If you have never presented a paper at a scientific meeting, you should read this article. Even if you have presented before, it is likely that this article contains information that will improve your presentation. This article contains a set of practical, proven steps that will guide your preparation of the presentation. Our assumptions are that you will schedule appropriate planning and preparation time, are interested in doing the best job possible, and know that a quality presentation is a combination of good research and communication skills. This and subsequent articles will focus on planning, preparation, creating visual aids (slides), and presentation skills for a scientific presentation. The intent of this series of articles is to help you make a favorable impression at the scientific meeting and reap the rewards, personal and professional, of a job well done.
To begin with, you need to create an outline of the topics you might present at the meeting. Your outline should follow the IMRAC format (introduction, methods, results, and conclusion). This format is chosen because your audience understands it and expects it. If you have already prepared a paper for publication, it can be a rich source of content for the topic outline.
To get you started, we have prepared a generic outline to serve as an example. We recognize that a generic outline does not necessarily adapt to all research designs, but we ask you to think, "How can I adapt this to my situation?" To help you visualize the content you might include in the outline, two types of examples have been included, one that describes a cross-sectional study using a survey methodology (example A), and a second using a combination of a case-control and cohort designs (example B).
Use the Preparing the Research Presentation Checklist to assist you in preparing the topic outline.