Tips from Past Presentation Winners

Below is a compilation of tips from past Showcase presenters who have won top honors in their discipline category:

  • Start early on the Powerpoint and let it evolve and develop over time.  Don’t wait until the last two weeks.  Start a rough beginning like 2 months before, if you can.
  • Use your mentor’s guidance!  Presenting in front of your mentor for practice can prove quite valuable; it can point out flaws in your own understanding or in the presentation quality that can help you hone your final presentation later.  Pointing out misunderstandings that you may not have realized you had, and then correcting them makes you more confident in your work and more confident speaking. Also grammatical and visual details that could be perfected in your slides will be pointed out by your mentor.
  • Include page numbers so it’s easier for people to ask questions about certain slides.
    Optional: Have a guide on each slide to know where you are in your presentation. I like having it because I like knowing where I am in the presentation when someone speaks. Also, knowing that someone is almost done makes me more attentive or let’s me pay attention to a specific part of their presentation.
  • Have more visuals than words.
  • Practice beforehand, but remain flexible. You may flub on some words, or accidentally skip over a sentence, or have to repeat yourself– these sort of things are normal during any presentation. You should strive to do well, not to be perfect.
  • Do your research. This is a given, but what I mean is that you should be prepared to answer questions that may be a bit beyond the scope of what you discussed in your presentation. That being said, if you are asked a question that you cannot answer, there is no shame in saying, “I haven’t done enough research to answer that question.” Not knowing things doesn’t mean that you are unintelligent.
  • Be confident. This is easier said than done, but just try to remember that people are coming to the Showcase to watch you present your research. You have worked very hard on this research and possibly for many semesters, or even years, so you should take pride in your work and the chance to display it.
  • One thing I recommend is to practice. If you aren’t comfortable with presenting or you don’t do it much, it can be nerve wracking. If you can find people (friends/classmates/lab members) that are willing to be your audience, then take advantage of that. It’s better to practice in front of people you’re comfortable with so you can gain confidence when you actually present.
  • Another tip is to utilize the notes section on your powerpoint. Usually, you can see notes you’ve made about your presentation when you present. So if you draw a blank, it’s always good to have something to remind you what you’re talking about.
  • Finally, be as concise as possible. People want to know what you’re talking about but don’t drag it on if you already stated everything you needed to say, just to make time. It’s better to be short and sweet then to drag on a presentation that has no content.