Here are 7 guidelines for improving the quality of paper presentations suggested in Biblical Archaeology Review (March/April 1993, 19(2), p.50).
1. Prepare your paper for oral presentation. Most papers start out from a text meant to be read rather than spoken. We speak differently than we write. We hear differently than we read. Say it out loud. Does it sounds natural?
2. Speak, don't read, to your audience. This may take practice, but it's worth it. People in the audience have often come thousands of miles to hear you.
3. Be informal. It is really possible to be informal and scholarly at the same time.
4. Time yourself. When the chair tells speakers they're out of time, it's embarrassing. Worse, speakers are prevented from making their most important points. There is an easy antidote: time yourself beforehand.
5. If you must summarize previous work, be brief and to the point. Your audience assumes you've done your homework. We've come to hear you tell us what is new.
6. In your opening sentence, tell your audience what your conclusion is going to be. If we know where you're going, we will follow you better and be less likely to doze.
7. Edit your presentation beforehand. After you've finished preparing your talk, read it over carefully and ask yourself if there are any topics that can be eliminated without damaging the flow of your argument. To understand your main points, do we need to know the sample demographics? The estimation equations? Your previous findings? If not, eliminate them. Then present your material aloud to yourself, asking yourself if your are presenting your material logically, clearly and precisely. Less complexity gives more impact.
Let's improve our presentations! Rasch Measurement Transactions, 1995, 8:4 p.403
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