I don’t know if any of you have ever done a poster session before at a conference or anything similar, but it’s one of my favorite kinds of presentations. Today the NASA interns had their "End of the internship poster session" where we basically just talked about all of the research we did through the entire semester.
What's a poster session you may ask? Well it's just like you would imagine: a bunch of interns with their posters standing around ready to answer any question that the invited guests ask. You don't have to prepare flashcards, or a speech, or really anything. All you have to do is know your project inside and out (which sometimes is not an easy task).
Personally though, I like powerpoint presentations better because you can anticipate what questions you will be asked easier. Those take more practice to actually engage people into listening to you ranting about your research for a while, but once you get down a routine it's a snap. Powerpoints eliminate the awkwardness that's at a poster session when someone is just reading your research and you're standing there smiling and thinking "do I look like an absolute crazy person smiling and standing here??".
So what's the moral of this post? Basically presentations are scary until you get used to them no matter what the format. If you're going to be in a field where research is the main goal, then you need to know how to engage people and persuade them into thinking your topic is the most interesting stuff they've ever seen. How do you do this? PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE! My mentor last year told me to make as many presentations as I can whether it be at school, during school clubs, ResLife, at work or wherever. Just practice explaining your point and getting people interested. Today was my 3rd poster session and my 4th one will be in April. Of course I feel more comfortable during Powerpoints because I've been doing them since freshman year of high school. But see? That's because I've been practicing.
Well that's my advice for tonight. Now I have to get to bed so I can write a boring paper that's due next Friday. Wish me luck!