All presenters are expected to arrive at least 15 minutes in advance of their session. You are expected to be present for the entire duration of your scheduled session. We also encourage you to attend your peers’ sessions throughout the symposium. Mentors, faculty, students, partners and others are invited to attend and learn more about your research, as well.

2023 Session Times

TBA. More information will be added closer to the date of the symposium.

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Details for 5- & 10-Minute Talks

Plan to arrive to your session at least 15 minutes early.

A moderator will be in attendance to introduce the session, keep presenters to the allotted time, and to facilitate the question and answer period.

You will have 5 or 10 minutes for your oral presentation. 10-minute talks have 5 minutes for questions; 5-minute talks have time for questions after all presenters have completed their presentations.

Details for Films & Performances

Plan to arrive to your session at least 15 minutes early. Presenters are expected to be present to introduce the project and take questions from audience members.

Presenting Research

Ten Tips

  1. Practice your presentation several times. Pay attention to the time and think about potential questions.
  2. Create a take-home message: What is the single most important thing you want your audience to understand, believe, accept or do after they hear your presentation?
  3. Explain what it is you find most interesting about your research.
  4. Articulate your take-home message, project’s objective, significance and important evidence in two or three sentences.
  5. Organize your material into a story that:
    • Outlines the objective, significance, sources and methodology of your project.
    • Elaborates in the body what you outlined in the introduction.
    • Concludes by explaining why those findings are significant.

    Note that these are the same basic categories that you probably included in your abstract. During your talk, you have room to elaborate on the basic information.

  6. Repeat and repeat again: It’s okay to be more repetitive than you would be in a written paper: This will help listeners keep track of how all the pieces of your argument fit together.
  7. Simplify your vocabulary and sentence structure. A presentation is not an academic paper. Don’t try to sound smart and scholarly, it could make your talk sound confusing and ineffective. Use everyday language and speak in a casual manner.
  8. Solicit feedback: Meet with your mentor to review your presentation. We also encourage you to meet with a staff member at The Writing Center to explain your project, practice your presentation, and to hear, firsthand, what your listeners find particularly intriguing and relevant.
  9. Avoid confusing jargon that muddles or hides your research behind fancy words.
  10. Use signposts. Signposts are structural aids that help listening audiences keep track of how all of your points are connected. Here are three common ones:
    • Numerical signposts like “first. . . second. . . third. ..”
    • Parallel structure: “The main obstacle Manhattan faces is. . . .” “The main obstacle Queens faces is. . . .” “The main obstacle the Bronx faces is. . . .” .
    • Old-to-new transitions: “I’ll begin by defining the term documentary film . . .” “Now that I have explained what a documentary film is, I would like to focus on the particular example of Sherman’s March to explain how this kind of film can have a peculiar psychological effect on its viewers. . . .” “And so we see that documentary films can have a very peculiar effect on their viewers. This larger-scale effect is relevant to us today because. . . .”

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How Long Should I Talk?

Talk for as long as it takes to get your point across within the allotted time, but not so long that you lose people’s attention. Look at your audience and watch for cues. It takes about two minutes to read one, typed, double-spaced page. Practice in the mirror. Speak slowly. Try this out on your cat, dog or roommate. At the end of the talk, ask if there are any questions and be prepared to answer them.

What If My Research Is Ongoing?

Scholars often present their work before their projects are complete. Things to consider:

  • If you do not have a definitive conclusion, you can discuss the kind of results you hope to obtain and the significance of these results.
  • Keep in mind that your explanation of those results, their significance, is more important than the raw results themselves.
  • Within this framework, some presenters choose to state their results and their significance in their introduction and then show how they arrived at those results in the body of the talk.

Presentation Basics

You can use slides or a poster for the 5- and 10-minute talks.

  1. Know your audience. In general, your audience members will fall into one of two groups:
    • People who know and understand your topic. Some people will be familiar with the basic concepts you’re working with, but don’t assume that they are familiar with all of the technical details.
    • People who don’t know anything about your topic. This audience gives you an opportunity to teach them about the interesting information you’ve been learning and to convince them that the kind of work you are is important and has relevance.
  2. Determine your take-home message.
    • What is the single most important thing you want your audience to understand, believe, accept or do after they see your talk?
    • Include a succinct statement of your project’s main argument and the evidence that supports that argument.
    • Choose a few key pieces of evidence that most clearly illustrate your take-home message.
    • Use visuals to distill and communicate your take-home message quickly and easily.
  3. Your presentation should answer the following questions:
    • How did you conduct your research?
    • What real-world problems or questions prompted you to undertake this project?
    • What does this project mean for you or others?
    • How do your findings impact scholars in your field and members of the broader intellectual community?
  4. Keep the information minimal and scannable.
    • Long, complex sentences are difficult for viewers to absorb.
    • Use simple terms; avoid jargon.
    • Use interesting visuals, bold headings, and bulleted or numbered lists.
    • Don’t write paragraphs of information. Make it scannable!
    • Be concise, precise, and straightforward.
  5. Be ready to talk about your project.
    • What you choose to say about your project is just as important as your slides.
    • Be ready to answer questions and provide details about your project.
    • Make sure you review the details of your project that were too small to include in the slides. You’ll want to expound on that information in your conversations with viewers.
    • Don’t read from your slides. Use the slides as a visual aid only, and know your material well.
  6. Practice talking through your slides.
    • Show your slides to friends, classmates and your mentor ahead of time to get a feel for how viewers might respond.
    • Make note of the kinds of questions you’re asked, and be ready to answer them.
    • Time your presentation to stay within 5 or 10 minutes.
    • Greet attendees with a “hello” and “thank you for attending.”