The Eleven Commandments of Conference and Stress Management


As the conference season is coming or has already started for Ph.D. students, stress management and slide preparation invade our schedule. So here I give you my best advices for lessening your stress level and achieving the best version possible of your presentation.

  1. PRACTICE: Practice before, and if possible, practice in front of an audience that cares so they can give you feedback. You will be more confident after your test run and the quality of your presentation will be improved by their comments.
  1. RHYTHM: (This one is especially important if you have a dense presentation) Insert a rhythm breaker into your presentation to refocus and recuperate the attention of people that could have gotten lost along the way.
  1. NINJA SLIDES: Imagine what could be the questions someone could ask you and prepare “ninja slides” at the end of your slideshow to support your answer. This will impress your audience and make you look prepared and professional.
  1. AUDIENCE: Know your audience and personalize your presentation to fit their requirements. You will increase your success by hitting the buzzword they want to hear and avoiding spending a lot of time explaining things they know a lot about.
  1. GRAPHS: If you show a graph in your conference, make sure to take the time to explain it’s meaning, the axes and the statistics used. If you don’t plan to explain it don’t show it.
  1. TEXT: Please, you are giving a presentation; not making your audience read your thesis on a big screen. AVOID big sentences, use key words and phrase out loud the theory rather than loading your slides with long pieces of text. Nobody reads them.
  1. WATER: Have a bottle of water with you so you can stop and take a sip. It will give your audience a break and help you to pace yourself.
  1. BREATH: Before the presentation: steady your breath, inspire slowly and keep calm. The first words are always harder, then your voice will steady and you just need to make sure that you will keep breathing!
  1. AAAAAaaaa: Don’t put an “aaaaaaa” sound at each pause between your sentences. It is the most annoying thing in a presentation and shows your lack of control. Just take the time to shape a full sentence and think before talking.
  1. EYE CONTACT: Make sure to make eye contact with your audience, you will be able to see if they are following you or if they are lost and you need to spend more time explaining something. You also engage more with the audience and they are more drawn to your presentation by your energy.
  1. ACCENT: For those of us that don’t speak English as a first language, remember that your accent can get in the way of your presentation and that you need to ARTICULATE and talk SLOWER. It’s already hard to keep focused on a long day of conferences, if your audience can’t understand what you are saying it’s over.

I hope this can be useful to you. What are your advices to give the best presentation?

This entry was posted in Graduate student, Graduate Student Life, Ph.D. Project and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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