Project seminar


when?revision weekend of exams
slot length15min20min
talk time12min15min
question time3min5min
full slides≈10-12≈12-15
There is no talk on phm59.

There will be an all-day seminar where each project student will present their project to the rest of the class and at least two members of staff, who will mark all presentations. Each talk has a fixed time slot allocated, of which the last few minutes are reserved for questions from the audience. Although your talk will be marked, the seminar is meant to model a session at a conference rather than an oral exam. The idea is that all contributors ask questions of each other in a friendly way and out of curiosity rather than individual speakers being quizzed by the assessors. If you see connections between the topics or methods presented in different talks, it is helpful to point this out during the discussion phase.

Your talk

Fig.: A final-year student presenting his work.

Prepare slides in Powerpoint or pdf for your presentation and upload them to Blackboard by 10pm the night before your talk. Please come to the seminar room 30 minutes before the start of the session in which you are speaking to check that the presentation looks as you expect when projected on the wall. Videos are often a particular problem and must be tested beforehand. It's usually safer not to embed them in the Powerpoint file. Don't overload the presentation with information - e.g. for a 15-minute talk, about 10-12 slides are appropriate.

It is important that you stick to the allocated time - at a conference, there will usually be several parallel sessions which need to run synchronuously so people can switch between sessions. To make sure you fill your slot without overrunning, you should rehearse your talk a couple of times to get a feeling for the points where you need to push through or spend some time. Don't over-rehearse, though, as your talk will be less lively if you've learned it by rote.

Most people have difficulty following your speech while reading text at the same time, so avoid excessive text on screen. Instead opt for clear graphics and headlines, which you explain in speech. There will be a laser pointer to help you show the audience which features you are talking about at any given moment. Point at your screen when you rehearse your talk, or you will forget the pointing in the heat of the moment.

Marking scheme

25%Content: purpose clearly stated, good overview, clarity and correctness of argument, clear and credible conclusion
25%Organisation: logical and easy to follow, interesting introduction, well developed main section, good wrap-up
10%Pace: speed of delivery, time-keeping
10%Graphics: explain and re-enforce speech, confidently used
10%Contact with audience: good posture, eye contact, rapport, relaxed, engaged
10%Voice: clear, varied tone, good diction
10%Interest and enthusiasm

Before you show any data, clearly state what the objective of your project was. Pick the audience up at something they know already and develop the details of your project from that. Show and explain your apparatus and technique, then give an example of a typical data set. You are familiar with the data and will notice small changes such as a gradual shift of a shoulder in a curve - your audience won't be able to spot these things, so you need to explain it to them - convincingly! At the end, summarise your results and draw any wider conclusions. Make sure to indicate when you're finished: say thanks, bow out, show a 'the end' slide - anything to avoid an awkward silence before the audience is allowed to clap their hands.

When you get questions, try to go back to a relevant graph in your talk. This will help the questioner to explain what they are concerned about, and it will help you understand what they want to know. Remember, nobody knows your data as well as you do (not even your supervisor!), so there's no reason to be nervous. Just answer any questions to the best of your knowledge. If the questioner had misunderstood you first time round, try re-phrasing your statement.