How to Give a Good Presentation

Hi everyone, since we are approaching deadline time, some of you may be facing the prospect of having to deliver a presentation, either on your own or as part of a group, but don’t sweat here’s some things that will help make your life easier.


1. Delegate: If it’s a group presentation than deciding who is covering what topics beforehand is vital and when I mean beforehand I mean not five minutes before as that just confuses everyone, instead while your group is creating the presentation is a good time to get it sorted. This saves you from awkward gaps of silence where you would have to inevitably wait ten seconds for whoever’s turn it is to realise they should be talking, nightmare.


2. Visuals: With your presentation, will mostly likely come a Powerpoint now when I was in school I would just put lots of info onto a slide and throw in some random transitions for cool effect. But honestly, you are better off keeping your slides concise, bullet pointed and without any weird transitions, it looks better for the lecturer, it’s easier for you to read if you get lost and it saves the powerpoint logopossibility of the transitions taking ages and stressing you out, or some mega loud sound effect you never heard on the library computer shattering everyone’s eardrums!


3. Practice: This can really help, once you’ve got your whole presentation sorted, just stand up and deliver it as if it’s the real thing, do this in front of people if you want or on your own, doing this at least a couple of times before the actual thing could save you a lot of stuttering and confusion  if it turns out a sentence doesn’t make sense.presentation


4. Bring notes with you: When your standing up doing the presentation it’s easy to get confused, it happens to us all so when it does, having notes means you can quickly check what your supposed to be saying and you might even have left yourself some pointers for that exact moment. Powerpoint has a notes function below the slides, or if your really up for it you can make cue cards or something equally clever.


In any case while presentations can be daunting, they are also, I find one of the less time-consuming forms of assessment which can only be a good thing, right?

Jordan

A Short Guide To Presentations

Many courses at Edge Hill University require you to present as part of your coursework. I don’t particularly enjoy presenting to an audience, but then again, I doubt many people do. However, one thing about presentations I do enjoy is the creation of the visual medium you present from. Microsoft PowerPoint, Apple Keynote, Google Slides – these are the tools of the trade. Although my experience is primarily from scientific presentations, hopefully, these tips can transcend course boundaries and aid people from any discipline!

Text

The most common mistake when creating a presentation is to fill it to the brim with words. When this happens, you run the risk of reading directly off the screen and overloading your audience with information. I’d suggest minimal words on the slides, relying more on visual information like pictures and diagrams. However, words are still very much necessary to convey key information. Any statistics, unfamiliar names, or important facts should be highlighted by having them on screen – preferably with a related image.

Theme

An important part of a presentation is the theme. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, as long as it’s consistent. All of the previously mentioned programs have built in themes, with more available to download. I’ve found that most of the time, simple is best.

Here, the theme revolves around three main colours, orange, lime and cyan. Not exactly harmonious colours, but the contrast allows me to get the point across visually in graphs and diagrams.
A simple theme of just orange and white, but making use of bolding to highlight key points, as well as images to provide further understanding and make the slides visually interesting.

Graphics

Equally as important as the theme are the graphics in a presentation. Use of pictures to engage the audience helps break up any lengthy sections of the presentation and provide further visual information. In my two examples here, you can see how the images of four different habitats become the background of the next slide detailing the environments, and the use of a full-slide map that was used to provide context to the presentation.

In the biological sciences, graphs are very useful to display key numerical information in a visually appealing way. When using graphs, colour coding is key – as are labels. If your graph is up to scratch, then no other written information should be necessary on the slide and any further clarification should be made verbally.

I hope these tips serve you well, and I wish you luck on any future presentations you make!

Biology Semester Two Highlights

My exams are over. Second semester is over. Second year is over. So it’s about time I take a look at my personal highlights from this term’s modules, Research Methods, Biochemistry & Metabolism, and Biogeography.

Facilities
The Biosciences building at Edge Hill

Research Methods:

Oddly enough, one of the highlights of research methods for me was the stats portfolio. This coursework section of the module tasked us to analyse datasets using the program “R” and usually produce a graphical representation of the data, as well as an explanation of the results. This piece of coursework relied on knowledge acquired from the taught sessions on statistics throughout the year. Although coding in “R” was tedious at times, especially when one singular spelling mistake threw off the whole script, it was very rewarding to have a complete portfolio of work – particularly the graphs and charts.

Another highlight was definitely research week which, if you’re a regular here, you should know about – as I wrote a whole post dedicated to it.

Biochemistry and Metabolism:

This module was a complex one, being filled to the brim with technical knowledge but featuring a highly unusual assessment – a collaboration between animators and biologists to produce a short video on a metabolic process. As well as the bio-animation, there was also an exam. This was a challenging module, since it is very content heavy and also required you to work in a team with non-biologists – a vital skill however, that practically all scientists need. There were a number of experiments – some of them stretching across a good few hours – that introduced us to more lab techniques and the practical side of biochem. Bio-animation Evening, compete with food and wine, was a nice conclusion to the module; seeing everyone else’s hard work and the different animation styles was satisfying.

Biogeography:

As well as a typical examination, the assessment for biogeography was a ~15 minute presentation on a scientific paper – randomly assigned. This was challenging, as we had two weeks to read and digest our assigned paper, create a presentation, and memorise the script for our presentations. That said, it was also a very rewarding assignment. I was particularly proud of my presentation, and although delivering the talk was stressful, the creation of the presentation itself was enjoyable (on reflection, it seems I enjoy creating visual aids, maybe I should work on my illustration skills!)

Western Campus – Partially showing the GeoSciences building

To see highlights from my first semester, click here. Also, the other modules available for second semester biology can be found on the university website. Also of interest may be my outline of this year’s marine biology field trip.

Semester One Biology Highlights

Since semester one has essentially finished (bar a few exams and reports being due), I thought I’d take this time to look back on my favourite parts of the modules I’ve experiences on the second year of my undergrad Biology degree.

Life On The Edge

Tech Hub

Life On The Edge (LOTE) is the new and improved version of the Environmental Physiology module from previous years, it deals primarily in microbe, plant, and animal extremophiles. The largest addition to the module was Life On The Edge Evening, a series of short presentations, by the students, on a chosen extremophile. This was hosted in the lecture theatre of the new Tech Hub. One of the purposes of the event is to test the students’ research and presentation skills – which counted towards our grade. Although public speaking isn’t my strong suit, it did give me the chance to bust out my PowerPoint skills – as lame as it sounds, I’m quite fond of designing the slides. However anxious it made me, I’m sure the experience improved my public speaking abilities and got me used to presenting in a professional environment.

Another point of interest for this module was the field-trip to Anderton Nature Park, where we sampled the salt springs for microbes and isolated them from the water back at the lab.

Molecular Biology

This module featured quite an insight into the techniques and points of interest in the field of molecular biology. My personal highlight was learning about epigenetics, as I already knew a little about it and was interested in it before knowing it was featured in the module. Google defines epigenetics as, “The study of changes in organisms caused by modification of gene expression rather than alteration of the genetic code itself.” This module was quite technical but very rewarding, in that the subject matter is complex but also very cutting edge.

Laboratory Masterclass

The highlight of Lab Masterclass has got to be using the scanning electron microscope (SEM). It’s an expensive piece of kit, so it’s incredible that the department to trust all the second year undergraduates to use it for our practical coursework. The assignment in question had to contain two images from the SEM which both had to be scientifically relevant, as well as a short report on the subject matter of the images. This practical was weighted quite heavily for the module, so it was imperative we used our time wisely on the microscope to get some impressive images. We could’ve chosen any sample with biological relevance to look at under the SEM, and being a fan of plants, I chose leaves. I won’t go into the details, but here are some of the images I didn’t use, that I think are still pretty impressive:

The course page for biology has a tab that gives an overview of the modules.

Exams and Coursework!

So for all you A-Level students exams are not long away and unfortunately at Uni you may not escape this lovely past time! However some courses, like the Primary Education and Early Years course do not involve exams- just coursework, so you may be in luck!

However some courses (including mine) have both exams and coursework, for me this is a great combination as it does not solely rely on exams which as we all know provokes some major stress!

Plus with coursework your feedback from your tutors allows you to improve in your next assignments as some of the topics you study will overlap over the three years. So having this information to know where to improve next time is great as by using this information you can easily attain a higher mark.

Coursework  may not always be just essays as they may take other forms, for example for my course I have had to create an academic poster and a presentation/powerpoint that I have presented to my peers and tutor. For you that have not done many presentations before or you get nervous about presenting… honestly it is nerve-wracking! But practice makes perfect and the more you do it the more you become accustomed to it.

So definitely check how you’re assessed on your course so you’re prepared in September for whatever comes your way!

Busy Busy Busy

Like a lot of third years at this time of year I am busy..very busy. Aside from preparations for Christmas (which will be upon us before we know it) I have the following to complete and submit before going home for two weeks

Applying Psychology to Lifestyle Behaviors Presentation

This is an poster presentation based on a health behavior that someone we know, wants to or needs to change in order to improve their overall health. I chose to interview my dad and ask him questions in relation to his weight as this is a topic that is relevant to me and I’m very interested in. For the assignment so far I have interviewed him, wrote up the interview findings and analysed them. I now need to design an intervention and critically discuss it and the theoretical model it’s based off as well as make sure the poster looks good and rehearse it before the 15th December.

Personality and Individual Differences Presentation/2000 word reflection 

Another presentation I have to do soon is for my personality and individual differences module. This is a group based presentation we have five made up candidates who are applying to the role of a sales manager. We each have to talk about who we’ve picked and why in relation to different theories of personality. In addition this there’s also a 2000 word reflection of the process and the presentation to be written and handed in by the same deadline of the 16th December.

Aside from the above I also have to gather data for my dissertation because I have now had the ethical clearance to do so but collecting data is proving a big challenge because I have to use sports coaches and their athletes and only one sports coach has said they’re interested so far. As well as these things I also need to start looking for literature (research papers) for the second substance misuse essay that is due at the beginning of January. I definitely have a lot to do!

 

Presentations

Last week I had to do two presentations. If I’d told my year 13 self that I’d have probably cried. I loathe presentations to their very core. Standing up in front of people, trying to convince them that I know what I’m talking about, having everyone’s attention on me; it just sounds like my worst nightmare.

Unfortunately for us presentation haters, it’s almost inevitable that at some point throughout our university studies  we’re going to have to do a presentation. I find them extremely daunting, I remember last year worrying about one for weeks beforehand. That said, I feel that since I’ve come to university they have become slightly less scary. I’ve become a bit more confident in myself, but I think I also approach them with a different attitude than I used to. Rather than focusing on how scared I am, I tend to just try and get them over with as quickly as possible, whilst working to the best of my ability. I’ve accepted that presentations are not my strong point, but as long as I try that’s all I can expect of myself.

If any of you are worried about giving presentations, I think you should remember that whilst they may not be the assessment you will do best in, there are people on your course who feel the same kind of fear about exams, or writing long essays. Everyone has their different strengths, and just because you are scared to talk in front of a class does not mean that you are not skilled in your chosen subject.

In the end, I don’t think my presentations went too badly. I even improvised a long segment of one of them completely off the top of my head because a point came to me whilst I was presenting that I thought really enriched what I was saying. That is something I would absolutely never have done before, but I think it really paid off. If you’re comfortable enough with it, university really is the time where you can better yourself and take risks. If they don’t pay off then at least you know you tried and you’re one step closer to knowing what works best for you.

Types of Assignments and Assessments

As I am currently in the midst of a very busy period planning and writing assignments, I thought I’d center this particular blog on the different types of assignments that you will encounter when you’re at University.

Essays

The main form of assessment that is used by my psychology course (and many other courses for that matter) are essays. An essay is one way to show the tutors on your course you have understood a topic that has been covered in the lectures/seminars by answering a set question (although this is not always the case) using your own knowledge backed up by evidence. Either from books or journal articles. Word counts for these range from 1000 words and upwards (+/- 10% of the set word count)

Lab Reports

All science based courses, such as mine will involve you carrying out a piece of research and then writing up your findings in the form of a lab report. All lab reports on my course have to be in the format set out by the APA (American Psychological Association) and differ in their sections depending on what type of research you have carried out: qualitative or quantitative.

Presentations

Presentations usually involve you teaming up with other people on your course/in your seminar group to present something. Whether it be a poster you’ve created about a piece of famous research or a PowerPoint presentation about what you’ve learnt in your lectures.

Book Reviews

When I was in my first year one of my assignments in the second semester was to read and review a book from a list provided to us. I chose to review Oliver Sack’s book “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat”. I found the book to be a fascinating read and I had to summarize each chapter in a 100 words or so.

Portfolios

A portfolio is essentially a collection of work and on my course one of the assignments I’m currently working on, is a 3000 portfolio which outlines my proposal for an anti-obesity poster/advertising campaign. This is based on how I’d apply psychological theory to help fight this growing health epidemic.

Academic Interests

As my readers probably already know, one of my passions is Employment and Employability ect. as I feel it is the most important part of life, and it hits me when I see others (on TV documentaries and / or in real life) suffer because of Unemployment. Henceforth, this year I will integrate this passion with some of my academic work this year – there’s nothing set in stone yet, but for the Music And The Moving Image module this semester I am considering writing about how music is used within Poverty Porn (“Benefits Street”, “We Pay All Your Benefits” ect.) to represent Unemployed persons… For this post, I am going to talk about some of the Academic Interests I have developed while at University so far – In order for my course work to shine (in my mind) I blend the set outlines with other subject matter that I am passionate about.

– J-pop

The most recent interest is the Japanese Music Industry – I am interested in how musicians compete (in my opinion, there’s not a great deal of money in the Arts), and since Japan currently has the 2nd largest music market country wise, and Asia has the 1st largest music market continent wise, theoretically the music industry in Japan has the hardest time trying to stay afloat due to extreme competition from domestic and neighbouring overseas markets. It is the unique and innovative ways that industry uses that intrigues me – I recently wrote an essay about some of their notable sustainability techniques.

Video: Japanese super group Morning Musume – The J-pop version of Doctor Who. In order to stay fresh, the group “regenerates” as certain current members are dropped and new members join.

– Business Innovation and Sustainability

I am also interested in how business practice can think outside of the box to benefit itself culturally and economically. Business of course surrounds us in nearly every possibly way – from the software being used to write this post to the hardware you are using to view it and beyond, and as someone who runs a business project (a record label), I am wanting to find out more about how entrepreneurs come up with new ways of creating capital as there are many ways to move forward.

– Popular Culture

Of course business only works if their products and / or service sells well. While I am interested in how something can be “popular”, this is the most broad of my interests and the most challenging. There are about six sections in the library dedicated to cultural studies (excluding exclusive Sociology), which goes to show that there are a million and one ways to analyse what makes something (generalisation alert) interesting to the masses and what does not.

My degree is mainly an academic one and I realise not all degrees are like that, however I am still happy that I can explore and maybe blend certain disciplines to inform my research. I’m frankly a little skeptical as to how academia (essays and presentations) can help you get a job outside academia, but then again it’s common knowledge that graduate level jobs require you to write loads and regularly do presentations so I suppose a degree is good preparation for that stuff.