Rehearse Your Presentation

Rehearse Your Presentation

ADVICE FROM ALUMNI

Do not memorize your presentation. I repeat, do not memorize your presentation. You should target your presentation to your audience every time, and this means changing it.

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To do this, of course, you have to know something about your audience. I suggest you use the first minute or two of your time to ask your judge about his background. You may learn, for example, that the last time your physics judge saw anything related to your project was in college, and that he's spent the last 30 years doing an entirely different kind of research. Or, you could find out that your military judge really wants to know if your project can help build a better computer (perhaps for nuclear weapons simulations, but not necessarily so).

Relax. The judges are usually are friendly, and they aren't out to make mincemeat of your project. Just tell them what it's about naturally, and answer their questions.

Practice in front of a mirror and try to eliminate "ummm" from your speech. Don't spend too much time explaining your project so that the judge will have plenty of time to ask questions. Be confident in yourself. Look professional, smile, and relax.

I've learned through experience and friends that the more enthusiastic you are about your project, the more excited the judges will be about it. Also, make your project appear wonderful, because in a lot of ways it probably is, but also remember the limitations of your project. Recognizing the limitations of data is a key to almost any scientific pursuit.

Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. The best presentations are made by the groups most comfortable doing them. Anticipate questions that might be asked. Be prepared.

The oral presentation is also very important. Make sure you speak clearly and that you take the time to ask your audience if they have any questions. It is important to cover everything briefly, even your failed attempts, and to do so in a logical pattern. Don't spend too much time on one thing. If you are working with a partner, take your turn explaining the project and switch every five minutes or so. This way, it allows your audience to differentiate between sections and will add energy to your presentation. Teamwork is essential. Work together and help each other out.