Improving Scientific Presentations: Lesson 1

man in front of audience

American Heart Association Annual Scientific Session consists of hundreds of talks from a wide range of presenters including students, post-doctoral scholars, and faculties at different levels. Seating in various #AHA17 sessions makes me think about what William Yeats, one of the foremost figures of 20th-century literature, said years ago:

“I always think great speakers convince us not by force of reasoning but because they are visibly enjoying the beliefs they want us to accept.”

I still believe that this is one of the most important fundamental points to successfully convey your scientific message; what you will not always see in scientific presentations. So let’s discuss basic points of executing a good talk by tackling the most common problem: Podium Panic. In order to overcome this problem, I like to do the “4 Ps” method – Plan, Prepare, Practice, and Perform.

To plan, make sure you know your audience and the range of their knowledge and why you are talking to them. Is it a summary of your progress to your advisory committee or it is a special seminar to prove your concept. The answer to these questions helps you to form your story.

To prepare, study what you have to study, make ready your handouts (if there are any) and start working on your slides. Do not have “sliduments”, slides that look like documents. 

To practice, make sure to find at least one person to listen to your talk and do not forget to get feedback. Another crucial point is NOT to memorize your talk, rather learn what you will discuss. The latter helps significantly to reduce stress.

To perform, when you planned, got prepared and practiced; now you can just go on the stage and perform. Do not forget to show everyone how excited you are about what you are talking about. 

Shayan Mohammad Moradi Headshot

Shayan is a caffeine-dependent Ph.D. Candidate at the Saha Cardiovascular Research Center, University of Kentucky. His research area is focused on vascular biology and lipid metabolism. He tweets @MoradiShayan, blogs at and he is the Winner of World’s Best Husband Award (Category: nagging).

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