So you have attended a few good conferences as part of your academic career and now have been asked to deliver a presentation in one. Presenting a paper at an international conference is a crucial part of scientific communication. But how do you calm your nerves right before facing the audience? Well, your preparation should involve detailed research, practice, consistency, and an appropriate audience that would resonate with your work.
You need to first ensure that the conference is legitimate and not a predatory one. There has been a growth of such predatory conferences in this increasingly digitized post-COVID-19 world. You may find yourself receiving invitations to conferences that may not be authentic. You should, therefore, be careful about submitting papers to or attending such questionable conferences.
Conferences have traditionally been a destination for sharing and learning about new research findings and connecting with similar minds. Getting the opportunity to present a paper is a huge deal as the screening process is usually strict. But, predatory conferences work on the principle of profit maximization and continually request for more and more attendance, accept all papers, inundate the inbox using sketchy email ids and respond only too quickly to your presentation proposal. These are warning signs to look out for before committing to the conference.
Presenting at the Conference
Now that you have established the authenticity of the conference, it is time to prepare for the presentation.Here are a few tips to help guide you through it:
1. Organize your thoughts
When presenting to a large audience, you need to know what you are talking about. Your research needs to be thorough, your content effective, and the flow organized. You need to make sense to the audience and hold their attention.
2. Know your audience
If you know who your audience is before you present, it will be easier for you to resonate with them. This can be done by taking the demography, nationalities, and cultures into account and present in a way such that it is more impressive. You can also ask the event manager to help you regarding these specifications.
3. Make descriptive slides
Your audience could be a mix of nationalities with different language comforts. It is always easier to understand a concept when reading the gist during the presentation. Some non-native speakers may be able to grasp the content faster by reading the text on the slides.
4. Add visuals
Sometimes texts can be replaced with graphics such as pie charts and bar graphs. They make understanding easier and the slides more presentable and effective. Empirical research such as those involving engineering subjects are better reflected through clean and simple visuals.
5. Be attentive
Remember that your main aim is to convey an important idea and share your findings with the scientific community. Therefore, you need to pay attention to how your audience is responding: ask if they have questions, convey in a different language if need be, modulate your pace according to the response.
If you have the opportunity to present your paper, you are already doing something right. Now, you just need to show the world why you are where you are. Practice several times before you actually present before the audience. Time yourself. Keep within the limits of the time allotted to you. Any good presenter knows how much to speak and when not to drag on. If you find yourself running short of time, just skip to the most important takeaway.
7. Be prepared for technical failures
It is not very unlikely that just before you are about to give your presentation, your memory card or flash drive refuses to cooperate, or your laptop decides to give you a hard time. It is always better to keep Murphy’s Law in mind and be well equipped to handle such technical failures. Keep backups of your backup. Upload your presentation to a cloud service so that it is always within your reach. Let the conference organizers know about the kind of technology you would be needing to present beforehand.
8. Have a good body language
Having a confident body language is an integral part of presenting. Scientific conferences usually deal with a lot of data and facts. There is a high possibility of the presentation going a little on the tedious side. In such times, your engaging tone, your gestures, voice, posture, positivity, and gaze can hold your audience’s attention. Do not simply read out of your notes or stare at your laptop screen. Instead, try to engage your viewers as if you are having a conversation with them and make them feel involved. Be confident in your approach.
9. Encourage discussion
Lastly, if time permits, you can open a discourse among the audience for a round of questions and answers once the presentation is done. This promotes understanding. Questions from the audience show that they are receptive and genuinely interested in your paper. It is also an opportunity to bring up points that were skipped over during the presentation but are needed for better understanding.
Conquer the stage
Once you master these tips, you should be able to deliver a good presentation confidently. The key to getting better at presentations is to attend more conferences. The more you practice, the more comfortable you will feel presenting. Any task appears daunting the first time you do it. Do not be afraid of making mistakes. You are only human. The opportunity to present a paper itself is a big achievement and should be remembered with pride. However it goes, it will be a memorable experience.
With travel restrictions being imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, students and academicians are now able to attend international conferences online from their own residences. This growing shift towards online conferences should be utilized to its fullest. With no travelling costs and time constraints, it is a boon to scholars worldwide.
“Considering presenting a paper at a scholarly conference? Choose carefully” by Jeffrey Beall, Author, Editage Insights, viewed on 9 Dec 2022,