8 Steps to an Impactful Presentation

Laboratory & Research Advice

8 Steps to an Impactful Presentation


You will need to tell a story of your research or work to peers and at conferences. In such a presentation, the focus is on delivering the important information to your audience with clarity. Enlighten them, surprise them, give them something to ponder. Here is an eight-question outline of how to present your research, with examples from my work, and some notes:


(1, 2, 3) Describe the motivation for your research. What is the hole in the world that you were trying to fix? What is the best work done on this problem? What is the gap in this field that you are working in? Here is an example from my Masters thesis: “Solar cells employing pentacene could reach 44% efficiency, but fall short in reality due to limited energy transport.”


(4, 5) What was your particular idea to improve the current situation? What did you do? Do this on a high level. Here is mine: “We measured the transport of energy with spectroscopy in thin films and crystals of pentacene” In this, only the crystals part was a novel improvement, but the films were necessary for benchmarking.


(6) What did you see? This must be unambiguous and clear. Here is mine: “The length scales were NN and NNN nanometers”


(7, 8) What does all this mean? Why should the audience care? Here, you are returning to the big global picture. Here is mine: “Thin films will never make efficient solar cells, but crystals might.”


Additionally, highlight exciting and meaningful results from your work, or particular tricks you employed to get the result. Here is mine: “we observed an unexpected annihilation process. It should not happen based on current theory, so current theory is wrong.”


Write briefly, precisely, and without ambiguity. Next post, we will modify this formula for the personal statement and statement of purpose.