The audience will be there because they are interested in participating or listening but here are some helpful tips to get students talking, or developing their ideas through discussion
Here are our top ten presentation tips:
Stick to a few salient points and ideas that you want to stay in the students’ minds. Information is easier to remember if it is well-structured, and if the students want to know more, they’ll ask.
You’ll soon find out any mannerisms you may have (odd body language, repetitive words, waving hands about, jingling keys in pockets, swaying, etc).
What you do in your research, what you’re going to talk about, plus something to catch the attention of the students, such as what you do in your spare time: ‘when she isn’t analysing protein samples in the lab, she loves to play football!’ A little bit of personal information can help establish a rapport with the audience and shows that being a scientists isn’t all about work.
The science might be complicated, but you don't need to be. Use simple demonstrations and analogies to help illustrate your point. Have a look at our ‘Where Café Sci can take you’ page for places where you can find ideas behind demonstrations if you need them.
Be honest. Never feel ashamed to say you don’t know. Your particular area of study might be very focused, but relative to your audience you’re already an expert in enquiry and you can talk about how you, as a scientist, conduct your work to help find the answers to some big questions. You could always find out information afterwards, contact the teacher/chair and ask them to pass it on to those who were interested.
Try and find something that your audience would have heard about, or come across in their lives. They are much more likely to understand the science involved if they can relate it to something within their personal experience.
You don’t need to know about the school curriculum, but if you would like to know about your audience’s level of knowledge before your presentation then talk to the teacher, who will be able to advise. If you come across something in your presentation that you think your audience might not know about, then ask them. Café Sci is about having a conversation with your audience rather than giving a lecture about a subject.
Engage your audience by asking a simple question such as ‘How many of you think that….?’, or ‘Has anyone ever heard that….?’, or get a volunteer to help you in a demonstration. Once they are interacting with you, they will be more likely to ask questions and get the discussion going.
Being approachable, open and friendly will greatly help your presentation. There’s no need for formality in a café, but don’t make jokes if you’re not comfortable with them!
Working with young people can be very rewarding, and you are helping them to develop important questioning skills that will equip them to find out more about the world in which we live. And remember, your audience has volunteered to attend, so they will be interested in what you have to say!