Preparing for a Conference Presentation

By Sarah Tsuruo, Peer Research AmbassadorPreparing for a Conference Presentation. By PRA Sarah.

Preparing, presenting and networking are what I believe to be the three major parts of attending a research conference. Personally, I’ve presented at both Yale and Harvard medical school research conferences, and while daunting, it is doable and exciting!

Pro tips: OUR’s biannual Frontiers in Undergraduate Research Poster Exhibition is a great way to dip your toe in the “research conference” pool AND for conferences outside of UConn, don’t be afraid to submit your abstract, you never know if you’ll get accepted to present unless you apply!

Preparing for the Conference

  1. Practice your presentation: have a 1 minute elevator pitch, and a 3 minute and 5 minute
    in-depth version of your presentation. Practice in front of your PI or other lab
    members to gain feedback and to get comfortable with your presentation.
  2. Poster: your poster should be aesthetically pleasing and easy to follow while including
    the required sections of a poster (background, methods, results, etc.). Get creative
    in how you present your results and adjust your writing to be succinct – this isn’t a
    manuscript or lab write up.
  3. Prepare answers to what you assume will be frequently asked questions.
  4. Connect with peers or lab members; ask for their advice on what they do before a
    conference presentation.
  5. Lastly, dress the part; update your business casual closet and look presentable!

Presenting Your Research

  1. Formalities: be as formal and respectful as possible while still maintaining a scientific
    and composed manner of speaking. Eye contact and smiles go a long way.
  2. Know your research like the back of your hand. Literally. Experts in the field will be
    quizzing you on your research and you must be prepared to answer in a knowledgeable
    and eloquent manner. You may be a rookie, but don’t fall into rookie mistakes!
  3. Always ask for feedback from those listening to your presentation.
  4. For a virtual conference, it’s totally okay to have a script to reference to when presenting
    your work. Just make sure to project your voice and make eye contact with your camera.
  5. While conferences can be intimidating, exude confidence and fake it till you make it!

Navigating and Networking a Conference

  1. Look at the agenda and Google faculty members or researchers you want to network
    with prior to attending the conference to become familiar with their research.
  2. Post-conference, message and connect with other presenters, researchers, judges,
    or conference staff on LinkedIn.
  3. For a virtual conference; utilize the chat box to your advantage. Send your LinkedIn
    profile link, send other articles/links to your work/research and send private questions or
    messages if you have any.

Sarah is a senior majoring in Biological Sciences and minoring in Molecular & Cell Biology and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Click here to learn more about Sarah.