The keys to an effective presentation are organization and clarity. Since you will have only 15 minutes to present your road paper, it is important that you use this time effectively. In this short time, you can only describe your research question, highlight the important findings, and describe the research method. The following describes some potentially helpful tips to guide your presentation.
1. Time Management is essential. Your presentation will be 15 minutes long. There will be a faculty moderator to introduce each presenter and help to keep sessions on time. Do not go over your allotted time, despite your natural temptation to explain your work in detail. Plan to arrive early to your session.
2. Prepare slides. Do not use more than 8 slides during your talk. The audience wants to hear you present, not attempt to speed read the material on a screen.
3. Direct your talk to a typical academic accountant at the institution to which you are applying. Do not direct your seminar at specialists. Assume that they know little or nothing about your area of specialty. Do not assume that they have read the literature on which your research is based. Be prepared to explain the basics. The ability to clearly explain the fundamental issues is a highly-valued attribute.
4. Avoid introducing side issues that may cause distraction. A poorly placed bullet point or comment may confuse the audience. Only introduce issues that are central to your topic.
5. As quickly as possible, get to your fundamental contribution. For example, do not spend too much time (say, more than two minutes) reviewing the relevant literature. This might appear to be a contradiction of point 3 above (and it is), so this presents a difficult balancing act.
6. Be very clear about the distinctions between (a) the prior literature and (b) your contribution. The audience will not be familiar with the details. You need to inform them. The audience will be looking for your contribution. Make it easy for them by clearly identifying what is already known, and what you have that is new.
7. It is often good to have a summary of the main findings at the beginning of the talk.
8. It is difficult to present all of your research in 15 minutes; therefore, you MUST prioritize. Decide on what is important, and what is less important. Talk with your advisor and fellow students about these decisions because it is easy to lose perspective when the research is fresh in your mind. For example, it is typical to be very excited about some mathematical derivations or clever empirical method that you have successfully worked out (and perhaps sweated many hours over), and you would like to present these details to the audience – however, the truth is that the audience will be terribly bored by this. Typically, it is best to leave the technical details to the paper. In the seminar, present the main results, their meaning, and their interpretations.
9. Small details matter. Avoid using acronyms unless they are generally understood by a layperson. Learn the correct pronunciation of the terms you use and the names that you reference. Know the correct names of any Greek symbols that you use.
10. Practice your talk…multiple times, if possible. Present it to at least one faculty member or colleague.
11. There will be a practice room on site for your use. There will be a projector available so you can practice your entire presentation.
12. Under no circumstances should you exceed the time limit. It is disrespectful to the audience and the other participants.