In various formats, you can use the following tips to engage and involve your audience instead of subjecting them to a recitation that closely resembles your latest academic publication.
I've seen faculty members who make a clear distinction between a "talk" and "teaching." Whereas in the latter, they are concerned with involving their students and focusing on their learning, in the former they're worried about delivering information and often forget about the outcomes for their audience. Bringing solid instructional strategies into a talk can offer a more engaging and memorable experience for your audience. Below are some instructional strategies to consider:
- Ask a question of your audience early on: When you engage your audience early on, you prevent them from settling into a more passive listening mode and encourage active learning and participation in your presentation.
- Give participants a chance to consider or discuss what your work means for them: adult learners tend to learn and remember things that make a difference to them in their own lives and work. So showing how meaningful your research is to them or designing an exercise that relates your research to their individual lives can help capture them.
- Use everyday parallels and metaphors to describe your research: When describing complex research and processes, it can be helpful to identify a familiar process that you can parallel to your work to better show what you're doing to laypeople in the audience.
- Avoid death by bullet points: One of the biggest faults of presenters are using PowerPoint or Prezi as talking notes instead of the visual aid that is supposed to support learning. This often manifests in bulleted list after bulleted list. Often times a visual can communicate an idea better than a word or phrase.
- Don't get text heavy: Another faux pas of presentations is filling a slide with a paragraph of text and then reading it aloud. You receive an additional strike if the text on your slide is too small to be read (you should try to stay at 20 pt or above). Remember, if you put a bunch of text on the screen, your audience will stop listening to you to read what's in front of them. And, if you're reading it to them, they could get annoyed, especially if it's more than one slide.
- Keep it readable and simple: Visuals can be a better way to communicate than text, but be careful to keep your visuals easy to see and read and simple enough to communicate your message effectively. If you present a very complex-looking model, you should not be surprised when eyes glaze over.
Edward R. Tufte's Presentation Tips - As noted by the University of Maryland CS Department
Talking the Talk - Tips on Giving a Successful Conference Presentation - American Psychological Association