Planning your presentation
There are many ways to structure your presentation. The following structure is suggested in the TEDx Speakers Guide.
Whatever structure you decide on, remember:
- The primary goal of your talk is to communicate an idea effectively, not to tell a story or to evoke emotions. These are tools, not an end in themselves.
- Your structure should be invisible to the audience. In other words, don’t talk about how you’re going to talk about your topic – just talk about it!
Start by writing a script with an Introduction, Body and Conclusion.
- A strong introduction is crucial.
- Engage your audience with something they care about. If it’s a topic they never think about, start off by mentioning something they do think about a lot and relate that concept to your idea.
- Get your idea out as quickly as possible.
- Don’t focus too much on yourself.
- Don’t open with a string of stats.
This is where you present your topic and provide supporting evidence:
- Make a list of all the points you want to make: Think about what your audience probably already knows about and the things you’ll need to introduce to them.
- Put your list in order based on what a person needs to know before they can understand the next point, and from least to most exciting. Now cut out everything you possibly can without losing the flow of the presentation. You will probably need to cut things that you originally thought were important.
- Consider making this list with a friend who isn’t an expert in your field.
- Don’t use too much jargon.
- (Respectfully) address any controversies in your claims, including legitimate counter-arguments, reasons you might be wrong, or doubts your audience might have about your idea.
Find a landing point in your conclusion that will leave your audience feeling positive toward you and your idea.
- Don’t use your conclusion to simply summarize what you’ve already said; tell your audience how your idea might affect their lives.
- If appropriate, give your audience a call to action.
Using slides, animations or other visual aids
Ask yourself: Will this help and clarify information for the audience, or would they distract and confuse them?
The most important rule for visual aids is: Keep it simple.
- Use as little text as possible — if your audience is reading, they are not listening.
- Keep graphs or infographics visually clear, even if the content is complex. Each graph should make only one point.
- Avoid using bullet points. Consider putting different points on different slides.
- Only use images that you own or have permission to use.
- Don’t put any information or visuals in the far corners of your slides.
It’s important to give references to show where you found information about your topic. This is to avoid plagiarism (presenting someone else’s work as your own) which is an academic offence and would lead to disqualification from this competition.
Not only does this give credit to the people who did the original work that influenced you, it should also help other people to check your facts or learn more about the topic more easily.
For the purposes of this competition please follow the guidelines below:
Books: Author, (Date) Title
Dawkins, R. (2009) The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution
Printed journals: Author, (Date) Article title. Journal title, Page numbers
Bunce, J. A. (1984) Effects of humidity on photosynthesis. Journal of experimental botany pp 1245-1251
Website: Author, (Date published) Title [Viewed on …] Available from: <URL>
Harari, Y. N. (2014) Body upgrades may be nearing reality, but only for the rich [Viewed on 15 January 2016] Available from: http://www.theguardian.com/science/2014/sep/05/body-upgrades-only-for-rich
You should present these as a list at the end of the video.
Rehearse until you’re completely comfortable in front of other people. Listen to their criticisms and rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. If someone says you sound “over-rehearsed,” this actually means you sound unnatural. Keep rehearsing, and focus on talking like you’re speaking to just one person in a spontaneous one-way conversation. Time yourself. Practice with the clock winding down in front of you. Do it until you get the timing right every time.
World ORT STEM Communication Awards – General Tips
The following points are adapted from Karen Bultitude, (2011), The Why and How of Science Communication.
#1 Know your audience
Your presentation will be seen by people of all ages, with a wide range of scientific backgrounds. You can be sure however that they are watching these videos because they want to learn more and they are open to hearing new ideas. You should always explain any scientific language that you use and only use mathematical equations when there is no other option.
#2 Think creatively
A creative presentation will stand out from others and by doing things differently your video is more likely to be remembered long after it has been viewed. Try to think of a ‘hook’ that will grab the viewer’s attention. This could be something that shocks them, something that makes them laugh or challenges their accepted ways of thinking
#3 Learn from others
It is important that your presentation is your own work, however your preparation should include watching other people presenting on similar topics.
#4 Get feedback
Even more important than learning from others, you need to find out what you can learn from yourself. Make videos of yourself practicing and ask people for feedback. Watch yourself and you’ll see things that work well that you should keep doing and things that you should to try to avoid.
#5 Enjoy yourself
Choose a topic that you have a strong interest in or care about. The audience will share your enthusiasm if they see that you feel passionately about the subject you’re presenting. With practice you will move away from concentrating on the words and instead you can focus on the message.