Research has always been an elusive topic for medical students. Being competent and productive in research opens multiple new opportunities which will enhance your CV for future career advancements. It would help you to score points on your portfolio when you present at conferences, win prizes in competitions, and take on leadership positions in research clubs and societies. Moreover, this is all icing on the cake knowing that you have made a valuable contribution to the scientific community. However, this is often not well taught in medical school. Research presentations are important as they represent the culmination of your work and an opportunity to share your important findings with fellow medical colleagues.

Firstly, it is crucial to refer to conference guidelines when preparing the formatting and content of presentation slides. Conference organizers often spell out specific requirements on the font size, font type, sections to be covered, and aspect ratio of the slides to make it easy for attendees to follow the presentation. Making last minute changes right before your presentation day is a stressful experience and will ruin your ability to present with confidence and ease.

Next, enlist support from your research supervisors early as they carry a wealth of experience with them. I found it useful to rehearse my presentation multiple times with my research team and get constructive feedback from them which allows me to improve my presentation. Specifically, they will be able to help you filter through the vast pool of information and highlight key content for you to deliver to your audience within that limited time. Their advice is also useful in terms of anticipating the questions that audiences might ask you so that you could prepare concise responses to them beforehand. If the audience asks you a difficult question which you are unable to answer, be honest and acknowledge it as a good question with a promise to reply to them after the presentation. Avoid at all cost giving an answer that you are unsure of on the spot as it would reflect poorly on you and your team.

Furthermore, plenty of practice is key in being able to deliver your presentation smoothly. I would recommend rehearsing until you are able to go off-script at any point without panicking and being able to meet the time limit of the presentation accurately with a few seconds of buffer. Conference moderators are often extremely strict with the timing as they need to ensure every presenter is allocated an equal amount of time and that the conference proceedings are not delayed.

Lastly, nobody else would know your research project as well as you do. You have spent multiple late nights working on it so do be proud of the work that you have done and enjoy your time under the spotlight. It is an incredible achievement for you but ultimately just a step in your longer journey of being a skilled researcher and clinician. 

Written By Steven Toh

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