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What do 18 students, three supervisors and two organizers from eleven countries and four continents do when they get to know water use in Iran on site within nine days? The answer is clear: they present their own knowledge to each other and draw on the practical experience of local experts. They discuss scientific facts and their practical implementation with the experts. They exchange open questions on historical and current water management, desertification and energy use in Iran. For the practical demonstration on site, they charter a friendly local bus driver who will reliably steer them 1 200 kilometers through villages and metropolises, the dry steppe and to salt lakes. A challenge that everyone is happy to accept.

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You are attending a seminar and are suddenly addressed directly by the speaker: “What is your opinion?” There is no time for long reflection. How do you react now? Do you have a suitable answer ready?

Honestly, this situation rarely occurs in the presentation. In a seminar such a direct question is not common either. More often than not you come into this situation in small talk or in conversation with other colleagues. However, it is common during or after a presentation in which you speak to an audience yourself. If only you could answer spontaneously and quick-witted! What can you do for it?

 

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Poster presentations are an integral part of science conferences since the 1960s (Rowe, 2017). Google spits out millions of tips about how to design posters and in terms of content. But how do you present yourself during the poster session? How do you maximize attention? How do you position yourself as an expert in your field? The online tips are so far – well, very modest. This blog post is meant to change that. Read more

Simon prepares the last section of his science presentation. He wants to draw a clear conclusion by presenting new findings and discussing them with the audience. As in the beginning and middle part, he is accompanied by his mentor Sarah, who can draw on her wealth of experience and provides Simon with valuable information for his performance.

The first impression at the beginning of a presentation can be reinforced or revised in the closing and the follow-up discussion. It is Simon’s second chance to be positively remembered by the audience.

The majority of presentations end in the classic way: contents are summarized once again. Resulting conclusions and a “thank you” follow before the moderator leads over to the discussion.

 

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A promising recipe for high-quality presentations is the proper language style: Use plain language! Speak in a way so that you are understood immediately and easily. Allow no space for average presentations.

You can skip the obvious at the beginning like in the following speech excerpt confidently: “Good day, dear audience. It is great that so many of you have appeared. My name is Wolfgang Schneider. I will first provide an overview of the research area, then I will present the methods before I move on to the actual results of our project. For the sake of completeness, I will list the literature sources on my last slide…”

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Do you act confidently in the event of unplanned interruptions and disruptions? You can influence a lot with your personal attitude. As a speaker you are most likely sensitive to any kind of disruption. Can you differentiate between trivial disturbances and those where you need to intervene? With a portion of serenity and good preparation you will act with confidence. And with an entertaining, interesting lecture you will have the audience on your side: They will follow you attentively and can hardly be distracted. In the latter event, it does not have to be your fault: You cannot know in advance whether a listener is ill, mentally worried about her private situation or has another important appointment. As long as there are only individual participants who do not disturb your presentation any further, you can neglect them.

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Here is THE tip for all presentations you will give in the future: Dare to prepare – each of your speeches, again and again!

Of course, every speech should be prepared so well that you can deliver it in a convincing way. Every single speech is unique and cannot be compared to any previous presentation. Also consider your target group: your audience…

  • is not comparable
  • has its very own expectations
  • often brings with them very different levels of expertise.

 

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