Research in progress presentations



What makes a good research presentation?  A set of skills that some people seem to develop intuitively. However, most of us have to work at it. Here are a few tips:

CONTENT: Think about ……

  • length: don’t try to include too much.
  • timing: respect time limits – your audience members will have other things to do
  • aims and focus: make them explicit at the beginning
  • making the topic accessible to the audience

The key skill is to include exactly the right amount of material. Most speakers prepare too much and find there is little time left for an interesting Q and A session at the end.

STRUCTURE and COHERENCE: Think about …

  • your introduction: in which you can provide an overview of your talk
  • your  conclusion: a strong ending will leave  positive impression
  • signposting of different sections
  • highlighting really important points
  • use of slides, handouts and other visual aids
  • how you will support your arguments with evidence
  • how you will make your own standpoint clear

The key skill is to organize your presentation so that the information and arguments will be presented in a balanced and accessible way. You can achieve this through a combination of spoken words, Powerpoint slides, handouts, pictures, charts, maps and diagrams.


  • Use of body language: to communicate enthusiasm and confidence to your audience
  • Use of voice: varying speed of delivery, intonation, word stress
  • Avoidance of redundancy and unintended repetition
  • Pronunciation of unfamiliar words
  • Highlighting of key words
  • Interactive skills when dealing with questions
  • Achieving a positive rapport with the audience

The most important skill is the last one. Audiences will appreciate it when they feel that you are talking to them rather than to your notes, Powerpoint slides or the ceiling. It is important to look at your audience to check for positive or negative feedback signs. Nodding the head in agreement is a good sign. Looking at a watch or a mobile phone is usually not. To achieve rapport you may have to depart from your intended script from time to time: it is never a good idea to prepare your words 100% in advance and then deliver them without modification in response to audience feedback.


Although there is no fixed format for this type of presentation, you will probably wish to include a mix of the following:

  • Your research topic or draft title
  • Your reasons for choosing this topic (and for rejecting other possibilities)
  • Your research questions and claims
  • Your research methodology and data collection methods
  • Influential sources: theoretical frameworks and/or individual writers
  • Your findings or expected findings
  • Problems encountered in the process of your research with solutions adopted