Professional Presentations In A Nutshell

by Naveen Jain and Princesa VanBuren Hansen

1. Dress To Impress. Not only is the appearance of your project important, but your appearance is as well. Don’t be afraid to break out the suit and tie. Dressing up gives judges an implicit signal that you mean business and helps you scores some quick ethos points. You will want to wear a tie which matches with your project board in most cases.

2. Be Knowledgeable. Be Calm. Commons sense right? Knowing the ins and outs of your project is a must before you speak to the judges. I recommend reading up on your project in the weeks before the science fair. Keep asking yourself, “what if?” If you are able to articulate even the smallest details of your project you will be sure to impress the judges.

3. Statistics, Statistics, Statistics. There is nothing like some good old logos to sway your judges. Facts, figures, and graphs are an easy visualization to back up your research. When you present judges with volumes of statistical information, you are making a noticeable statement about how much time you have poured into your project. Not to mention, statistical analysis can win you many special awards.

4. Keep It Simple Stupid. This technique took me a while to learn. While your judges are distinguished scientists, you cannot expect them to be experts on your project. Use simple words. Never assume that some aspect of your project does not require an explanation. The best way to practice is to give several presentations in front of a family member and ask for feedback.

5. Stay Focused. Waiting for judges can be excruciatingly boring. You must resist the urge to wander off during the science fair. You will have plenty of time to see projects after the judging is completed. Standing in front of your project may be superficial, but when you are the only one standing amongst a crowd of resting presenters, you will separate yourself from the crowd.

6. Eye Contact. You would be amazed how much eye contact can help you connect with your judges. Not only should you use eye contact when you are speaking, but you should use eye contact when you are listening as well. Eye contact is a visual cue which lets judges know you care about what you are saying and hearing.

7. What Happens At Home, Stays At Home. Always remember you are being judged in a scientific competition. While personal anecdotes may help you make your point, you will do well to stick to the science. Whenever you choose to bring personal elements into the conversation, you are gambling on whether or not the judge will connect to your example.

8. Do You Hear The People Sing? Listen to your judges. Do not simply preach from a soapbox. Your presentation should be a two-way conversation. You need to listen carefully to your judges to ensure that you are fully answering the questions they ask. An interactive conversation is much more indicative of your scientific knowledge than a memorized speech.

Last modified: Wednesday, June 22, 2011, 3:20 PM