It’s common for presenters to forget to put their research into a broader context for their audience and to make it clear why they did what they did. ­

When you make your why clear to your audience, you state why your research is relevant and important, i.e., why your audience should exert the cognitive effort of focused listening. It may be the most important statement in your entire presentation.

I have attended many presentations where I thought to myself afterward: “they used some interesting methods and got some convincing results, but what was the point again?

For example, the message of a presentation may have been that cells without a certain gene behave differently than cells with that gene. But WHY is that relevant and important?

Make that why crystal clear and state it with energy and enthusiasm.

You might choose to make your reasons clear both in a narrow perspective for the experts in your audience and in a broader perspective for the non-experts in your audience.

Remember, even if you are presenting for people working in a narrow field, there are likely some newcomers there as well. If you state a narrow reason, you might lose this part of your audience.

You risk another pitfall if you have an unclear why. You leave your audience to guess on your reasons, and their guesswork is out of your control. They might guess wrong.

When you prepare your presentation, ask yourself why your study is important. Once we start a study, we tend to loose ourselves in the details of our work, and sometimes we lose sight of the big perspective and the big goals. Sit down or go for a walk and think deeply about it. Why is the study relevant? Who can it impact somewhere down the road?

Turn your answers into a clear formulation for your audience. State your reasons as early as possible to get their attention. You may want to restate your why during your presentation. By restating your reasons, you give the daydreamers a chance to re-enter your presentation, and you lodge your WHY more firmly in the minds of the entire audience.






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