1/08/2018 – Post by Monash ICUR Student Director Peter Halat

Semester 2 has begun, which means that ICUR is fast approaching. There are many reasons to get excited for ICUR: the chance to learn about research outside of your field, the ability to meet other passionate students and to practice some important employability skills such as public speaking.

Standing in between now and the wonderful two day experience of ICUR is the process of creating, tweaking and practising your own presentation. While this can be a daunting task, there is still plenty of time.

Tip: Don’t forget your audience

The main thing to keep in mind about presenting your research at ICUR is the audience. While the audience at ICUR is very attentive and supportive, they will not be familiar with your sort of research. Therefore, you should aim to make your research as accessible as possible. No matter which stage of research you are at, you can always construct a story to make your research appreciable to a broad audience. Think about how you would explain the applications and importance of your work to your family and friends (you probably won’t be able to use much jargon). There is undoubtedly something new and/or unique about your research, which you should emphasise to lock in your audience’s attention.

The importance of your research can also link well into your methodology. Make it clear how you have, or will, conduct the research and how this is contributes to the literature.

Then there is the matter of presenting results. Again, it’s not best to use too much jargon here, so try to simplify your results by explaining their importance. By linking back to your earlier hook with your results, you will keep the audience engaged. Make your powerpoint slides visually appealing (but not distracting) and use them to highlight the main points of your presentation. Use a consistent visual theme to link together segments of your presentation. Often the process of making a powerpoint forces you to start thinking about the broad structure of your speech. You can also subtly communicate with your audience through a powerpoint slide, and incorporate some humour to keep your audience engaged. Even if your research is still in progress, starting on a powerpoint presentation can allow you to identify what sort of results would fit best, given the story and methodology of your research.

Tip: Practice in front of friends and family

While it is good to spend time creating vibrant slides, the best way to see how you’re going is to practice presenting. The process of getting up and giving it a go forces you to create some finer sentence structure in your speech, which might not have been clear in your mind when you prepared slides. Make sure to time your practices, and use each rehearsal constructively. You may find that you have prepared too many slides for your presentation. Instead of deleting extra slides, keep them handy for question time, where they may become useful. Every time you practice the more confident and prepared you will feel. Another advantage of practicing is the chance to adjust your speaking posture and hone in on some nice hand gestures to complement your talk.  

With enough preparation and practice, standing up and presenting at ICUR will become and incredibly fun and rewarding experience!