Congratulations on being selected to participate in the UQ Undergraduate Research Conference

The following information is intended as a general guideline to assist students in preparing presentation materials for the conference. Students are encouraged to work with their faculty/research advisor in preparing presentations.

Guidelines | Judging Criteria | Preparing your oral presentation

You have 10-12 minutes to present to a judging panel and a diverse audience on their research project and its significance using up to 15 PowerPoint slides. Following this, judges will have the opportunity to ask questions.

Guidelines

  • Your presentation should be no longer than 10 – 12 minutes plus time for questions.
  • You may use PowerPoint presentation with a maximum of 15 slides. Please note that no other presentation programs are allowed.
  • PowerPoint slide size must be Standard 4:3
  • Your PowerPoint presentation should be submitted to employability@uq.edu.au by the specified due date. No late slides are accepted.
  • No electronic media (e.g. sound and video files) are permitted.
  • No props (e.g. costumes, musical instruments, laboratory equipment) are permitted.
  • Presentations are to be spoken word (e.g. no poems, raps or songs).
  • Presentations are to commence from the stage.
  • The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.

Judging Criteria

Each competitor will be judged on the six judging criteria listed below. Please note that each criterion is equally weighted.

  • Abstract: was the abstract written well?
  • Hypothesis/Goal: did the speaker clearly demonstrate the hypothesis or goal and have clear research objectives?
  • Research Design: did the student have appropriate research design and have a good choice of methods/techniques?
  • Analysis and presentation of results: did the student clearly state the interpretation of the results and was this supported with data?
  • Conclusions and future work: did the student have a logical extrapolation of inquiry findings and contribute to the depth of the knowledge in the field?
  • Quality of the oral presentation: did the student have appropriate language for the audience? Was the student confident, appealing, audible and compelling? Was there a logical presentation of information and knowledgeable responses to questions?

Preparing your oral presentation

Oral presentations can be a confronting way to present your research. However, presentations are also one of the best sources of personal growth in your university education. The following is a guide to improving and preparing your presentation for the UQ Undergraduate Research Conference.

Planning and Preparing

You will be presenting to a diverse group of people, most of whom will be students from a different academic background to yours. Many will also come from a different social, cultural and linguistic background to yours, so it is important that you make your presentation as widely accessible as possible.

You may consider these points:

  • What do they know about the subject? What terminology would they know?
  • What do they want or need to know? What is their motivation for listening to you?
  • What aspects of your subject would they be interested in?
  • How much information can they absorb? If they are new to the topic, their level of absorption may be lower than for an expert audience.

Think of your purpose in making the presentation:

  • What is your main point? (Can you put it into one sentence?)
  • How will you introduce your ideas to them in a way that will engage and interest your audience?
  • What do you want your listeners to do or think?

Select effective supporting information:

  • What kind of information will appeal to your listeners? Provide interesting examples.
  • What kind of information will best support your presentation?
  • Listeners may only remember two or three supporting points.
Prepare an outline

In general, follow a 3 part structure:

  1. Introduce your research - tell the audience what you're going to tell them.
  2. Body - tell them
  3. Conclusion - tell them what you have just told them

Be concise, clear and select in the information you give the audience. What you say will have much greater impact if you are not rushing through large volumes of information. It is important to have time to repeat key points in different ways and to provide an effective introduction and conclusion.

Prepare an introduction

When your introduction is over, your audience should be interested, know what your main point is, and know how you're going to explain it. Therefore, does your introduction...

  1. arouse interest in the topic?
  2. provide context, ie. background, and definitions?
  3. clearly state the main point of the talk?
Prepare a conclusion

Listeners often rate a presentation on the quality of its ending, so prepare clear, succinct closing comments that catch the listener's attention.

Delivery – this is very important

The delivery of your presentation is of utmost importance in the overall effectiveness of your presentation. You can have the most interesting research and a well-prepared paper but it is the way you present it that will engage your audience and take them with you. Here are some tips:

  • Practice your presentation aloud (it will not help if you just say it in your head).
  • When you are presenting, don't read your text word for word from a page or slide. Use cue cards with simple dot points on which you elaborate orally as you go. This method is much more engaging as you are speaking directly to your audience.
  • Let the audience know what's coming: let them know the structure of your talk, use linking words between sections and keep them up-to-date on where you are up to.
  • Audience attention span is short, so break up long sections of information with questions, feedback, activities, and repetition of important points.
  • Do not rush. Speak more slowly and clearly than you normally would. Provide extra emphasis through intonation and body language.
  • Be aware of body language: avoid annoying habits such as talking with your hands in your pockets, slouching, scratching, fiddling, "um, er...".
  • Practice maintaining eye contact with a group of people. It is the surest way to capture the attention of your audience.
Question time

Your audience will be given the opportunity to question you on your research at the conclusion of your presentation. It is worth considering the following points:

  • How will you deal with audience questions? What if you can't answer the question?
  • How will you respond to criticism?
  • What if the audience misunderstands what you say?

If you are using a PowerPoint presentation:

  • Visuals must convey your point clearly and simply.
  • Do not over-use visuals (a trap when using PowerPoint). The visuals are not the presentation, their purpose is simply to summarise or illustrate your main points.
  • Familiarise yourself with the slides, and practice delivering your presentation with the slideshow.
  • Consider using fewer slides (Like around 5-10) for a ten-minute presentation, and speak to the slides rather than racing through as many slides as possible. This is distracting and you will lose the impact of your information, and quite possibly the attention of your audience.

When presenting:

  • Nervousness is normal - combat it by knowing your content and practicing it. Convert what nervousness remains into enthusiasm and focus.
  • Breathe. Pause between points. Emphasise key ideas/information.
  • Establish contact with the audience - talk with them before your presentation.
  • Walk purposefully and confidently to the front of the lecture room.
  • Remember, the purpose of oral presentations is to communicate a topic as interestingly and succinctly as possible, so be expressive and concise.

Guidelines | Judging Criteria | Preparing your poster presentation

A poster is a method of presenting your research-in-progress to an audience in a visual format. As a poster presenter, you will have a unique opportunity to combine visual and oral explanations of your project.

While you are working on the conceptual stages of your poster, think about the advantages of this format. What can be gained by presenting your research this way?

Guidelines

  • The poster should be no larger than 1.2m x 1m
  • The poster needs to include a title, your full name and the name of your supervisor in the top right-hand corner (standing poster display boards will be provided)
  • No additional props (e.g. costumes, musical instruments, laboratory equipment) are permitted
  • Your poster should be delivered to The UQ Student Employability Office, located on the Ground Floor, Learning Innovation Building (#17), the week prior to the conference. Please note, you are not able to bring your poster yourself on the day
  • The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.

Judging Criteria

Each competitor will be judged on the six judging criteria listed below. Please note that each criterion is equally weighted.

  • Abstract: was the abstract written well?
  • Hypothesis/Goal: did the speaker clearly demonstrate the hypothesis or goal and have clear research objectives?
  • Research Design: did the student have appropriate research design and have a good choice of methods/techniques?
  • Analysis and presentation of results: did the student clearly state the interpretation of the results and was this supported with data?
  • Conclusions and future work: did the student have a logical extrapolation of inquiry findings and contribute to the depth of the knowledge in the field?
  • Quality of the poster presentation: did the student present a visually appealing and compelling poster including graphics or tables adequately presented? Was there a logical organisation of information and a knowledge response to questions?

Preparing your poster presentation

What is the purpose of a poster presentation?

The purpose of a poster can be roughly broken down into the following points:

  • Attract attention: to capture the interest and imagination and generate enquiry from your audience.
  • Communicate information: about what you have been researching, what you have discovered, what drives you about your project.
  • Initiate discussion and feedback: through the above two points. There will probably be enough time for the judges to examine your poster and ask questions. Be prepared to acknowledge difficulties and questions that have arisen during your research.
How do you approach the creation of your poster?

Allow yourself plenty of time to prepare, design and print your poster and spend time thinking about how the format will best present your research. The conference participants will want to know as much about your research project as possible. However, your poster does not provide you with much space or time to gain the viewers’ attention while conveying large amounts of information. You need to think creatively about how to use the poster’s dimensions and visual format to your advantage, to present your research in a clear, concise and unique way.

Content

What will you include in your poster? Try and think of your research from the perspective of someone who knows nothing about your topic. Remember, you are so familiar with it that it’s easy to overlook basic information that other students might find pivotal. Think back to when you started researching and the way you thought of the topic then; try to ease the viewer in with you from the beginning rather than jumping straight into your more advanced work. There will be students present from faculties and backgrounds that are vastly different from yours. It may help to consider the following questions:

  • What is the objective of my research?
  • What/who are my influences?
  • How have I approached the study?
  • Why did I follow this particular route of investigation?
  • What assumptions have I made and what were my justifications?
  • What problems have I encountered?
  • What have I found out?

Give your poster a title that reflects the calibre of your research and attracts attention. Include a short introduction and summary of your topic and your research thus far.

Layout and presentation

Once you have thought about what you will include, start planning the way you will present it. What are the most effective visual ways to present the concepts, methods and ideas behind the research without relying too heavily on large blocks of text? How can you draw the viewer into the way you visualise your research, and convey its most exciting aspects? How can you present detailed information that doesn’t overwhelm the viewer and crowd the page? Here are some suggestions:

  • Pay close attention to the organisation of your poster. Information should follow a logical order and should guide viewers through your research activity.
  • Basic contents typically include the title, researcher’s name(s), university and major, thesis or hypothesis statement, purpose/significance of the study, data collection method, analysis, and results/findings (if appropriate).
  • White space: (the area not covered with text or graphics): Not too much (or the viewer's eye will wander). Not too little (or you'll confuse and overwhelm your viewer).
  • Use simple fonts that can be read easily from a distance: 18 points to 24 points minimum font size. Use no more than three or four text fonts. Avoid all capital letters, except in titles.
  • Colour: Background should be a solid colour, not a pattern. Avoid juxtaposing colours that clash or fade each other out. Avoid using too many colours. Use more intense colours only as borders or for emphasis, but be conservative. Overuse of colour is distracting.
  • Cropping, Margins and Spacing: All edges and margins should be straight and even. Use a ruler and razor knife. Don't overcrowd space and be attentive to balance from top to bottom and from the side margins. Organise your elements into columns (rather than book-style, left-to-right page layout).

Avoid cluttering the page with multiple fonts and text sizes. Too much visual stimulation lessens its impact. Keep it simple. Emphasise the text in a way that clearly communicates information and follows the progression of your ideas. Think of using colour and diagrams in the same way. Don’t let the presentation distract from the information – it should facilitate the viewer’s understanding of your research.

Guidelines | Judging Criteria | Preparing your elevator pitch

What if you only had four minutes to explain your project to someone that isn't in your field of study? Presenters in the elevator pitch competition will need to do just that, by explaining their research findings to a broad audience in four minutes with only one static slide. This competition is for honours students only.

The competition is an adaption to the 3MT® competition run by the UQ Graduate School for PhD students.

Guidelines

  • Your presentation must be within four minutes. Presentations that exceed four minutes will be disqualified.
  • Presentations are considered to have commenced when a presenter starts their presentation through movement or speech.
  • You may use one static PowerPoint slide. The use of animations, sounds and videos will result in disqualification.
  • PowerPoint slide size must be Standard 4:3
  • Your PowerPoint slide should be submitted to employability@uq.edu.au by the specified due date. No late slides are accepted.
  • No props (e.g. costumes, musical instruments, laboratory equipment) are permitted.
  • Presentations are to be spoken word (e.g. no poems, raps or songs).
  • Presentations are to commence from the stage.
  • The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.

Judging Criteria

Each competitor will be judged on the three judging criteria listed below. Please note that each criterion is equally weighted.

Communication style
  • Was the topic and its significance communicated in language appropriate to a non-specialist audience?
  • Did the speaker use sufficient eye contact and vocal range, maintain a steady pace, and a confident stance?
  • Did the PowerPoint slide enhance, rather than detract from, their presentation – was it clear, legible, and concise?
Comprehension
  • Did the presentation help the audience understand the research without 'dumbing it down'?
Engagement
  • Did the presentation make the audience want to know more
  • Did the presenter capture and maintain their audience's attention?

Preparing your elevator pitch presentation

Presenting your research with limited time and resources is a great challenge. However, it is important for those entering the academic field to master the ability to summarise the importance of your research to a broad audience. The following guide will help you prepare an elevator pitch presentation for the UQ Undergraduate Research Conference.

Planning

You will be presenting to a diverse group of people, most of whom will be students from a different academic background to yours. Many will also come from a different social, cultural and linguistic background to yours, so it is important that you make your presentation as widely accessible as possible.

You may consider these points:

  • What do they know about the subject? What terminology would they know?
  • What do they want or need to know? What is their motivation for listening to you?
  • What aspects of your subject would they be interested in?
  • How much information can they absorb? If they are new to the topic, their level of absorption may be lower than for an expert audience.

Think of your purpose in making the presentation:

  • What is your main point? (Can you put it into one sentence?)
  • How will you introduce your ideas to them in a way that will engage and interest your audience?
  • What do you want your listeners to do or think?

Select effective supporting information:

  • What kind of information will appeal to your listeners? Provide interesting examples.
  • What kind of information will best support your presentation?
  • Listeners may only remember two or three supporting points.
Distilling your message

With only four minutes on the clock, it is tempting to just talk faster to fit as much information into the presentation as possible. But this is often the wrong approach. Instead, try focusing on one or two important points and explaining them well. Less is more when it comes to presentations of this kind. So ask yourself these questions:

  • What was my main research finding and why is it important?
  • What background information will the audience need to understand why this finding is important?

Once you have the answers to these questions, it will become easier to structure your presentation. Start by considering the most important points, and only include information that aids in the understanding of these points, instead of flooding the audience with too much information.

Creating your story

An elevator pitch presentation follows a similar format to the oral presentation, only more succinct. Your presentation should generally follow this structure:

  1. Introduce your research - explain the gap in the research
  2. Body - show how your project fills this gap and explain your major finding
  3. Conclusion - very briefly explain what your findings mean in the wider context of your research area

Only tell the audience information they need to know in order to understand your research. You don't need to make them experts in just four minutes. Use analogies to aid understanding and try to avoid technical jargon.

Present to a family member or friend

A great way to test the effectiveness of your presentation to a wide audience is to practice in front of a friend or family member. Chances are that if they can't understand your presentation, then the audience won't be able to either. Ask them for feedback and rework sections of your presentation they found difficult to comprehend.

Delivery

The delivery of your presentation is of utmost importance in the overall effectiveness of your presentation. You can have the most interesting research and a well-prepared paper but it is the way you present it that will engage your audience and take them with you. Here are some tips:

  • Practise your presentation aloud (it will not help if you just say it in your head).
  • When you are presenting, don't read your text word for word from a page or slide. Use cue cards with simple dot points on which you elaborate orally as you go. This method is much more engaging as you are speaking directly to your audience.
  • Do not rush. Speak more slowly and clearly than you normally would. Provide extra emphasis through intonation and body language.
  • Be aware of body language: avoid annoying habits such as talking with your hands in your pockets, slouching, scratching, fiddling, "um, er...".
  • Practice maintaining eye contact with a group of people. It is the surest way to capture the attention of your audience.

All UQ Undergraduate Research Conference presenters are recommended to attend one or more presentation skills seminar prior to the conference.

Powerful Presentation Skills

This workshop is recommended for Oral Presentation and Elevator Pitch participants.

This interactive session will discuss the benefits of skilled oral communication, common causes of miscommunication and constructive feedback. Discuss what can “make or break” your presentation and how to overcome obstacles to success. Specific strategies will be presented regarding verbal and non‐verbal communication to optimise audience engagement and PowerPoint development. Following this interactive session, you will be able to practice tactics to further develop you presentation ability. 

Poster Presentation Skills

This workshop is recommended for Poster Presentation participants.

This session will look at the features which make for effective poster presentations on research in terms of the key components of content, poster design, and presenter style.


Can't attend these sessions but need help? Please email UQ Learning Advisor, Ingrid Riener, to make an appointment to discuss your presentation.

Need more information

General enquiries about the program can be directed to the UQ Student Employability Centre at employability@uq.edu.au

In searching for a research project in genetics that I found exciting, my to-be supervisor recommended I apply to do a research program with him.

With new found confidence I participated in and won the elevator pitch at the URC.

- Daniel
UQ Ambassador 2016