For a lot of people the first question might be just what exactly is an academic conference? Now this is a totally fair question. So, just like any other professional fields, scientists will occasionally have conferences, for example you might have heard of dental conferences or a conference where people in an industry come together to share information about their field or job. For scientists, this can be either a gathering of people on the same field like a ring biological conference or a physics conference, it can mean people who all study the same subject matter like this where social or global changes involved in biology or it can even mean a group of people who study the same animal, such as conferences on whale sharks and things like that. Any sort of shared focus can bring scientists together to talk about their work.
Academic conferences vary in scale, you can have extremely big conferences like “The American Geo-physical Union” or “Ocean Sciences” where you get scientists from all over the world come together to a really big convention centre, where multiple talks happening at the same time you have to schedule things very carefully, where you have a massive poster session and you usually have exhibitions with even people from industry coming in to talk about technologies to help with the science, and you can also have medium sized conferences things where you can have multiple talks and poster sessions or may be an exhibition, so it’s fairly large and comprehensive but not as massive a conference like it. Then you have conferences where there are relatively closely attached group of scientists to talk about one topic regarding certain specific areas with one day poster sessions and exhibitions. But, even in smaller academic conferences or very specifically focussed ones you can have interdisciplinary group of scientists even in this conference where it’s about “Ocean Global Change” biology we have biologists, chemists, geologists and a lot of different fields being represented and they all get a chance to talk to each other.
So, generally speaking prominent scientists in the field of academic conferences probably get invited to give talks whereas other researchers in the field such as professors, post docs and students will probably submit an abstract to give a talk or be a part of the panel or present a poster. Abstract is just a summary of your presentation or summary of your talk or poster or generally your research. An academic conference will generally have a committee of people or a committee of organizers who go through those abstracts and then they accept or deny people based on the quality of the summaries they have given. Academic conferences is a major way where students get a chance to show their work and get a chance to talk to other scientists about what they are doing and how to do it better before they take it to the stage of publishing. Academic conferences bring scientists across the country or across the world that wouldn’t get a chance to talk to each other or wouldn’t even get a chance to meet. So, these conferences take the initiative to bring them together and facilitate these conversations.
People may often ask, what is the difference between academic conference and those which they have attended in senior secondary of school? The answer is that, academic conferences need research. So, how do you do that? Well, let’s check it out.
- Reference list:
You should have a reference list that should be relevant and that supports your arguments. Then once you have your references you need to cite them. In an oral conference, this can be done in 2 ways.
First of all, provide the reference in the slide. For instance, you have a picture, so first make sure that you are allowed to take that picture, otherwise it is stealing.
Mention from where the picture comes from and then also cite it orally, verbally. So, another example would be suppose you have used an author xyz then you would say “as xyz points out in his/her article in year 2010(say)” so that is the way of referencing slides in an academic conference.
A good structure enables the audience to follow the content very clearly in an academic conference. So, make sure that each section of your academic conference presentation is organized properly where every section is linked to the other in a clear coherent manner.
This is nothing but directions to the audience on which way the presentation is leading and you will learn more about it further in the coming academic conferences.
This is tricky for some students because oral conference presentation use spoken language and they need lots of interaction. So, if a student just delivers an essay and just reads it then its going to be not only dull and boring but its going to end him/her with a very low grade. At the same time we must keep in mind not to use emotional language.
- Voice, Body language and Interaction:
You can use your body language and make the academic conference presentation interactive. As far as body language is concerned make sure you have a good eye contact, good posture, good facial expressions and appropriate gestures. For the interaction part ask questions regarding your academic subject matter, create interest and get your audience ask questions to you and want to know more about your topic.
You should rehearse your academic presentation with your partner(if any) not just once or twice but several times until you get it absolutely right and this will help you reduce your nervousness and when you are delivering your presentation you will be calm, composed, alert and confident.
As far as slides are concerned its best to keep it simple. Try not to use fancy animations or sound effects because we have to keep in mind that it is an academic lecture.
- Establishment of authority:
So in academic conferences you need to establish your authority regarding your discipline on what you are talking about is relevant, that it is correct and it is valid in the field of academics.
Last but not the least you should jot down the main points of your arguments explicitly and clearly in the form of a summary at the end, so that the audience gets an overview of what exactly has been going during the whole lecture of the academic conference and gets a clear idea of the objective of the conference.
Thus, by studying the above guidelines I hope that you got an idea about the basic tips regarding academic conference presentation and you would be able to prepare yourself better before attending your next academic conference and come up with flying colours.