Presenting Yourself and Networking

Goal:Written specifically to prep ASSIST students before their poster sessions, however, it can be applied to any public presentations.

Presenter: Ember Melcher

Throughout your professional and research career you will find yourself presenting your work frequently and sometimes under a time constraint. So how can you make this process go smoothly and communicate successfully? If you know where and how to start your presentation it will make the process go less nerve wracking and make it more meaningful on both ends.

Starting the conversation (60 Second Pitch)

  • Introduce yourself and start with why Why are you are pursuing your research? Why are you working in your particular field? This will allow people to understand your intentions and motivations from the start. Watch Simon Sinek’s TED talk to learn more abou starting with why.

  • Imagine talking to a 5 year old and a 95 year old at the same time Everyone will understand your material much better if you break down information. Not only will your audience be engaged much longer, but they will also ask more relevant questions.
  • Aim to leave out as much as possible in order to not lose your Why message. If they seem more interested in learning more about your work, you can respond by diving more into details.
  • Use transitions This is a helpful tool when it comes to presenting and writing. Transitions allow you to connect from point A to point B and helps you practice the sequence of logic when explaining your work. If you’re trying to explain a complex concept in a consistent fashion over and over again, it’s tempting to try and memorize it, like a script. The transitions between points will be the hardest parts to navigate smoothly when you’re on the spot, so take extra time to practice how you’re connecting one idea to the next.  

Body Language

When presenting or pitching to someone do not cross your arms instead you should copy their body language. If you mirror the other person’s movements, it makes them feel more comfortable talking to you, because your body language will seem familiar
Make eye contact when you have people walking around. It arouses immediate interest in the the person walking by if you catch their attention. When mingling around in groups, stick to participating in a group of no more than 3 people. It’s easier to talk and share a meaningful conversation in smaller groups.  It’s also easier for new people to join a conversation if the participants aren’t facing directly towards each other. Keep an “open” space by facing slightly diagonally to your audience, so you can turn your head to make eye contact or to greet a new introduction.
For poster presentations: Make sure to face your viewer when speaking. Your poster should be a visual flow of your explanation. Stay away from cramming more material into your poster – bring additional supplements as an alternative.  
Ending a Conversation:

  • Thank them!
  • Exchange contact information
  • Introduce them to a colleague
  • If questions keep continuing, it is okay to excuse yourself.


People given the opportunity to network

Your network is much bigger than you think! Reconnect with your family and friends to figure out how they can connect you with the right contact. If you find it difficult to reconnect with past relationships take advantage of social media outlets to let them know you are interested in engaging with them . Another way to grow your network would be to reach out to Alumni groups, colleagues, sponsors, professors and supervisors. The list is endless.

The core of networking is to highlight HOW you can be valuable to them. Why would you be helpful to them? Networking is not about what they can offer you, but what you can give back to them.