You have no chance to plan, make your time

By Davis Hill, Staff Writer


Did you know the EWU Research and Creative Works Symposium is in less than a week? Are you ready? Do you have your presentation prepared?

No? I’m not surprised. Many students find themselves scrambling to get something together at the last minute.

I know you want to do a good job — this is going to go on your résumé, after all. But it’s spring, and I know you also want to have time to drink smoothies, throw frisbees and play “The Legend of Zelda.”

In order to get the optimal ratio of slide-organizing to Ganon-fighting, you need to prioritize. Here’s how to get the most out of your prep time:

  • 1. Read your abstract again. Giving a bad presentation is extremely embarrassing for everyone. However, it’s even more embarrassing when you give a good presentation that is in no way related to what your audience expected to hear. Read over your abstract again, and make sure that you don’t forget to address the things you wrote about. Seriously, this happens.
  • 2. Use a bottom-up process. At this point, we need efficiency more than anything else. Don’t try to create the entire presentation all in one sitting — it’s inefficient. Instead, work from the bottom up: Choose your key words and phrases first, then flesh them out with topics and paragraphs later. This way, you don’t get bogged down in picky details like content and organization. Or . . . wait. Maybe I have that backwards.
  • 3. More big words are more better. We all know the old saying, “Honey attracts more flies than vinegar.” In an academic setting, big words attract way more flies than honey ever could. Beef up your language so that it sounds extremely learned. Remember, more syllables are better. The most successful presentations have a plenitude of multi-syllabic structures that best facilitate blithe circumlocution.
  • 4. Attract an audience. Be sure to invite all of your friends and teachers. Also think about bribing a few extra people to come. Nothing’s more of a letdown than having an audience of one—especially when it’s the adjudicator, who is required to be there. Remember, the symposium is all about looking good in front of the maximum number of people.
  • 5. Attend other presentations within your major. Nothing screams “close-minded” like giving a psychology presentation and then skipping out on the latest brain research. The Symposium is a great time to network and learn more about your peers; you can’t do that if you’re outside playing softball during the rest of the session. Plus, if you attend your peers’ presentations, you get to secretly criticize them on the comment forms afterwards. Whip out those pencils and let them have it.
  • 6. Practice your presentation. It’s easy to focus on the nuts and bolts: the poster, the PowerPoint, the note cards. But if you don’t practice, you’re sunk. If you’re giving an oral presentation, for example, you’ve only got 10 minutes. After that time, the adjudicator will cut you off, even if you’re in the middle of a profound comparison between Homeric women and toasters, which has never happened to me. Be sure to spend some time rehearsing, even if it means your notes are a little rough.
  • 7. Be confident. As soon as you enter the room, establish dominance over the entire group. Give a deep, low growl as you set up your PowerPoint. Think about mussing up your hair or dirtying your face before entering. During question time, alternate between rage and catatonia.

If you follow these guidelines, you’ll be sure to have a good Symposium experience. And by the way, I don’t think all Homeric women are like toasters. Most of them more closely resemble furniture.

Views expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of The Easterner.