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    How to Give an Oral PowHoHoresentation Essay

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    . Introduction . The Attention Curve .

    Why does an audience get distracted? . How to organize your presentation . In ten steps to a successful presentationIntroductionHow often have you been listening to oral presentations that dealt withinteresting science while you nevertheless had difficulty to pay attentiontill the end? How often did you lose your interest before the speaker hadeven come halfway? Was it because of the subject of the talk or was it theway the speaker presented it?Many presentations concern interesting work, but are nevertheless difficultto follow because the speaker unknowingly makes a number of presentationerrors. By far the largest mistake is that a speaker does not realize howan audience listens. If you are well aware of what errors you should avoid,the chances are high that you will be able to greatly improve theeffectiveness of your presentations.

    The Attention CurveThe average attendee of a conference is by all means willing to listen toyou, but he is also easily distracted. You should realize that only a minorpart of the people have come specifically to listen to your talk. The restis there for a variety of reasons, to wait for the next speaker, or to geta general impression of the field, or whatever. Figure 1 illustrates how the average audience pays attention during atypical presentation of, let’s say, 30 minutes. Almost everyone listens inthe beginning, but halfway the attention may well have dropped to around 10-20% of what it was at the start. At the end, many people start to listenagain, particularly if you announce your conclusions, because they hope totake something away from the presentation.

    What can you do to catch the audience’s attention for the whole duration ofyour talk? The attention curve immediately gives a few recipes: . Almost everyone listens in the beginning. This is THE moment to makeclear that you will present work that the audience cannot afford tomiss. . If you want to get your message through, you should state it loud andclear in the beginning, and repeat it at the end. .

    The best approach, however, is to divide your presentation in severalparts, each ended by an intermediate conclusion, see Figure 2. Peoplein the audience who got distracted can always easily catch up withyou, particularly if you outline the structure of your talk in thebeginningFigure 2. Ideal attention curve of an audience when the speakerdivides his talk in recognizable parts, each summarized byintermediate conclusions. If people loose their attention for somereason, they can easily catch up with the speaker in one of hisintermediate summaries. The big advantage of this approach is thatevery important item is said several times.

    Repeating the essentialsis the key to getting your message across[pic]Why does an audience get distracted?There are many reasons why this may happen, some may be outside yourcontrol, such as inadequate sound systems, poor overhead projectors, ornoisy conference centers with cardboard walls between two sessions runningin parallel. What you can do, is avoid anything that may encourage theaudience to stop listening. Such mistakes fall in two classes: speaker’serrors and presentation errors. We list a couple of the most common ones,most are self explanatory. 1. The speaker lives in his own little world of research, he believesthat all the background information needed to appreciate the meaningof his work is common knowledge.

    This is seldom the case!|AUDIENCES LOVE BACKGROUND INFORMATION!||You can raise the interest of attendees ||who are not per definition interested in ||your subject, by giving them the||impression that they will learn something||from your talk. Note that this part of||the audience is more interested in ||general aspects than in the details. You ||certainly need to give them a good ||introduction into the background of your ||subject, before they can fully appreciate||the subtleties of your work. Hence, you ||should spend at least some 30% of your||time on general themes, e. g.

    what is||known about the catalytic reaction and||the catalysts and how it is applied in||industry, or perhaps a less known method ||of research that is more generally ||applicable, etc. A large part of the||audience may find this very useful to||know. But what is even more important,||with sufficient background information||they will understand a lot more about||your specific results, i. e. that part of ||the talk you are most proud of. | 2.

    3. The structure of the presentation is unclear, and consequently theline of reasoning is hard to follow. Important matters as problemidentification, aims, or motivation are insufficiently clear. 4.

    Visual aids (transparencies, slides) are inadequate, confusing,unreadable, too small, too crowded, etc. Some speakers show too manyin a too short time (one per minute is not bad as a rule of thumb). 5. The speaker uses long, complicated sentences; he uses unnecessaryjargon, abbreviations or difficult words.

    Passive sentences (“Fromthis figure it was deduced that . . . ” or “It was therefore concludedthat . .

    . . . .

    ) are more difficult to follow than active ones (“Thisfigure implies that . . . ” or “Therefore, we conclude that . . .

    ” ). 6. Even worse is when the speaker reads his speech from paper and forgetsthata. written language is usually more formal and complicated thanlanguage used in everyday conversations,b.

    and reading written text goes a lot faster than impromptuspeaking. Not too fast, please. . .

    . !Many speakers have rehearsed their talk so often that they speak too fast. Others simply have so much to cover, that the only way to stay within theallotted time is to speed up. Of course, this is not in the interest of theaudience, particularly not at an international meeting. .

    . . and try to vary your paceAs a rule of thumb, speaking at 150 words per minute is all right. However,try to vary your rate. Key ideas, complicated points, or concluding remarks(you may want to use one at the end of every slide you show) are bestpresented at a slower pace.

    7. In such cases the audience will definitely experience informationoverload. Of course we sympathize with the speaker whofeelsinsufficiently confident in English. However, reading a text is almostalways an unsatisfactory solution.

    And after all, nobody in theaudience will blame you for a couple of mistakes in the language,English will be a foreign language for the majorityoftheparticipants. 8. Monotonous sentences, spoken either too fast or too slowly, lack ofemphasis, unclear pronunciation, all make it difficult for thelisteners to stay attentive. Some speakers turn their back to theaudience and watch the projection screen while they are talking, instead of trying to make visual contact with the audience. How to organize your presentationYou should be aware of fundamental differences between an oral presentationand a written report.

    In the presentation the listener by necessity has tofollow the order in which the speaker presents his material. The reader ofan article can skip parts, go back to the materials section, take a previewat the conclusions when he reads the results, etc. Exactly because of thisreason, all scientific reports follow the generally adopted structure ofAbstract – Introduction – Experimental Methods – Results – Discussion -Conclusions – References. However, this structure is totally UNSUITABLE foran oral presentation.

    Nevertheless, the majority of contributed talks at aconference adheres to it. Why is this generally accepted structureunsuitable for lectures? Because the listener will have to remember detailsabout the experimental methods until the results are presented, and he mustrecall the various results when the speaker deals with the discussion. Inother words, details that should be combined (the why, how, what and whatdoes it mean of a particular experiment) are treated separately. You ask alot from the audience if they need to remember all these facts and figuresuntil at the end you explain how these bits and pieces fit in a largerpicture.

    Grouping together what belongs together is a much better way to organizeyour talk. Hence, if you discuss characterization by e. g. XPS, you startthis part of the presentation with a few introductory remarks of what youwant to learn about your catalyst, how XPS may help you to provide thisinformation, then you show a few results and you discuss what they mean. End with a conclusion. Then you go to the next item in your presentation,which may be determination of particle size by TEM.

    When finished withthis, you may give an overall conclusion on the state of your catalystbefore you go on to speak about catalytic behavior. Figure 3. In an oral presentation you should group together what belongstogether. In ten steps to a successful presentationYou should realize that the two key issues in the preparation of a talkare: .

    The message: What do I want the audience to know when I am finished? . The audience: How do I present my talk such that the audience willunderstand and remember what I have to say? 1. Start in time. Once you submitted the abstract to the conference organizers, it istime to start thinking about how you organize the material in a talkif your abstract will have been accepted. Read about the background ofyour work, read related work, look at your own results regularly andthink about the most relevant conclusions. Try to imagine what type ofaudience you would have and consider what you would have to include asbackground information 2.

    The messageTry to capture the message of your presentation in a single sentence. This is difficult. You will only be able to do this if you reallymaster your subject (which is actually the main requirement for beingable to clearly present your work to others). |Example:||”I want to convince the audience that||among a class of bimetallic catalysts the||combination of Fe-Ir/SiO2 shows the best ||catalytic performance for CO ||hydrogenation and that it works because ||the adsorption energy of carbon monoxide ||is efficiently diminished with respect to||that on the single metals. ” | 3. Select results and order themUse the sentence under 2) as the criterion to select which results toinclude, in what order, what basic information is needed to appreciatethese results, and which experimental details are necessary and whichnot.

    Be very critical, any experiment or result that does notcontribute to your main message should be left out. Although it may at first sight seem natural to present your results inthe chronological order in which you obtained them, this does not haveto be the most ideal order for the audience to understand what youhave done. Think about where to discuss highlights, at the beginning?Near the end? Maybe dispersing the remarkable features through theentire talk? It is up to you, but take the order which you feelappeals most to the audience. The scientific background of your audience determines how much youshould explain aboutexperimentalapproaches,characterizationtechniques. Be careful NOT to identify your audience with yoursupervisor, the majority of listeners is unlikely to possess muchspecific knowledge about your subject. By the way, hardly anyone mindsto hear something he already knows, as long as you explain it well,and possibly in an entertaining way.

    4. Opening and IntroductionIn the opening, i. e. the first few sentences, you catch the attention,for example by a scientific question, or a catchy or maybe evenprovocative statement.

    Perhaps you could already give the conclusionof your work too. Try to speak slowly, with emphasis, and look at theaudience. Of course, you must have prepared and rehearsed the openingcarefully. However, before you give your opening sentence, it is good to startwith “Mister Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen. .

    . ” followed by a fewseconds of silence, in which you look around to see if people arepaying attention. By doing so, you actually force the audience tolisten. With these words you also test the sound system, and youascertain that your important opening lines are going to be heard.

    |DON’T DO THIS||An often heard, but poor start of a||presentation is: ||”Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. I am||. . .

    . . . and I’d like to tell you||something about my Ph. D. project at the ||Group of Archaic Chemistry at the ||University of Science City.

    The title of ||my talk is . . . . . .

    . I will start with an||Introduction, then explain the||experimental techniques, next present the||most important results, and finally I||hope to draw a few conclusions and I want||to acknowledge a few people. So let us||start with the Introduction . . .

    “||If you open this way you will find ||yourself in the company of many others. ||Nevertheless, this is a totally||inefficient way to start a lecture. How ||would you respond if you were in the||audience? |In the rest of the Introduction, you sketch the background of yourresearch. Remember that many people will be very interested in aconcise summary of the status in your area. Hence, reserve sufficienttime (i.

    e. at least 30% of the total time) for the general aspects ofyour work. It is good practice to not only clearly identify thescientific question you address, but also give the conclusion of yourwork, if you wish so. In this way you enable the audience to betterfollow your reasoning and to anticipate on the outcome of theexperiments.

    In other words, you give them a chance to listenactively. Remember that a scientific presentation is not a detectivestory which is solved in the last moment. 5. Conclusions and EndingConclusions should be properly announced to regain full attention. Present your conclusions in relation to the questions you raised inthe Introduction.

    Avoid all irrelevant details. Once you finished theconclusions, you may acknowledge people who helped you (not thecoauthors listed in the program) and the Funding Agencies. Then youmay end with a final sentence that repeats the message of your talk,for instance: “Ladies and Gentlemen, I hope I have convinced you thatXY/Support is a very promising catalyst for converting methane intosynthetic gasoline at room temperature. ” This is the take-home messagethat the audience should remember, hopefully in combination with yourname and affiliation. 6.

    Excellent figures have the highest impactA picture is worth a thousand words. Well, not necessarily. Figures,especially those generated by spreadsheets, may look neat and tidy butat the same time they may be real puzzles (see Figure 4). A goodpicture to be used in an oral presentation o is easy to read (large lettering, good contrast), o explains itself (clear title, preferably a conclusion too) o contains only relevant information, o does not contain jargon or difficult codes that the audienceneeds to translate. Figure 4.

    Spreadsheetsoftenproduceunsatisfactoryfigures,particularly with respect to labeling. A good figure has labels on thecurves and not in a legend. Secret codes and jargon should be avoidedas much as possibleHence, when showing a series of spectra or activity curves, you put anunderstandable label on each curve (not a,b,c, which are explained ina separate legend!!). Avoid reference to samples in codes such as”Sample AX234/a5″ which may be handy in laboratory notebooks, but areunsuitable in presentations (and in articles as well). Using tables with numbers is in most cases not recommended. Rememberthat an audience reads everything you show on a transparency, andwhile they read they pay less attention to what you say.

    Also avoidtheoretical formulas and mathematical derivations. Sometimes you mayhave to show one, but try to keep it to a minimum. You should realizethat the human memory remembers in terms of pictorial information. Hence clear figures, schemes, and diagrams are the best means toconvey information. 7.

    Visual aids: Overhead transparencies, slides, or computer projection?Using transparencies on a simple overhead projector is more or lessproblem free. In most cases, transparencies project well, are easy toread for the audience, and the lecture hall does not have to bedarkened so that people can make notes if they wish. For you as aspeaker, transparencies leave you the flexibility to make last minutechanges, or even write on them during projection. |Tips for effective transparencies ||Preferably use landscape format||Use large lettering||Black letters on a white background, or ||bright yellow on black or dark blue give ||the best result ||Do not use structured backgrounds and do ||not waste too useful space on logos, etc.

    ||||Use pictures, figures, with a title, a||short, clear caption||Avoid data in tables or in text||If you use text than no more than 8-12||lines per slide ||Avoid complete sentences, use “headlines”||||Give each slide a title and try to ||include a brief conclusion at the bottom ||of each slide||Remove all information from figures that ||is not absolutely necessary, but do||provide clear understandable labels on||curves and spectra, so that they become ||self explanatory to the audience. |||Slides do not give this kind of flexibility. Optimally prepared slidesin combination with a high quality projector can certainly providebeautiful visual support to your talk. Unfortunately, many slideprojectors offer less than optimum quality, and moreover, manyspeakers show unsatisfactory slides. In addition, many things may gowrong: slide carrousels may get stuck, slides may go upside down, theslide control does not work properly, etc.

    Another serious drawback ofusing slides is that the lecture theater has to be dark, making itdifficult for the audience to take notes. If the speakerisinsufficiently entertaining, one easily falls asleep. . . Recently the use of computer projection with a beamer has becomepopular. No doubt, this offers wonderful opportunities for spectaculareffects.

    However, most portable beamers are not bright enough forlarge conference halls, and only very few conference centers have thenecessary high-quality beamers installed. Also, the usual presentationsoftware offers so many inviting opportunities, that speakers oftenuse ineffective color combinations and disturbing background patterns,see also Figure 5. Actually, the ‘old fashioned’ overhead slides are not so bad at all. . .

    Figure 5. Be careful with colors and backgrounds on overhead sheets,slides and posters. 8. Communication instead of performingYour presentation will be most effective if you use the same everydaylanguage in which you explain things to a fellow student in the lab.

    There is absolutely no need to use a more formal language. In fact,formal language is not desirable at all as it is more difficult tounderstand for the audience. Do not try to impress the audience withfancy words, formal constructions, subject-specificjargon,orunnecessary abbreviations. Think about oral presentations in terms ofcommunication and do not see it as the performance of a literary play.

    The audience will be grateful if you are easy to follow. 9. Timing: Absolutely necessaryNow comes the moment of truth: Does everything you prepared fit withinthe available time? There is only one way to find out: Take yourstopwatch and go. This is usually a frustrating experience.

    First, youmay note that the sentences simply do not come. My solution is to sitdown and write the first part out in clear, short sentences. Second,you will probably find that you have too much material. Hence, youhave to cut down and I do hope that you will not take out too much ofthe General Introduction. With the attention curves of Figures 1 and 2in mind, it is probably the best to skip a few less important items inthe middle of your talk. You should never compromize ontheIntroduction and the Conclusions!|DON’T LOSE TIME AT THE START ||Many speakers, even very experienced||ones, unnecessarily lose time in the||first few minutes.

    ||If the chairman did his job appropriately||there is no need to repeat the title, to ||explain who you are, or to repeat your||affiliation. Showing all this information||on a transparency is more than||sufficient. ||Other speakers noticeably have difficulty||to get started. Apparently, the intended ||introductory statements do not come as||spontaneously as the speaker hoped, maybe||because of stage fear.

    ||Note, that a good start of the talk is||critically important in catching the||audience’s attention, you don’t want to ||take any risks here. Hence, the best||advice to speakers is to meticulously||prepare for the first five minutes. Write||this part out in short, powerful crystal ||clear sentences and rehearse them several||times. |Carefully timing your presentation is extremely important. Goingovertime is an offense to the audience and to the speakers followingyou, particularly if there are parallel sessions.

    Nothing is moreembarrassing than that the chairman has to stop you before you havebeen able to present your conclusions! 1. Are you nervous? Hopefully you are!Only very few of us have been born as a talented speaker. Almosteveryone will be nervous before a presentation. For beginners,nervousness may easily lead to lack of confidence, caused by feelingsof being inexperienced.

    First time speakers often interpret nervousness as a sign that theyare apparently incapable of delivering a good presentation. This isnot true. All the symptoms that accompany nervousness, such asfrequent swallowing, trembling, transpiration, etc. are signs thatyour body is getting ready for something important. Athletes, stageperformers, musicians, and.

    . . experienced speakers have learned torecognize these symptoms and to appreciate them. They start to worrywhen these symptoms stay away!Experience is something that will come in time, by practicing and byanalyzing your presentations and those by others. No one in theaudience will blame you for being a beginner. However, if you takecare to avoid a number of typical mistakes that beginners (and evenexperienced speakers) make, you will make a very good start with yourcareer as a presenter.

    If you know and understand the basic principlesand you know how to apply these, you are likely to give a talk that issignificantly better than the average presentation at internationalmeetings. Hence, lack of experience is not important provided youprepare your presentation well and you do your best to avoid theobvious mistakes listed in this brochure. Finally, the ten steps we discussed all go back to two basic principles:First what is the message I want to convey, andsecond, how does the audience understand this message best. Awareness of how audiences listen and memorize is the key behind apresentation that will be appreciated by many. ________________________________________________________________________Communicate in an oral presentation with slidesYour goal is to create an oral presentation accompanied by an electronicslide show that communicates your thesis and supporting points. Your presentation should include an introduction to your thesis, your mainpoints, and a conclusion.

    In General: . Remember that in an oral presentation you are the star! . The information in your slides should highlight or illustrate yournarration, not steal the show. . Pick one slide background and use it throughout your entirepresentation. .

    Keep text on slides to a minimum. Six words to a line and six lines toa slide are good guidelines. Avoid long sentences. . Use large fonts that can be easily read from the back of the room.

    Donot use light colors for your text. . Choose visuals that enhance your message. .

    Minimize or avoid animated texts, sounds, and fancy transitions. Special effects should not distract from your message. Create storyboardYour first step is to sketch your slides and outline your speech, focusingon your main argument and supporting points. Grab a pencil and scrap paperand draw your slides. Use simple sketches.

    Or, use the Storyboard templateprovided below. . Note the text the slide will display and consider what you will saywhen the slide is on the screen. If you use a bulleted list, ensurethat each phrase is in the same grammatical structure.

    . Sketch visuals. . You do not need text on every screen. As you explain a point, you mayhave only a photo or graph on the slide.

    The slides are intended toillustrate your presentation, not be the presentation. . In the introductory slides, you should have a “hook” to grab theaudience attention. . Middle slides should explain your main points. .

    Final slides should summarize your ideas. Storyboard templateCreate visuals . Download and assemble photos, graphics, audio, and video. . Store all items related to your slide presentation in a centralfolder.

    . Remember that music and images that you did not create are subject tocopyright rules. Obtain permission from the copyright holder or useresources from the public domain. Create slides . With your storyboard as a guide, create your slides using PowerPointor another similar application.

    . Set up master slide with text style and backgrounds. Use common fontssuch as Times or Ariel so that you can play your show on mostcomputers. . Insert the text. Check spelling and grammar.

    . Insert visuals. Graphic elements should face inward. (For example,people in a photograph should be looking into the center of theslide. ) .

    Ensure that the colors, font styles, special effects and transitionsenhance your message. They should not distract your audience. . Before you finalize your slides, ask a friend to give you feedback onyour organization and general presentation of information.

    . Don’t forget to give credit for ideas or information borrowed fromothers on individual slides and to include a slide listing in yourResources Used. For help learning slide presentation software: . Microsoft PowerPoint Guidelines/Help . Atomic Learning : The website uses short videos to teach softwareapplications.

    Ask your library media specialist if your schoolsubscribes. Obtain the home use passwords. RehearseAs with any speech, practice is essential. As you play your slides, imagineexactly what you will say as each slide is on the screen. Make correctionsto the slides and your speech notes. Practice giving your speech andrunning your slide show with a friend as an audience.

    Practice your speechwithout the slide show. Is your message still there?PresentArrange your equipment and a time for your speech. Remember to schedule theequipment you need: a computer, projector and screen. Remember to set upand test the speakers if your show includes audio. Don’t assume that yourtechnology will work.

    It is wise to have a back-up plan. Check and checkagain.Good luck with your presentation!———————–[pic]

    This essay was written by a fellow student. You may use it as a guide or sample for writing your own paper, but remember to cite it correctly. Don’t submit it as your own as it will be considered plagiarism.

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