Sarah’s presentation was easily understandable and entertaining. In the discussion she gained new ideas and insights. At the coffee break she is approached by other people who want to learn more about her project. Simon is a PhD student at the symposium and listened to the presentation with interest. He wants to know how Sarah prepared her successful speech.


Good preparation is half the battle

Sarah is a research associate. Her project addresses the issues of migration and intercultural communication. She says: “I already answered some basic questions in advance. That was important for my success: I am now clear about my own motivation and know exactly what excites me about my research project”. Sarah did not develop the idea for her project herself, but the topic appealed to her from the beginning.

To ensure that Simon’s next presentation also succeeds, he deals with these questions:

  • Why am I working on my project? What motivates me?
  • What connects me personally and emotionally with the research topic?
  • What suitable anecdote can I use about my emotional relationship to the project?

Sarah’s answers turn out that way: She works on the project because it suits her particular interest in other cultures and their history. Through two internships abroad in Mexico and Indonesia, she has made exciting contacts and made new friends.

In her presentation, Sarah vividly describes how she was received after her arrival in an extended family. She also shares insights on how both sides developed an understanding for different cultural behaviors. She ties it to the transition into her current project. In this way Sarah contributes her personal and emotional relationship to her research project. Her eyes shine as she talks about her experiences. Sarah’s enthusiasm for the subject immediately reaches her audience.


What can my audience expect?

Despite all her enthusiasm, Sarah’s audience naturally expects facts first and foremost – concrete results from her research, which she presents and puts up for discussion. She prepares her presentation with common terms from her specialist jargon. Before a non-specialist audience, she would have chosen a simple language using only generally known terminology.

She also thinks about her audience’s expectations regarding her speech. Like Sarah, her colleagues usually work on projects on migration and intercultural communication. She adapts to an audience of scientists, social pedagogues and speakers from international organizations.

In order for Simon to prepare the contents of his next presentation in a targeted manner, Sarah asks him the following questions:

  • What does your audience know about the latest developments? Is it specialist knowledge from theory and practice?
  • What content is your audience particularly interested in? What special added value can you provide?
  • What should the audience know after the presentation?

Simon’s audience also has a science background and is interested in gaining insights from recent studies. However, Simon is not yet familiar how to transfer his basic knowledge into practice. To this end, he could now contact social educators and speakers directly at the conference or via ResearchGate and LinkedIn in order to address this topic. In this way, he also expands his personal network.


Science lives on narratives

As former students, Sarah and Simon share one experience: many of the lectures and seminars were hard to digest at the time. Both of them are enthusiastic about the topics that some lecturers have presented with endless numbers and facts. On the other hand, they both like to recall numerous colorful details that their lecturers were able to connect substantive basics and personal experiences.

In order for science to excite the public once again, Simon will also include some personal stories that fit the content. He agrees with Sarah that scientific facts and results need to be presented accurately. And yet, thanks to “storytelling”, lectures come to life again. Short and concise stories are always convincing when combining existing knowledge with new insights.

Sarah did everything the right way: She convinced with her presentation and backed up her scientific findings in further discussions with colleagues. Now she is even promised a follow-up project. And Simon wins Sarah as mentor: they schedule another meeting in which Sarah will provide him with both the structure and the most important items for a successful presentation.

This post is also available in: German

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