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My worst nightmare (oral presentations)

Maybe it doesn't seem so bad to most people, but I dread oral presentations. But, I got a research fellowship for the summer, and I have to make a presentation about my research in front of the other recipients and the Dean of the college. The presentation is a month away, and I'm already feeling the pressure. I don't know if I have to memorize what I've to say or use notes, but I have to use powerpoint. Am I just very backward? How can I get over myself? Any advice?
 
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Don't worry about it. They want to hear what you have to say about the subject, they probably do not care about whether or not you are a good speaker. I am unsure of whether or not you can, but note cards would probably be ok. I would not use pieces of paper as notes because they make too much noise.
 

Monique

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Practice in front of a full lenght mirror! :smile: The first time I had to give a presentation I just practiced at home, using the ironing board as a desk :biggrin: that way you can practice looking into the audience, becoming independant of your notes, move your arms around and build confidence
 
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Just think of it this way, imagine that your friend came up to you and wanted to know about your research in depth, I bet that then you would be able to easily explain to him or her what it is that goes on and you wouldn't get stuck or forget what to say or anything. Try to feel that way in front of all those people.
 
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If you're confident about your research, then there is no need to be afraid.
 
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You can do it

laminatedevildoll said:
Maybe it doesn't seem so bad to most people, but I dread oral presentations. But, I got a research fellowship for the summer, and I have to make a presentation about my research in front of the other recipients and the Dean of the college. The presentation is a month away, and I'm already feeling the pressure. I don't know if I have to memorize what I've to say or use notes, but I have to use powerpoint. Am I just very backward? How can I get over myself? Any advice?
I feel your pain, but you can do this. I had to take a class in public speaking, so i'll share with you some of the things that i learned.

write your speach down and practice it until you know it. But when you
give your speach just use a note system. Your note system should be broken into the major parts of your speach: openeing, middle, closing, ending. remember that your note system is just a tool that you use to keep track of where you are in your speach.


when you reach the podium don't look up at the crowd immediately. use thos few moments to compose yourself and organize your notes. when you are ready look up and address the audience. It's important that you memorize the first few lines of your speach so you don't have to look down at your notes immediately.

don't forget to use hand gestures. don't just stand there gripping the lecturn in fright! make eye contact with people in the crowd. don't just stare at the far wall.

by giving a powerpoint presentation that will actually make giving your speach easier. the crowd will be focused on the slide show and not on you so much.
being nervous is normal but the people in the crowd will not notice as much as you think.

it would be great for you if you could practice giving your speach in the actual room where your speach will take place. that way you can become comfortabe with your environment.
 

brewnog

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I disagree with Matt. Every presentation I've ever had to make has been assessed heavily on clarity and confidence (although the content is definitely important too!).

Monique has this one sorted. Practice by yourself, in front of a mirror, and make sure you speak up! Then, if you like, get some friends in.

Presentations are ALWAYS better if you approach them somewhat casually, as if you are having a conversation with someone. Rehearsing lines word-for-word makes for a dull presentation, and people won't listen.

Memorise the key points, know your subject inside out, speak clearly, and relax!
 

jma2001

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There was a famous survey that showed more people are afraid of speaking in public than of dying, so you are certainly not alone. The best thing to do is practice speaking in front of groups, you will become more comfortable with it over time. There is more information in this thread that might be helpful to you:

https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=77757
 
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A few things to remember:

1) Stick to the main points.

2) DON'T ramble on. Nobody cares about minute details, especially if your sentences have over 100 words in them.

3) They WON'T eat you alive. The most they can do is throw you out of the fellowship, but come on, you KNOW you are good enough to be there.

Practice in front of a mirror, like Monique said, practice in front of friends and family, etc. It will help you get ready. Just relax and take it easy.

PL
 

jma2001

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Poop-Loops said:
2) DON'T ramble on. Nobody cares about minute details, especially if your sentences have over 100 words in them.
Yes, very important, especially for me since I have a tendency to ramble and repeat myself. That is why it's a good idea to write your entire presentation out, word for word, before reducing it to bullet points. That helps to get it clear in your mind exactly how much to say, and not say, about each point. Also, if you write it out word for word, you can use the Word Count feature of your word processing software to get an idea of how long your presentation is. Most speakers average around 120 words per minute, so if you take the total number of words and divide by 120, that will tell you approximately how many minutes the presentation will run. I have used that formula many times, and found it accurate to within fifteen seconds.
 

Monique

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jma2001 said:
I get an "invalid thread" message with that link.
That can be right, I will quote some of the important messages here:

hitssquad said:
To be persuasive, a speech should be extemporaneous. This means it should be somewhere between pre-written and ad-lib. To make an extemporaneous speech, basically you make an outline you want to follow, and than practice making up the text of your speech as you follow the outline. This way, your speech will not be as dull as a pre-written speech, and it will not be as rambling as a completely ad-lib speech. You will be making your words up as you go along, but each sub-point you make will be part of the logical outline that you pre-wrote and therefore nothing should seem too out of place or off-topic.

An idea to follow when writing your outline is the "rule of three." 1. Tell them what you are going to tell them. 2. Tell them. 3. Tell them what you just told them. Part 1 is the Introduction, Part 2 is the body, and Part 3 is the conclusion of your speech.

As you are in the process of writing your outline and practicing your speech, you should notice that your speech is lacking in persuasiveness without facts to back up whatever point you are making. This entails research. As you come up with backing facts and graphics, you can write them on large "visual aid" cards to use during your speech. If you practice your speech enough, you should get to the point where you naturally grab the visual aids as you need them to show the audience to back up your argument at the appropriate points in the pre-written speech outline.

But delivering a speech well will not guarantee persuasiveness. Knowing your audience is another important part of persuasive speaking. Every audience will have its peculiar biases, and knowing these biases and playing off of them may be like a back door through which you can enter into their collective trust.

[..]

Being familiar with your speech outline and ways to ad-lib to it will help you become less nervous. The way to become familiar with your speech outline is to write it early and practice every day giving an extemporaneous speech that follows it. As the outline becomes more familiar, you will become less nervous.
Moonbear said:
I used to run a workshop on public speaking. There's a lot you can do to make yourself more persuasive, and there are a number of books on the subject.

In addition to hitssquad's advice of telling them what you're going to say, saying it, then telling them what you said, here are a few more tips:

Have no more than three main points. At the beginning of the speech, outline those three points for the audience, make sure you can connect each of the three points and do that for your audience as well.

In addition to choosing your words carefully and rehearsing the text so it flows smoothly, also rehearse your diction and timing. What do you want to emphasize? Make sure you say it in a way that emphasizes it (inflection and intonation...you don't want to bore your audience with a monotone speech). Choose words that fit your own speaking style, otherwise you'll stumble when you try to change your style to fit the speech. Practice clear diction...say every consonant...so your audience can understand you; we often don't notice how many words we drop letters out of when speaking. Do you use filler words when you get nervous or can't think of the next word? (Ah, um, like) To some extent, practicing your speech so you know which word comes next will help with that. In addition, have a friend help you out by practicing speaking in front of them, or answering random questions, and have your friend point out whenever you say a filler word so you get used to hearing yourself say it and can stop doing it (we usually don't notice our overuse of these fillers until someone else points it out to us).

Also, consider your mannerisms. Standing stock still is just as bad as pacing relentlessly. If you are using visual aids, such as slides, remember to face the audience, not the screen. Try not to fiddle with pointers, microphone cords, or any other distractions (get to the room ahead of time and remove anything you suspect will be a distraction if you can...such as an extra chair you might be tempted to lean on). Watch your hand gestures. If you're someone who talks with your hands, control that urge. Excessive gestures can be distracting. If you need to gesture for emphasis, keep your elbows down and outward and your hands up and centered...this keeps attention on you and your face, not out at your fingertips somewhere else.

Do you need to use a microphone? Find out ahead and practice according to the type of microphone you will have. If you will have one of those small ones that clips onto your clothing, attach it near your collar on the side of your body that is in the direction of the screen or center of the stage if you are not standing directly in the center facing the audience, this way you are talking in the direction of the microphone, not away from it, so it will pick up your voice more clearly. If you are going to be standing at a podium or using another form of stationary microphone, adjust it so it is directly aimed at your mouth and speak into it from about 6 inches away...this is the optimal working distance for microphones...any closer and you will sound garbled like you've swallowed the microphone...any further and the microphone won't pick up your voice as well so you'll fade out. Also, with that sort of microphone, remember if you turn your head to look at something else, such as a screen, then you need to do so in a way that keeps your mouth near the microphone or else nobody will hear you when you turn your head.

Some of this is obviously presentation style, not just how to write a persuasive speech, but it all goes together for giving an effective presentation. Plus, when you know about things like hand gestures and how the AV equipment works, I find it helps reduce the nervousness because you know if there's an equipment failure, you can handle it. Practice for those eventualities too...what happens if the projector dies and you have to talk without slides? Perhaps have your figures printed and in a folder so you can take them out and re-create the main points on a whiteboard (but keep that tucked away if you don't have problems so you aren't tempted to fiddle with the paper while speaking). Or, be prepared to speak extra loudly if the microphone doesn't work. Those are really the two main AV issues to worry about, and being prepared and at least *appearing* unruffled will make you look even more professional should there be a problem.

Even seasoned professionals get a little nervous before public speaking. I need to get to work now, but will try to return later and give you some tips on how to hide that (you can't just tell your hands to stop shaking, but there are things you can do to keep the audience from noticing).

By the way, does anyone think this thread should be moved to a more general topic? I think effective speech-making is a topic everyone needs to know how to do well, so while it does relate to social sciences, it might be more useful to be put out there where more people will see it?
Njorl said:
Having something worth saying helps significantly. While it is possible for some people to give a rousing speech about anything, I suggest you wait until you are more accomplished before professing the blueness of the sky.

Love your topic. If you don't, your audience wont.

Make your love - their love. I love my kids, but if I talk about my kids very long, other people get bored. Bill Cosby, on the otherhand, talks about his kids as all kids. When he talks about his kids, he is talking about the kids of every parent in the audience. He is talking about the kids that the parents used to be. They connect.

Njorl
 
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nightmare-like???? yeah, only when u didnt prepare the spech carefuly. even when u dont speak well, but when u finish, they ALL must CLAP their hands, think of it before u stand infront of em.
 
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Astronuc

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First of all - Know your subject - so that you can talk about it confidently and respond to questions.

Knowing the subject means not only knowing about the particular research one does and how one does it, but also knowing the background, i.e. history of the area in which one does research and why it is significant.

A presentation is an opportunity to share what one has learned. I actually enjoy speaking to a group on whatever subject I find interesting.

So structure the presentation like an essay. Start with something general as to the history and background of the general area of research. Then begin to focus on the particular area of what was done in one's research project. One can summarize the results and perhaps state if confirmatory or contradictory. It is always interesting in an experiment to learn something new.

The main part of the presentation focus on the research done and the results.

Wrapping up the presentation, restate in summary what was done, provide conclusions, and then ask for questions.

Ta da!
 
Thank you all for your helpful advice. I think it will be better if I start preparing for it early rather than doing it the night before. I don't mind giving presentations in front of a normal audience, but some of these people are a year older than me, meaning that they are almost done with their majors, so that can be quite intimidating. I guess I lack in self-confidence, and I have to get over it. In any case, I guess I will just do it, and I guess it doesn't seem like a bad thing when compared to death.
 
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Astronuc

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laminatedevildoll said:
Thank you all for your helpful advice. I think it will be better if I start preparing for it early rather than doing it the night before. I don't mind giving presentations in front of a normal audience, but some of these people are a year older than me, meaning that they are almost done with their majors, so that can be quite intimidating. I guess I lack in self-confidence, and I have to get over it. In any case, I guess I will just do it, and I guess it doesn't seem like a bad thing when compared to death.
Start working on the background and introduction now.

And remember, you're doing the research. You - are the expert.

Don't let the older folk intimidate you.

Talk to them like you are posting on PF. Just don't do :tongue2: or :yuck:

:biggrin:
 

Will

I have found that practicing your speech in front of just one person replicates the tension that you will be feeling in front of a full audience, and will thus help you prepare. If you can get to the point where you don't feel so akward in front of your friend, or who ever you are practicing on, I have found that this helps a lot in giving speeches.
 
I am planning to practice my speech in front of a friend who also happens to be an expert at speaking in groups or in a classroom environment. I wish I was more like her, outgoing and not afraid to speak up. I don't know what's wrong with me. It's a psychological thing.

I am planning to work on my presentation right away. When I was in high school, I used to write everything I wanted to say on powerpoint and read it straight from there. Now, I realize that it wasn't a very smart thing to do. I mean, I can get over giving speeches in front of people when I am prepared, it's just that... I am a weirdo and I have weird phobias.
 
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Monique

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laminatedevildoll said:
but some of these people are a year older than me, meaning that they are almost done with their majors, so that can be quite intimidating.
Talk about intimidating, I can relate. I once as a bachelor had to give a presentation for an audience of professors and among a row of other professor presentations. Ofcourse they have a whole life story to tell with experiments and many impressing pictures, while my presentation was 'just' about my research and with one graph of actual results.

The people might be a year older than you, that does not mean that you don't have anything interesting to tell! (even when they are all professors) Just be into your own story, they will be as well. What is the subject that you are going to give a talk about? :smile:
 
Monique said:
Talk about intimidating, I can relate. I once as a bachelor had to give a presentation for an audience of professors and among a row of other professor presentations. Ofcourse they have a whole life story to tell with experiments and many impressing pictures, while my presentation was 'just' about my research and with one graph of actual results.

The people might be a year older than you, that does not mean that you don't have anything interesting to tell! (even when they are all professors) Just be into your own story, they will be as well. What is the subject that you are going to give a talk about? :smile:
Subject:
High Energy Astrophysics
The Detection and Measurement of Celestial Radiation

I cannot imagine giving a presentation in front of all professors.

You know what, it doesn't seem bad after all. The key is to know my subject really well, so I can answer those follow-up questions. I appreciate everyone's encouraging advice.
 
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Hello laminatedevildoll,

Advice to beginning physics speakers, by James C. Garland
http://www.cat.gov.in/symposiums/conf/speak.html [Broken]
http://epswww.unm.edu/facstaff/jgeiss/eps490/adv-beg-speakers.pdf [Broken]


From my physicsforums journal, entry #25
My personal advice for a good talk:
- Prevent using too many transparencies. Maybe 20 transparencies for a 45 minutes talk.
- Don't write too much on a transparency, the font size should be great enough (can't be great enough, believe me). Graphics on a tranparency should be very large.
- Explain diagrams/graphics, and go slowly. Keep in mind that the audience sees the diagrams for the first time. Explain what is displayed on the x- and y-axis, and what this diagram means. If you explain the diagram, use a rod or a laser pointer.
- Don't use too many formulas and don't derive every equation, only the relevant ones.
- Give the audience enough time so that it can examine your transparency. Before you switch to the next transparency, count till 10. I know for you the speaker it will appear like ages, but the listeners really need time to analyze a graphic. If you switch directly to the next foil without a break, the transition will appear abrupt.
- Don't exceed your allotted time.
- If possible, don't try to use too much maths, rather try to explain it intuitively and visually.
- Talk loud and clear. In one presentation, the speaker's voice was too quiet and he talked too fast.
- Body language plays a great role: have eye contact, don't just look at the wall or your feet while talking to your audience. Gesticulate sometimes with your hands, don't stand like a tree.
- If you use Powerpoint or beamer class (PDF) you can let a line of text
pop up. However, never let each single line of text pop up! Your speech wouldn't seem fluent.
I once saw a speaker who let pop up every single point of his talk. The result was that his talk was not fluent. And moreover, at the end, when the audience asked questions, he had difficulties to jump from one chapter to the other one quickly, because he had to go through all the tranparencies. He had like 100 transparencies (powerpoint) because every single line popped up.
- The problem described above with jumping from chapter no. 2 to chapter no. 6 very quickly requires some sort of links list, that is provided for example in the beamer class.
Tipp: If you have to make a presentation for a seminar and
you already know LaTeX, then I can recommend the "Beamer Class".
https://sourceforge.net/projects/latex-beamer/
(see my entry #10, "Latex in Windows and good PDF-files")
- At last, do a dress rehearsal of your presentation. Some of my fellow students told me, they talked in front of their friends. You will recognize where you still got problems in expressing yourself. And you will also get an impression of how it will be like to talk in front of an audience.
 
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ZapperZ

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laminatedevildoll said:
Subject:
High Energy Astrophysics
The Detection and Measurement of Celestial Radiation

I cannot imagine giving a presentation in front of all professors.

You know what, it doesn't seem bad after all. The key is to know my subject really well, so I can answer those follow-up questions. I appreciate everyone's encouraging advice.
This is one of those "skills" in which the ONLY way to be good at it is to actually DO it, and do it a few times. You can prepare yourself by reading books and listening to advices (which are all good and you should do) till you're blue, but you'll never be good at it till you've done it a few times. So consider this as a learning experience. Do not be hard on yourself if you make mistakes, or think you didn't do as well. Just learn from it and try to do better next time - and there will be many next time if you continue to pursue your degree or career in this field.

.. and just to make you feel a little bit better, my first "professional" presentation was at the APS March Meeting in St. Louis back in... oh.. 1996 maybe? I was still a "naive" graduate student presenting our fresh batch of experimental results to an audience of physicists, including ONE Nobel Prize laureate! Only an inanimate piece of brick would not be anxious and nervous in such a situation. But I got through, and we all do, eventually.

Zz.
 
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laminatedevildoll said:
Maybe it doesn't seem so bad to most people, but I dread oral presentations. But, I got a research fellowship for the summer, and I have to make a presentation about my research in front of the other recipients and the Dean of the college. The presentation is a month away, and I'm already feeling the pressure. I don't know if I have to memorize what I've to say or use notes, but I have to use powerpoint. Am I just very backward? How can I get over myself? Any advice?

i understand wat u r goin thru... even i undergo the same thing in all my presentations :uhh: ... but in the end they always turn up good... wel... wenever u feel distressed just think abt the relief which u gonna get after the whole thing gets over well :cool: ... well it hlps me a lot o:) ... n i hope it helps u too... n bst of luk... :rolleyes: also powerpt isnt tat too bad... jst make descriptive slides & just speak wat ur mind says abt the slide... afteral u r the genius there... & ONE VERY IMP THING JUST THINK EVERYBODY ELSE IN THE ROOM IS DUMB WATSOEVER....
 
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Monique

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What is happening with the spelling skills of the people today? :uhh:
 

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