Simon is a PhD student and is currently preparing his conference presentation. He has already improved his start after a meeting with his mentor Sarah. Now he asks himself: How can I present the results of my study concisely? What details are my audience interested in and what new insights do they gain? How does the transition between the individual sections work?
Set highlights in the middle section
You do not have to present all the results in detail: If all results are important, none of them is special. The audience would be overwhelmed with the sheer amount of information. A promising approach is to limit yourself to 2-3 interesting aspects. These refer to the most important or major findings.
Sarah works through the following questions with Simon in order to gain clarity about the most important results:
- What contribution do you or your project make with regard to existing knowledge?
- Which 2-3 latest findings are relevant for your research project?
- How can your findings impact on practice or general knowledge?
For a 15-minute presentation, Simon can plan about 10-12 minutes in the middle section.
Less is more: Relevance counts
In the speech, Simon will present aspects on which he already collected enough data and information. He can evaluate these for a first interim conclusion. He can also briefly mention other points. If necessary, the audience can address these in the discussion or in a later conversation.
From this, Simon addresses the most relevant details. He can highlight new findings from his study with a brief summary. He may also summarize them in an overarching synthesis or a conclusion in the last section of his presentation. If his study is based on a theory that still needs to be proven, a scenario about further developments in practice would also be conceivable.
Simon could illustrate the results of his study using photos and graphics. Pictures of people, landscapes or experimental set-ups are particularly suitable for this purpose. He can support theses that still have to be proven in practice with well thought-out scenarios. They are usually the subject of particularly controversial discussions. In the natural sciences, experiments on stage or the practical demonstration of a process by means of props would be a good option. In order to avoid pure showmanship, the end of the experiment must be a direct, genuine gain in knowledge for the audience.
Creating clear transitions for the audience
In the presentation Simon inserts clear transitions between the individual sections to allow his audience to follow. For this purpose the following formulations are suitable:
- The third and most important result is…
- A deciding factor is…
- In practice, this means…
Thanks to Sarah’s tips, Simon now knows that targeted pauses and changing positions on stage also provide acoustic and visual support for the structure of his lecture.
Three types of structure are particularly suitable for the main part of the presentation:
- Chronological: Fits historical and socio-political themes. The speaker depicts a temporal development which is discussed. Particularly interesting are events that mark a turning point in history and social development. Causes and consequences are examined here.
- Spatial: The speaker compares geographical spaces or research areas of a project. Individual results (in the best case 2-3 areas) are compared. Thus, direct references to questions, comparison of causes and spatial consequences are revealed.
- Argumentative: The speaker contrasts pro- and contra-arguments. This supports or disproves a thesis put forward at the beginning. Also the weighing of advantages and disadvantages of a concept, an action or a result fits to this structure.
Simon presented the most important results of his study. Now he can build the bridge to the final by drawing consequences and conclusions. Sarah will share with him how to build this last part of his presentation at the next joint meeting.
This post is also available in: German