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My worst nightmare (oral presentations)

  1. Jun 18, 2005 #1
    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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  3. Jun 18, 2005 #2
    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.
     
  4. Jun 18, 2005 #3

    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
     
  5. Jun 18, 2005 #4
    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.
     
  6. Jun 18, 2005 #5
    If you're confident about your research, then there is no need to be afraid.
     
  7. Jun 18, 2005 #6
    You can do it

    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.
     
  8. Jun 18, 2005 #7

    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!
     
  9. Jun 18, 2005 #8

    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
     
  10. Jun 18, 2005 #9

    Monique

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  11. Jun 18, 2005 #10

    jma2001

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  12. Jun 18, 2005 #11
    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
     
  13. Jun 18, 2005 #12

    jma2001

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    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.
     
  14. Jun 19, 2005 #13

    Monique

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    That can be right, I will quote some of the important messages here:

     
  15. Jun 19, 2005 #14
    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.
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2005
  16. Jun 19, 2005 #15

    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!
     
  17. Jun 19, 2005 #16
    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.
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2005
  18. Jun 19, 2005 #17

    Astronuc

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    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:
     
  19. Jun 19, 2005 #18
    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.
     
  20. Jun 19, 2005 #19
    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.
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2005
  21. Jun 19, 2005 #20

    Monique

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    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:
     
  22. Jun 19, 2005 #21
    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.
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2005
  23. Jun 20, 2005 #22
    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.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
  24. Jun 20, 2005 #23

    ZapperZ

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    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.
     
  25. Jun 20, 2005 #24

    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....
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2005
  26. Jun 20, 2005 #25

    Monique

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