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10 minute undergraduate presentation


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I am presenting at an undergraduate research conference for my university, and we are given 10 minutes to present. How would you break down time/number slides/topic?

 

I was thinking:

2 minutes introduction on myself, the project, and ideas in the field

2 minutes on different theories behind what we're looking at

2 minutes on what we actually looked at/our methods

2 minutes on the results and implications

2 minutes on why these results are significant

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A good rule of thumb I go by is 1 slide per minute.  The amount of time spent on each section really depends on the project itself.  Personally, I make the slides first, then practice the talk with a friend before making any adjustment on rate of speech or content on each slide.  The bulk of your time should be on your experiment and the results.  One minute is enough to talk about implications and future work.  Then practice a lot! 

Good luck.

 

Applied to:
UT, WashU. Notre Dame. UWashington.

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Are you an undergrad presenting your own work? Who is the audience?

 

I am presenting my own meta analysis, but including some of the work previously done by my lab group, which I have contributed to.

 

The audience is a small group of faculty and anyone else from the university who want to attend.

 

A good rule of thumb I go by is 1 slide per minute.  The amount of time spent on each section really depends on the project itself.  Personally, I make the slides first, then practice the talk with a friend before making any adjustment on rate of speech or content on each slide.  The bulk of your time should be on your experiment and the results.  One minute is enough to talk about implications and future work.  Then practice a lot! 

Good luck.

 

The 1 slide/minute rule of thumb sounds really good for my project! Thanks.

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ok, then as suggested, concentrate on your own research and lead with it. Provide just as much background as needed to understand your research question. Talk about why the question is interesting and the motivation for your research, then introduce the specifics (methodology, design) and talk about your results and their interpretation. I'd talk about other people's results and how your results fit with them at the end, or not at all (beyond what you'd need in the intro to set up the question).

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Here are my thoughts, but everyone has different styles and obviously there are a lot of ways to make a good presentation. I think my style is one of these ways, but you can read it and judge for yourself.

 

I would even say that 1 slide per minute is the fastest that you want to go -- don't be afraid to go slower (i.e. spend more than a minute on some slides). Remember that figures usually require extra time for the audience to digest (read the axes, look at all the lines/points, contemplate the relationship presented).

 

From your original suggested outline, I would say with only 10 minutes, you want to spend more time on your own work (as others have suggested). Remember that a presentation does not have to tell people everything about your project. Just pick maybe 1 to 3 things you want people to walk away knowing and then structure your slides to lead up to these things. 

 

With your current suggested timeline, you are spending 4 minutes on introductory stuff. Things like "ideas in the field" or "theories we're looking at" can take up a lot of time and also divert the audience's attention (that is, they might end up asking questions about those things instead of your actual work). I would spend only 2 minutes total doing introductory things and only introduce the theory you need to explain your method or results later on. I would stick to things that motivated the project -- i.e. why should we care about your project? I really don't think it's possible to cover "many different" theories in just 2 minutes.

 

For your methods, I think a common mistake is to fully explain every detail, as if you want the audience to be able to repeat what you did. Unless your method is the innovation, I would mainly gloss over the details and just talk about important steps (especially anything that is different from "normal" or any key steps/assumptions that can affect your results). They can always ask questions if they care about e.g. the exact parameters of your algorithm/software/experiment. However, this might not apply if this is for example, a presentation for a lab course or a presentation of your senior project, for evaluation. If it's a "conference-like" presentation, then the results are usually the most important part (and most people would already be familiar with common methods anyways).

 

This should hopefully leave at least 5 minutes for you to talk about your results and their significance / comparison to others. But remember, you only really want to impress on the audience a small number of take-home messages so don't talk about everything. Just pick out the very most important ideas for this short 10 minute talk!

 

Finally, practicing is important! I would also run through the slides with my coworkers/supervisor if possible. Ideally, I would find friends who would be presenting at the same conference and practice with them beforehand. Test your colour choices, font sizes, aspect ratio, contrast, etc. on projectors too!

Edited by TakeruK
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Not sure if it fits in (and too late to suggest) but a quick summary (take home messages) at the very end will be very helpful.

 

Also, try to put more figures and less texts on your presentation. Keep it simple is always better imo. A rule that you can follow is limit yourself with 7 items per slide. An "item" can be the title, a figure, or a sentence.

 

The rest is kinda summed up in TakeruK's post

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I'm with TakeruK!

 

1 minute to introduce you, your project, and overview of the presentation

1 - 1.5 minutes for intro, rationale, and questions (you only want to highlight the main points here)

1 minute for methods (you only need to give an overview, if people want to know more, they can ask..and for a meta-analysis, this shouldn't take you long)

5-6 minutes on results with discussion incorporated in

1-1.5 minute for 3 take home messages/conclusions

 

For me, the most important thing is ending off on the 3 key take homes...every project will have a variety of results, but sum up the 3 most important ones and briefly tie in their implications.

 

As the others have said, it's really about presenting what you found - so that should be the majority of your presentation!

good luck!

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