Attending a conference is a great opportunity to meet new people, break out of your industry bubble, and get a feel for what’s going on in your field. And if you’re the one presenting, it can be an exciting way to show the industry what you have to offer.
To make the most of your presentation, you need a well-written paper. You don’t have to be a professional writer to have a good paper to present though. Just follow these guidelines, and you should be able to get your message across while keeping your audience engaged.
Don’t try to impress people with your dazzling use of the English language. Besides this being a turn-off for many, unnecessarily dense language obscures the core message you want to get across. Use simple, easy to understand words that clearly and concisely communicate your point. And try to use as natural language as possible, so that you can address your audience in a relaxed, relatable manner.
There is a grey area with the use of jargon though. Because you would be addressing your peers, it stands to reason that they would be familiar with some of the jargon you use. However, where you can, err on the side of easy-to-grasp concepts rather than obscure terminology.
Keep it interesting
People like to hear stories. So where ever you can, use real-life experiences or anecdotes to illustrate a point. This paints a picture in your audience members’ minds, helping them to more easily relate to what you’re saying. Also, use interesting metaphors and allegories to clarify your concepts, especially those that may be new or complicated.
Find your focus points
Don’t try to say a lot. Rather concentrate on making a core message come across clearly, without less valuable fluff obscuring it. So don’t assume that a well-written presentation must be jam-packed with facts, points, statistics and ideas. Find the focus points of your central message, and make sure that’s the thing coming strongly through your paper.
Anticipate your audience
Anticipate the questions and concerns that your audience might have, so that you can make allowances for them in your paper. To be able to do this, you need to know your audience. Do your research and find out what’s on people’s minds. For instance, if you’re presenting at oil shows, know what’s relevant in the oil industry in general. Even if it’s not relevant to your particular sphere of research, it very well may be to many other attendees.
Keep to the right length
It’s very important that you watch your time. You should be informed well before the conference how much time you will have allotted for your presentation and the question and answer session afterwards. Don’t cut short your Q and A time to make your speech longer. Practice at home and time yourself so you know if your presentation needs cutting.
Tell a story
And finally, remember that you’re telling a story. In other words your paper should have a well-structured narrative that ideally has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Or in other words an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. In your beginning, introduce what is about to come. In other words, outline your argument or message, what your main points are going to be, and why this is relevant. In your body, address everything you said you were going to in your introduction. Don’t veer off course, otherwise you might lose your audience. Make sure all your points relate back to your central argument or message. In you conclusion, make a sum up of what your body addressed, and make sure your conclusion neatly mirrors your introduction.
If you adhere to these simple guidelines, you should be able to write a presentation that is clear, concise, effective, and ultimately, engaging.
About the Author: Queenie Bates is a freelance writer currently based in Cape Town, South Africa, where she lives with her partner and beloved Great Danes. While studying, she had the opportunity to present academic papers at the Postgrad Philosophy Association (PPA) conferences.