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Pitch / Explain Your Poster

On The VRES Poster Showcase Day

You have three minutes to explain your research! Where do you start?  You have so much valuable information to explain – how do you fit that all into only 3 minutes?

The simple answer is you don’t! But you do need to make your presentation as interesting and clear as possible, so that your audience is compelled to know more.

Here are some things to consider:

Visuals

You will be narrating over the top of one slide; that is, your poster. The audience will be looking at the poster and hearing your voice. There will be no animations or slide changes.

Have a strong takeaway message

Try to sum up the purpose or benefits of your research in one sentence. People most likely won’t remember every detail of your statistical results or testing methodology, but they will remember, on the whole, what your research is about if you give them a clear, concise message.

Connect with your audience

Think of good ways to grab and hold the audience’s attention. Avoid heavy, technical jargon. Try to explain things as if to a lay person you met at a friend’s party. Using humour can be an effective tool but you should avoid being “corny” or “cute”. Also, it’s important to recognise that this is an online pitch and so you will have limited use of body language.

Walk them through

You need to imagine you are taking your audience by the hand and walking them through your research very clearly and carefully. Think of walking an elderly person across the street. Refer them to sections of your poster at appropriate times to help reinforce what you’re saying. Be very clear with your sentences and be as logical and cohesive as possible.

Believe & enjoy your research!

Nothing compels an audience more than the genuine passion of the speaker. Show your audience how excited you are about your project. Believe in yourself and believe in your research.

What to include

In your three minutes, you’ll need to explain:

  • What question or problem you are trying to address;
  • why it matters;
  • significant findings; and
  • what might be the next steps

A strong pitch will spend about 30 - 40 seconds on each of these as well as a clear take home message.

Resources

Here are some useful links to help you plan and structure your pitch.

Note: not all the resources below are aimed directly at a “three-minute” presentation nor are they necessarily focused on verbal delivery.  However, they might be useful in helping you to breakdown your research and organise the information.

Pitching Research – a good resource with templates, guides, and practical activities to help you prepare. It also includes some good information about writing abstracts.

The Thesis Whisperer – the research pitch – extending from the above resource, this blog breaks down the characteristics of a good pitch and helps you to plan better.

Pitch My Research – this is a DIY template which you can use to build your own pitch. It also provides examples of other research pitches.

Here are some video examples of three-minute research pitches. Although some of these are presented in a live auditorium (as opposed to online), they still hold some value and relevance to the VRES context.  As you watch, consider the following questions:

  • What is their take home message?
  • At what stage did they introduce the problem or question they are researching?
  • How much technical terminology did they use?
  • How did they close the pitch?

Example 1 Cancer unmasked: how inhibiting a small protein could boost anti-tumour immunity

Example 2 Bio-nano-robo-mofos

Example 3 Tinnitus: past – present - future (A not-so-good example. Compare this pitch to the previous two)