Research hacks #15: Tips on delivering a conference paper

In the previous research hack I discussed how to plan and write a conference paper. Now we move on to delivering the paper to your conference audience.

Delivering the paper

  • Be enthusiastic, but not manic. If you don’t look interested in what your saying, why should your audience be? But if you come over like the Duracell bunny you risk diverting attention away from what you are saying and onto yourself. If you look as if you are trying too hard, you lose some of your authority. Note the demeanour of the best (clearest, most persuasive, most engaging to listen to) presenters at your conference, and try to pick up tips from how they conduct themselves during a presentation.

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  • The authority of the way you hold your body and use your voice is all part of the impression you give the audience, and consciously or unconsciously it contributes to what they think of you and your paper. How your paper is received is–one would hope–mainly about what you say, but not exclusively about what you say. So put a little thought into how you will say it.
  • Put yourself in the shoes of your audience. Speak in a way that you would want to listen to, and hold yourself in a way that you would think appropriate for a conference speaker if you were looking on.
  • Don’t be too arrogant, and don’t be too apologetic. A note to the arrogant: you’re not Immanuel Kant. You are not always the smartest person in the room. So don’t act like it. It doesn’t attract discerning people to your ideas; it just turns them off you. A note to the unduly meek: Your paper has been accepted in just the same way as everyone else’s. No-one gave you special treatment. You have a right to be up there speaking. You don’t need to be Immanuel Kant to give a good conference paper, so don’t make that your yardstick of competence.
  • Eye contact really helps, even if it’s not all the time and even if you are reading your paper word for word. Read more on >>