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Presentation Woes

I’m currently preparing to give my first journal article presentation to the research group I’m working in (as part of my placement year).

I’m terrified for several reason:

Reason number one being that I picked a paper that is super interesting and relevant to the research a lot of people in the group a currently doing BUT it’s very genetics based. I don’t know much about methods used in genetics research and researchers in my group usually do brain imaging studies…so I worry that they might not find it as useful as I hope. But I’m going to take a risk. It’s a pretty cool paper and it’s about Prosopagnosia, the face-recognition disorder my supervisor and I are currently studying.

Reason number two being that I don’t understand the data analysis very well right now. Statistics isn’t my strong point anyway, but now I have to understand how they analysed the data they got from DNA sequencing…which is not straightforward. I’m hoping that I can wrap my mind around it in time for the presentation.

Reason number three being that the people who make up my research group are very intelligent. I’m surrounded by experts, most people in the group have PhDs, and I am just an undergraduate! It’s super easy to feel inadequate. But this is a feeling that I’m working on.

And finally, despite loving drama at A Level and being quite happy chatting in social situations, I cannot give presentations. I panic, I stumble over my words, I speak too fast…


Having said all of this, I will now attempt to (possibly ill advisedly) provide some advice on giving presentations:

1. We’ll start with a super obvious one. Take notes, but don’t rely on them too much. Don’t spend the entire presentation reading from your notebook but also don’t go in empty handed, if you forget what you’re talking about it’s useful to have some bullet points jotted down to guide you.

2. Don’t put too much on your slides. It’s a pain for people to read, and if you can explain it to them yourself, it looks like you know what you’re talking about.

3. Don’t talk too fast. I’m terrible at talking at a normal speed, so this is something I constantly monitor. It is really hard to concentrate if the speaker is talking too fast to understand.

4. Don’t freak out, another potentially obvious point, but still an important one. This is definitely my biggest problem. The only way I think I’m going to get through this is by telling myself it doesn’t matter. They are people too, if I make a mistake it’ll be fine. Of course I think this, and then I spiral into a panic about how it is incredibly important not to let any of them down and how my whole career could potentially hang on this one presentation….but then I breathe deeply and go back to telling myself that it’s fine, it’s one little hour, in my hopefully long life, nobody is going to kick me off placement year if I mess up. Breathe.

5. Use nice pretty pictures. But ones that are relevant. If you’re presenting data it’s always nice to include graphs etc. it makes it so much easier to understand.

If any of you are interested this is the paper I’m presenting:

Don’t forget to follow me on twitter or message me with any questions!


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