Tips for organizing research presentations

Guiding students through the process of constructing successful research projects was the goal of the workshop “Research Presentations 101” by Corin White, Curriculum Research Associate at the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Center (UROC) at California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) on Oct. 5.

The first step is to consider one’s audience. While the presentation is to be centered around the topic and showcasing research, it’s important to keep in mind language and terminology that will be understood across the board. 

Next, consider what the message or impact will be. Why is the topic important? If there is one main take away, contemplate its importance.  

The title slide and introduction must include some key information. Name affiliations and cite research for specific undergraduate programs or clubs. In addition, the project title, location and time period should be included. 

Programs or funding agencies logos, along with pictures of research and one “in-action” of gathering information should take an estimated 15 to 30 seconds to go over during the presentation.

The next two to three slides will detail the background and objectives, and should take about one to two minutes. This includes topics that “set the stage” for one’s research. 

Visuals should be incorporated and can vary depending on the research. Showcasing one’s data or findings, and pictures or figures help support and convey the problem being addressed. 

One’s “methods” should be a description of the study design and any possible study groups that took place, encompassing framework and analysis that was applied. 

Flow charts or diagrams can showcase this work. The next slide should detail the results that came from the methods used to acquire the data, involving more images to support research. 

After presenting the slides, discuss the significance of the findings, including context from previous studies, limitations and recommendations and future directions these findings and studies can lead to. 

White highlighted making sure you are acknowledging and thanking any project co-authors, mentors and contributors, as well as referencing and utilizing MLA format for sources. 

If using Zoom to present the research, it is beneficial to test sound, microphone and sharing capabilities beforehand. 

White notes when presenting in-person wear comfortable, business-casual clothing and wear the outfit while practicing – to ensure a smooth and seamless presentation.

Be prepared to answer question such as:

  • Why are you passionate about your research?
  • Why is your research important for society, business or public administration?
  • How does your research fit into the broader significance of your work?
  • What are your current research interests and career goals?

These questions better prepare a student to engage with their audience. While the presentation itself is mapped out, it is important to feel confident and knowledgeable about one’s research.

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