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Giving a Scientific Talk (Part II)
  "There are always three speeches, for every one you actually gave. The one you practiced, the one you gave, and the one you wish you gave."  
  ~Dale Carnegie
Illustration by Christian Krohg
 
The Conclusion: This is the End
You're coming down the home stretch! Take a deep breath, read our tips, and learn what you can anticipate when you wrap up your talk.

When nearing the conclusion of your work, include future directions and describe where you'll go from here. It's always good to have new goals in mind, and it helps show the audience your evolving plan. Make sure your goals aren't too ambitious and can be reasonably completed in your remaining time in the program.
Acknowledgments: I'd like to thank the academy…
This may seem to be the most trivial part of your talk, but the acknowledgement slide is very important! You should be citing all the people who contributed to your talk/data in any manner (from undergrads to grad students to post-docs). Make sure you also thank the big-wigs: your PI and your group leaders. Thank them for taking the time out of their busy schedule to come hear you talk. Some people also cite and thank the funding agencies providing them with grant money. Make sure you're thorough. Leaving people out of your acknowledgements can lead to disgruntled feelings.

When someone uses my data in their talk and forgets to acknowledge me.
Toy Story 3® 2010, Walt Disney Studios, Motion Pictures.
Final tips:
Make eye contact and show enthusiasm! If you don't exhibit excitement over your work, why should the audience? Be sure to practice your talk a few times, in front of your PI and labmates if necessary. Your PI should also have some pointers for you and can help structure your talks properly.

You're also likely to speed through your presentation due to nerves. What seemed like a half hour talk may end up only occupying 15 minutes of time. So, relax, breathe, and enunciate!

Leela: Fry, there's nothing else here! You only wrote two pages of dialogue!
Fry: Well, it took an hour to write; I thought it would take an hour to read!
~ Futurama®
Q&A: I want the truth!
Finally, when you've wrapped things up, it'll be time for audience questions. This may be the most unnerving part of your talk. Experts can launch questions at you from out of left field. Compose yourself and try out these responses:
  • Repeat the question back to the person. This helps to make sure that you understand their query and also provides some stalling time for you to come up with an answer.
  • Even if you don't know the answer, try to think of information from a relevant or related reference.
  • To something you have no clue on: "That's a good question, I don't know the answer, but I can look into that for you."
  • To a question completely unrelated to your research: "We haven't looked at that, but it's an interesting subject."
It is completely OK to say that you don't know the answer to a question! You can't know every possible answer. What you should avoid is babbling and making up an answer…because someone could easily call you out on it.

How not to handle questions.
Arrested Development®
We hope that all these tips will aid you as you share your data with the world. Just remember that no one knows more about your project than you do (if this statement isn't true, you may want to hit the books)! Have any tips of your own? Contact us here.

Just when I thought I got the hang of science…
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