Presenting your research

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Are you presenting your research effectively?

As an active researcher there will be many opportunities for you to present your research both formally and informally – this is a key opportunity for you to impress or engage a potential collaborator.

How do you make your presentations accessible and engaging to non-specialists?

Learn how other researchers do it: a great way to understand how to communicate your research to non-specialists is to put yourself in their shoes.

This is your turn to be the audience. Take some time to watch at least three of these winning presentations from the Three Minute Thesis Competition – particularly those from disciplines that you are not familiar with.

After each presentation write down: What was it about the content and delivery that made the presentation engaging and accessible to you as an educated non-specialist? What did they do (if anything) that would make you interested in collaborating with them? What would have made the presentations more interesting to you as a researcher?

If you are not sure, here’s what other students have said (downloadable) made some of these presentations engaging.

Determine your ‘research hook’

A ‘research hook’ is a one sentence statement that you could use to ‘hook’ someone into wanting to know more about your research. It is a simple narrative technique to engage your audience from the outset. The hook might be something unusual or intriguing as these examples illustrate (downloadable).

Write your research like a story

Narratives and storytelling can engage others to listen more intently to what you are saying about your research. Follow a simple process adapted from the NCCPE’s storytelling tips to scope out a story about your research. These questions (downloadable) focus on your research problem, but you could also think about a narrative on the applications, process or outcomes of your research.

Find analogies

Analogies will simplify the technical aspects of your research. An analogy or metaphor (downloadable) can help people to better comprehend or visualise technical aspects of your research. Taking the time to make your research more accessible to your collaborator will show your commitment to working with them and develop trust.

Describe what excites you about your research

Passion and enthusiasm for your subject can be contagious, and show potential collaborators that you are committed to the work. What is it that excites you? Could this also excite and intrigue a collaborator to want to engage with your discipline area?

Try out a new way to present your research engagingly to non-specialists

The ‘Pecha Kucha’ style of presenting is fast-paced and fun, and allows you to quickly engage non-specialists with a story and clever use of images.

Attend training

All of the GW4 institutions offer practical skills development opportunities for researchers. Within these programmes there are sessions on presenting yourself and your research in oral presentations and in writing. Further information is available at:

  • Bath (Researcher Development Unit workshops on communicating your research)
  • Bristol (A range of sessions offered via the Bristol Doctoral College)
  • Cardiff (A range of sessions offered via the University Graduate College Programme)
  • Exeter (Researcher Development Programme sessions relating to Engagement, Influence and Impact)

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