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The Conference Presentation Lynda Gagne University of Victoria October 2004 Overview Preparing for your presentation Giving your presentation Chairing a session Discussing a paper Concluding comments Preparing for your presentation Knowing your audience Knowing yourself

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The Conference Presentation

Lynda GagneUniversity of Victoria

October 2004


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Overview

  • Preparing for your presentation

  • Giving your presentation

  • Chairing a session

  • Discussing a paper

  • Concluding comments


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Preparing for your presentation

  • Knowing your audience

  • Knowing yourself

  • Knowing your subject

  • Selling your research question

  • Selling your methodology

  • Choosing the right media

  • What to include in your presentation

  • Practicing for your presentation


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Knowing your audience

  • Are the participants experts in your field of study, are they peripherally related to the field, or can you expect some of both groups?

  • How much do you expect participants to know about your research methodology?

  • How much do you expect participants about the policy relevance of your research question?


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Knowing yourself

  • How often have you presented and how much confidence do you have in presenting?

  • What are your weaknesses?

  • How much preparation do you need?


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Knowing your subject

  • What have other people done in your field of study?

  • Do you have a good handle on the literature?

  • What specifically did you do?

  • What data did you use (if any) and what’s the story behind this data?


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Selling your research question

  • Why is your research question interesting?

  • What policy relevance (if any) does it have?


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Selling your methodology

  • What’s innovative about your methodology or your research?

    • Are you using a new method?

    • Are you using a well-accepted method with new data?

    • What differentiates what you have done from what all the other work that has been done in the area?


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Choosing the right media

  • Power Point slides have become a standard in many conference presentations

  • However, in some disciplines, simple transparencies are still the norm


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What to include in your presentation

  • The chair should introduce you

  • Start with a “front” page that includes

    • Title of your presentation

    • Your name and affiliation

    • [Date, name of conference, paper prepared for…]

  • [Your next page should include]

    • Acknowledgement to granters, assistants, etc.

    • [Any required disclaimers]


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What to include in your presentation

  • Introduction

    • Tell the audience what issues you are addressing

    • Place your work in the context of the existing literature

    • Identify your specific research questions


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What to include in your presentation

  • Methods

    • Describe your data (if applicable)

    • In an academic conference, describe your methods in moderate but sufficient detail that listeners would be in a position to criticize your methods (if needed)

    • In a policy conference, use heuristic devices to convey complex methodology


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What to include in your presentation

  • Findings

    • Summarize the key aspects of your findings

    • Use graphs and charts whenever possible or applicable

    • Graphs and charts should be adequately labeled – you may want to test them on others before your conference


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What to include in your presentation

  • Discussion/conclusion

    • Discuss the (policy) implications of your findings

    • Point out the limitations of your research

    • [Make suggestions for further studies]


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Practicing for your presentation

  • Practice giving your presentation to insure that it is the right length – adjust accordingly

  • Practice voice control

  • Learn your materials to remember the order in which they are


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Giving your presentation

  • The presentation

  • Question period


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The presentation

  • Engage your audience

    • Make eye contact

    • Use voice projection

    • Show confidence – the people who took the time to come to your presentation are interested in your work

    • Smile and try to build rapport with light humour (if you’re comfortable with that)


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The presentation

  • The chair will usually defer questions to the end of the presentation

  • If someone interrupts, be friendly and do answer clarification questions

  • Postpone responding to substantive question until the question period


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Question period

  • Thank the people who ask questions (oh yes, very good point, I’ll check into it; oh yes, I did address this, but …)

  • Disarm the obnoxious (active listening, as above)

  • Avoid protracted debates

  • Take notes


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Chairing a Session

  • Chairing a session is often expected of presenters

  • Carefully review the terms of your engagement

  • Contact participants shortly after you receive your assignment to agree on process (or to inform them of the process)


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Chairing a Session

  • Decide on order (presentations, discussants, question periods)

  • Begin the session by describing the process (unless the process is standard)

  • Introduce each section/speaker

  • You are the time and order keeper


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Discussing a paper

  • Often required of conference presenters, or others – usually allotted around five minutes

  • Junior people should accept these assignments, although they are time-consuming, because of the exposure

  • You will need to become sufficiently familiar with the related literature and the paper (ideally you should discuss a paper in your area of research)


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Discussing a paper

  • You enjoyed reading the paper, or you found the paper interesting

  • Brief summary / key points

  • Paper’s contribution to the existing body of knowledge

  • Ideas for extensions or revisions (constructive criticism)


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Concluding comments

  • Attending a conference is an ideal way for academics and students to make useful connections and to communicate their research findings

  • Students will get the opportunity to suitably impress potential employers with their work and presentation skills

  • Don’t forget to bring your business cards!


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