Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Are you a Speaker? Tips on Abstracts, PowerPoint and Speaking

I'm about to give a talk about preventing #1 viral cause of birth defects, cytomegalovirus (CMV) in Utah.

I found their tips on how to make the most effective abstract, PowerPoint presentation and speech very helpful:

The abstract should be well written and organized in a coherent manner.
  • The amount of information to be presented should be appropriate for the proposed session length and format.
  • The abstract should clearly describe the presentation’s goals and learner outcomes.
  • The abstract should provide prospective participants enough information to determine if the session will meet their needs.
  • If research results are included, they should be clearly described and supported by statistical findings with the conclusions supported by the results.

Presenter Guidelines and Suggestions
Start by reading these tips from Jeffrey Cufaude's Blog entitled: Idea Architects

  • If you plan on using interactive techniques remember to plan the appropriate amount of time required to allow your audience to interact.
  • Create opportunities for participants to share with others and compare information, offer data, react to ideas, or answer questions.
  • Help participants interact with the information you are presenting (interactive handouts with fill-ins and brainstorm lists).
  • Allow participants to observe the subject or action you are presenting.
  • Rehearse your presentation beforehand to make sure your presentation is not too long or too short. The actual delivery of the presentation usually takes longer than the rehearsal.
  • The average 8 ½” page, typed, double spaced with one-inch margins contains 250 words. The average speaker can present approximately 6 of these pages in 12 minutes. Have text that is highly legible with well-marked cues for visuals.
  • Speak directly into the microphone in a normal voice and do not handle the microphone while speaking. There should be a comfortable distance between your mouth and the microphone. If you turn away from the microphone the audience may not hear your voice.
  • During the question and answer period of your session, repeat all questions and/or comments into the microphone.
  • Make sure to look up at the audience and shift your gaze around the room.
  • Use active words, brief and concise phrases and short sentences.
  • If you are using materials in your presentation (pictures, charts, graph, etc.) that are not original work, remember to cite the source.
  • Give participants 3-4 seconds to adjust to a new image/slide before you begin speaking again. This will also give you a chance to take a deep breath.

Most common complaints attendees have of speakers:
  • Spoke too fast. If you think you are speaking too fast, you most likely are. Speak loudly and clearly.
  • Topic discussed did not match the information listed in the abstract.
  • Too much information was presented.
  • Did not speak into the microphone, mumbled or spoke too softly.
  • Did not repeat questions asked by the audience into the microphone.
  • Visual aids were cluttered and hard to read.

Power Point Tips
  • Keep your slides as "clean" as possible - minimize text, logos and background pictures.
  • Use no more than 8 lines of text in an easy to read, 24-point font.
  • Avoid using all capitals, use bold or italics for emphasis.
  • Clearly label graphs and charts.
  • Use contrasting colors when choosing backgrounds and text colors. The best combination is a blue background with white or yellow lettering or white background with black or blue text. Avoid using red text.
Poster Making Tips
The following internet sites contain useful suggestions for preparing effective posters:
  1. Poster Making 101
  2. How to Make a Poster Using PowerPoint
  3. Making Posters Using PowerPoint

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