CHRIS FULLER: By this stage of your research project, you’ve finished most of the hard work. You’ve identified the hypothesis you wanted to investigate. You’ve undertaken research to find evidence and sources that either support or challenge that hypothesis. And then you’ve draw that together in the form of an academic essay, or a scientific report, or whatever other form it is that that project has actually taken. But you’re not quite finished yet. There’s still a very important stage to go. It’s important that you share your research findings with your peers and that method of sharing is an academic presentation.
EMMA THOMPSON: An academic presentation has four key elements. The first is preparing it. The second is structuring it. The third is practicing it. And obviously, the fourth is finally delivering it. Over the course of the week, we’ll be looking at how to help you prepare and structure it. We cannot, obviously, teach you though how to practise your delivery or how to deliver in itself. But we can show you some hints and tips that we’ve picked up over the years. So for me, I always think it’s really important to think about your posture and your movement. So I like to stand behind the lectern, because this is where I feel most comfortable.
I don’t try to stand in just one place, however. It makes it quite dull for the audience. I know you like to move around a little bit more.
CHRIS FULLER: Yeah, I don’t really like to be stuck behind the lectern. I find that one of the ways I overcome my nerves is to actually kind of move around and to pace a little as I present but, of course, you have to keep this in mind. Because actually, what you don’t want to do is end up moving and pacing so much that actually the movements end up becoming a distraction to the audience and what they’re actually paying more attention to , rather than what you’re saying, is where you’re moving and how you’re walking around. The same goes for your actual physical posture as well.
You want to make sure that you adopt a position that’s open and inviting to the audience, rather than something that’s really nervous or shaking away from them or avoiding them. And you also want to think about your gesticulation. Using your hands to enhance points is perfectly good practise but you want to make sure that you’re not gesticulating so furiously or so nervously that actually, again, you become a distraction to the actual point that you’re trying to make.
EMMA THOMPSON: Also, think about your eye contact as well. You were making eye contact with the camera there, as I am, and I am with you now. So it’s really important. It can be quite difficult though if you are going to stick to a script.
CHRIS FULLER: Yeah. I think one of the ways people think that they can overcome their nerves is to have a really, really strict script. And actually, what they start to do is they just prepare very carefully and then they just read from this script. Now, the problem with that is you’re not actually having any eye contact or engagement with the audience. You’re just looking down the whole time and reading off this script. And so actually, this isn’t as effective a way of getting your points across. Also this gets even worse if the nerves start to kick in and the script starts to shake about.
We all end up getting distracted by the noisy paper instead of the points you’re trying to say. So we would advise, really, that you try to do away with that strict script and instead, try to think a little bit more creatively about how you might keep those details in your mind.
EMMA THOMPSON: If you can’t bear to let go of your script, try and keep some brief bullet points on some cards. You won’t shake as much. And you’ll just sort of casually glance down, whilst you’re looking around your audience. Voice is also another really important point to think about.
CHRIS FULLER: That’s right. Yeah. When you’re giving that presentation, you want to make sure that you’re not so– but also you’re not so loud from your nerves that the front row are kind of just covering their ears with the sheer volume of your nervous presentation. You also want to think carefully about the speed and how articulate you’re being with your points. You don’t want to speak so fast that no one can really understand what you’re saying. At the same time, you don’t want to be so slow -
EMMA THOMPSON: that somebody wants to finish your sentences really quickly.
EMMA THOMPSON: So hopefully, what we will do throughout the course of this week, is make your presentation as good as it possibly can be.