (2 weeks) and am very nervous, however will meet up with a friend and go through what I have written so far, thanks to your advice! She is skilled in the honing of presentational and public speaking skills, boosting clients' influence in the boardroom and beyond. Improving the presentation skills can reduce your public speaking anxiety and increase the joy of giving talks.
Its speakers come from different backgrounds and are given up to 20 minutes to describe their projects.
Sometimes you will need to introduce your whole field of research, other times just the narrow problem you are tackling.
For instance, if you want to show that number A is 20% increased versus number B, then use a 20% in green.



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