Spoiler Alert! Know the key secrets to outstanding oral research presentation at conferences

Writing, submitting and defending your research paper are the biggest challenges you have to overcome to accomplish your PhD degree. However, merely presenting your research in front of your peers or your internal review committee wouldn’t add much value to your academic career. To be recognised as a professional researcher and to showcase your study, you must present your paper in academic conferences or seminars.

Presenting your study in conference although seems intimidating, gives you an opportunity to take the stage and demonstrate the growth you have experienced during the PhD journey, showcase your research abilities, and prove that the results obtained are both valid and important to your field of study.

Speaking in conferences is undoubtedly an exciting experience, but at the same time, it can be overwhelming (especially for the first timers). 

Oral presentation structure 

To successfully showcase your research in front of the research community, you should be aware of the structure of the presentation. 

Like research papers, oral presentations aim to demonstrate evidence to establish the validity of the significant findings. 

Oral presentation differs from research papers in terms of the level of interaction and rhythm to the audience. Also, rather than demonstrating everything in chronological order, it focuses on showcasing only the main theme. 

The structure of the presentation consists of three sections : the opening, body and the closing.

  • Opening section 

The opening section states the main theme of the presentation, prior to the preview. The main theme is that one statement you want your audience to remember. It can be regarded as your significant conclusion, stated with minimum technical detail than at the end of the presentation. In terms of its structure and intent, this section is similar to the introduction chapter of a research paper. That is, it provides the object of the study, context and need for the study

  1. The context can be replaced by ‘attention getter’ to connect with what the audience already knows and link those details with your topic. 
  2. The object of the study known as preview outlines the body of the presentation and prepares the audience for the structure of the body (not the entire presentation). The preview offers your audience with a map. It should neither include the introduction nor the conclusion. Additionally, it should be limited to main and subpoints of the presentation.
  • Body section 

To make this section more interesting and easy to understand & remember, represent it as a tree (hierarchy) rather than a chain. Identify four to five statements to support your main theme and few more subpoints to support those statements. As a rule of thumb, include the strongest points in the beginning and at the last and the weaker arguments in between the strong arguments. Explain how you have solved the issue and what is the significance of your results. Use examples to illustrate the findings or the major points in this section. Include a review in this section. The review will:

  1. Help the audience understand the major points
  2. Summarise all the evidence and prepare your audience for the closing section
  • Closing section 

After providing evidence and supporting the main theme in the body, wrap up the presentation with a closing section. This includes two stages: a conclusion and close

  1. Conclude by restating the main theme in a detailed manner by using technical terms and complementing it with other interpretations of your results (if any), explain what you have achieved and how it can contribute to your field of study.
  2. Next, close the presentation elegantly by thanking the audience and inviting questions from them. 

To be able to engage the audience, include few visual clues and maintain transition throughout your presentation. Also, ensure that the preview and review are ideally integrated into the presentation. 

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