Planning effective research presentations (virtual & in-person)

RDI Network
October 2021
7 min read

We all want our research presentations to capture the audience’s interest from beginning to end. However, we have all experienced a long, tedious presentation before. Audiences can quickly become distracted, and stop paying attention. This chance is even higher with virtual presentations.
So, here are a few tips for effective presenting: 


  • Set the Environment. Just as you would in-person, you want to set the online environment accordingly. Find somewhere within your working space that offers natural lighting and minimal glare. Try to minimise any clutter or mess in the background so there are no distractions. Another option is to blur your background, so that the camera is only on you. If you cannot leave your video turned on for the presentation, then upload a professional-looking photo of yourself as a profile picture. 
  • Positioning. You want the audience to feel like you are talking directly to them. Position the camera at eye level, so you can look directly into the camera. This can be difficult as you are likely to also want to watch and see the faces of your audience, which usually draws our eyes downwards and away from the camera. For a professional look, make sure only your shoulders, face and neck appear on camera. 
  • Understand How the Technology Works First. To minimise technological mishaps and wasted time, you need to understand how your presenting program / platform works. Do you need to know how to mute and unmute? Do you need to share your screen? Do you need to answer questions from the chat box? Test your sound and microphone and practice share screening transitions, changing slides and opening of chat boxes, the day before your presentation. Another option is to organise a co-host, so you can focus on presenting while they control the technology!  

Virtual & In-Person: 

  • Facetime. Make sure there is allocated time to just you, without the presentation slides. This is perfect for when there are introductions, storytelling and Q&A. It brings the focus back to you and your points. Also remember to complete transitions between these smoothly, without announcing it.
  • Use a Story. A great story will capture the audience’s attention. It also makes the presentation more memorable and relatable by encouraging audiences to personal connections to your presentation. It is also an opportunity to show the audience why they should care about your research – what are the real life impacts with this work?
  • Engage. Keep your audience involved throughout your presentation. You can use chat functions, polls, reactions and the raising of hands to keep them engaged. Try to aim to have these interactions every 10 minutes. Also, be excited about their responses and discuss their answers. This will make the audience feel included in your presentation.


Photo by Nycholas Benaia on Unsplash

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