Oral presentations are an extremely important aspect of scientific communications. Such communication platforms can range from labchats to seminars, conference presentations, lectures, tutorials and presentations to lay audiences. In essence, oral communications serves a different purpose to written communications. Often, the speaker has to deal with heterogenous audiences, short attention spans and the fact that the listeners' attention may be split between reading information on Powerpoint slides and listening to the speaker's words. I have provided some tips on effective presentations. The information is based on a publication by Janet Haffler (2011).

Hafler, J. (2011). Effective presentations: tips for success. Nature Immunology, 12:1021-1023.

It is important to figure out the purpose of your presentation, as the structure of the presentation will depend on your purpose. Is it a literature review? Are you presenting primary research data? Is it a lecture for a course? Remember that the structure of the presentation will depend on its goals. However, despite this, you will need an Introduction, Development and a Conclusion.

Introduction: create the interest. There are three main strategies - (i) appeal to the audience' interest. (ii) provide a conceptual conflict or (iii) indicate a contradiction.

Development: organise the main concepts to be discussed. However, try to be a minimalist. Present the minimum amount of information to convey your ideas to the audience. Intersperse the presentation with open discussions (if applicable), problem-solving sessions or with alternatives to slide presentations (videos, demonstrations, etc).

Conclusion: this is relatively straightforward, although often neglected (speakers tend to jump to acknowledgements before effectively concluding their presentations). After creating your presentation, think of ways to embellish it. Handouts, checking your fonts (Arial, black coloured font on a white background is most effective), paying attention to colour combinations on your slides (try and accommodate for red-green clolourblindness), remove distracting backgrounds)


Sham Nair 2014