Last week I had my presentation for my pair project about black holes and wormholes (see my previous blogs about this here and here). You present your work to two academic staff, generally one is an expert in the same field of research as you project. I felt nervous when I found out one of the people I was doing my presentation for was Andrew King. Andrew King is now retired and had studied general relativity his whole life, he has even worked with Stephen Hawking. In short: he knows his stuff.
This made me really book up my ideas. Really I should have prepared my presentation a little earlier, but I had instead given myself three days.
The presentation had to be 15 minutes long with a 10-15 minute Q&A afterwards. It was mainly the Q&A I was worried about.
Of course people prepare for presentations in different ways, but this is what I did. I created a PowerPoint presentation (I recommend keeping it simple: black text on white background; size 24 text; only a small amount of text; and very large pictures) this allowed me to structure a narrative for my presentation – this was the hardest bit. Then I wrote a script for what I was going to talk about (and rearranged the presentation as the script required). I then print off the script to practice and make some corrections – I recommend reading it aloud. I didn’t really know how to prepare for the Q&A so in a panic I read the whole of Black Holes and Time Warps by Kip Thorne – this actually turned out to be a pretty good way to prepare.
Then came the day of the presentation. The presentation when by very quickly (however I did manage to make it ~15 minutes long). Luckily, the questions they asked were very reasonable, and I knew how to answer them. They said they really liked my slides, hence why I recommend keeping them simple. They said overall it was pretty good (I won’t get full feedback until summer), so I am very pleased with how it it went.
However, next year I have to do a 45 minute presentation…
“Space-time tells matter how to move; matter tells space-time how to curve.”
-John Archibald Wheeler.