Thursday, August 23, 2007

Hints and Tips for Seminar Presentation

Hints and Tips for Seminar Presentation

For many of you this will be the first time that you have given a seminar. Here are some hints and tips that you might find useful.

Come Early

You should come early, at least 20 minutes before you give talk. You need to familiarise with the environment and to get know some of the people there.

Take Charge. When you are giving your talk remember that you are the expert in the room. You will know more than most people in the room so be bold and speak out clearly.

Keep Control

Introduce yourself and your talk and the main points that you hope to discuss during your talk. Being the most informed person there means you have to lead your audience gently through the topics and keep them on track.

Timing is Important!

Timing can be quite difficult. There is often a temptation to pack too much into a talk. This is distracting for an audience and can give a negative impression of an otherwise excellent talk. The limit of 5 overheads is as much as you can reasonably cover in 10 minutes.

Ensure that you practice your talk as often as you need, and practicing with other people there also helps you 'simulate' how it feels to stand up in front of a group.

Structure Your Talk

Generally, you should start with an introduction overhead, the middle overheads should show the message you are trying to convey, and the final overhead should show a brief summary of the key points, and conclusions.

Bold and Beautiful

Mixing up the way in which you present material is a really valuable way of holding an audience's attention. Bullet points are a useful way of getting information across but can get quite boring. You should try to use as clear and large illustrations and diagrams are extremely helpful in getting your point across. Badly photocopied diagrams that are too small and detailed to see are worse than listening to other people's karaoke.

Make It Snappy and Interesting!

Although many people who feel nervous like to write out their talk in full reading from a script can be somewhat 'dry'. Try to look at the audience as much as possible. If necessary use bullet points on an overhead as a prompt for yourself as well as underlining key points for your audience. However, do not clutter up overheads with too much text as your audience stops listening to you and starts reading your overheads.

As a general rule font size should not be less than 16-18pts and overheads should contain no more than three main points with a few key words associated with each.

Be Enthusiastic

Try to be enthusiastic (or at least interested) in what you are talking about. Although it is tempting to do so when nervous try to avoid saying things like ' I didn't really get this bit' or 'well this is a bit dull but I'm going to tell you about it anyway'.

Body Language

Your body language is also important. If you look bored you are enhancing the chances that your audiences is super-bored.

Talk Slowly

Make an effort to talk slowly and clearly. If you have a tendency to go fast use props to slow yourself down. e.g. draw diagrams by hand or take a sip of water everytime you change an overhead. It might seem like this takes forever but most of us have a tendency to talk more rapidly in front of a large group. As the expert the speed with which you understand points will be about twice that of an audience so keep it slow.

Ask Yourself

The most important question to ask yourself when you've written a talk is - 'Would I be interested in that talk if I were in the audience?' If the answer is NO then CHANGE YOUR TALK! We've all had to do that.

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