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Summer Engineering Experience (SEE) Student Science Library Information Guide: Presentations

A collection of resources to aid in researching questions, exploring topics, and creating reports or presentations about energy use in the fields of engineering.

Tips for Creating a Great Presentation

1. Gather your notes and determine the key points Your presentation is a summary of your project. You will not have time to present everything you did, so it should only cover the most important pieces of information from your project that you want your audience to walk away with. Start by gathering all of your notes and research and creating an outline of the key points which might include:

  • What was your assignment or goal?
  • What object did you design?
  • How will your object be useful?
  • What design choices did you make and why? 
  • Future Directions - what additional things would you have done if you had more time?

  

2. Make sure you have a visual - Engineering involves designing and building objects and is inherently visual. A presentation should have a visual component which could be slides, sketches on a whiteboard, a hand-out, or the physical object itself that will help your audience understand what you have created. If I created the Medi-teddy, it would be great to have one on hand to show my audience or pass around, if possible. You could also include a photo or a diagram in your slides or hand-outs.

3. Avoid a lot of text in your visual - If there is text, it should be easy and fast to read. Bullet points work better than paragraphs.

4. If using a hand-out or slides, be sure to include a diagram, illustration, schematic, or photo - The slides or hand-outs should not be all text. 

5. All content in your hand-out or slide should serve a purpose in helping your audience understand your project -The diagram, illustration, photo, or schematic should match the written content and be labeled. For example, if I'm designed the Medi-teddy, a photo of it or diagram of it would be useful to include, but an illustration of a piece of fruit wouldn't make sense.

6. Make sure everything is easy to see and read from a distanceFonts should be easy to read and large enough for a person to see in the back of the room. Try standing far away and see if you can read your own slides or white-board drawings. Leave enough space around text and and diagrams so that the content doesn't look too crowded. Choose colors that are easy to tell apart and see from a distance. 

7. Give proper credit - Include citations for information that you obtained from resources during your research. Make sure anyone that worked on the project has their name included on the slide or handout.

The Medi Teddy. Image from https://www.medi-teddy.org/.

Tips for a Giving a Great Presentation

1. For group projects, each person should say something during the presentation.

2. Look at your presentation and determine the key points you need to mention - You will not have time to talk about everything you did, so it should only cover the most important pieces of information from your project that you want your audience to walk away with. Start by gathering all of your notes and research and creating an outline of the key points which might include:

  • What was your assignment or goal?
  • What object did you design?
  • How will your object be useful?
  • What design choices did you make and why? 
  • Future Directions - what additional things would you have done if you had more time?  

 

3. Have notes prepared - You should not read off of notes or slides during a presentation, but it is useful to have some notes prepared to help make sure you cover all of your material or to help remind you of specific details like numbers as you are talking. Prepare some brief notes in bullet points that you can glance at if you need to during your presentation. You can use use paper notes or add notes to your slides.

4. Practice at home in front of a mirror and with friends or classmates -  Practice is the key to a successful presentation! It is completely normal to feel nervous giving presentations, and practicing can help calm those nerves. Practicing is very important whether public speaking makes you nervous or not though. Practice your presentation until you can give it with only quick glances at your notes and you feel confident in the delivery. It's also a great idea to have someone else watch you practice and give you some feedback.

5. Time your presentation and make sure it's the correct length - The only way to make sure that your presentation is the right length is to time it during your practice. 

6. Speak clearly, loudly, and at a reasonable pace - These are all things that you should pay attention to while practicing your talk. Many people talk faster when they are nervous, so try to slow down if you notice this happening.

7. Make eye contact with your audience - You should spend most of the time looking at your audience rather than your notes or your slides. Looking at your audience will make them feel more engaged and help them pay attention to your presentation.

8. Point to your visuals as you talk about them - You have visuals to help make the presentation clearer, so gesture or point to them whenever you are referring to them. It's also important to explain any visuals. For example, if your visual is a schematic or a diagram, make sure you spend some time explaining it.

9. Be prepared to answer questions - Presentations usually have time at the end for questions. Spend some time beforehand thinking about what your audience might ask you and how you would answer those questions. 

 

Illustration by Yoo Jung Kim