Academic conferences are a useful way to present the results of a Cochrane review to people either through an oral presentation, a poster presentation, or a booth. Conferences also have the additional benefit of networking and an opportunity to promote both Cochrane and the results of your review to peers.
How to present at conferences
Good oral presentations should be captivating, get the message across clearly, consider the language and context of the audience, and keep people engaged throughout. Not everyone can be an expert public speaker, and in many ways, it takes practice to become good at delivering engaging oral presentations. Our resources below can help.
The ‘Community Templates’ section on the brand resources page provides templates for PowerPoint presentations that can be used at conferences. There is a video on Creating a PowerPoint Presentation to explain how to use the template.
This video gives some tips for effective presentations at conferences such as:
- Choosing your content
- Using an appropriate structure
- Eliminating jargon
- Creating effective slides
- Finding your passion!
Top Tip! Once you have written your slides and know your content, rehearse your presentation with a colleague. This will help find the parts of the presentation you may need to prepare more and help you anticipate any questions. If you can’t find a colleague to rehearse with, try filming yourself with your webcam or phone. That way, you can watch yourself present and see where you can improve parts of your presentation.
Make your poster one that people want to stop and look at when you are at a conference. If you are preparing a poster presentation, these resources will help your work stand out in a sea of posters:
The ‘Community Templates’ on the brand resources page provide pre-branded poster templates. They are very simple to use – you just need to download and add in the content.
Cochrane officially endorses the #betterposter design. These new templates offer posters with less text and a decluttered design with the main finding in plain English as the highlighted feature. Learn more about the design and watch a quick introduction.
- This information sheet contains useful questions for preparing a poster for a conference.
Top tip! Once you have a draft of a poster, use the dissemination checklist to improve the draft.
At some conferences, you may have the opportunity to showcase your work at a booth. If you have multiple dissemination products that you created, you can display them here. You might also want to bring screens or computers to make your booth more interactive. Like posters, you want to make sure your booth is one that people want to visit and interact with.
You can contact Cochrane to discuss your event, get clarification on Cochrane event policies, or help with event branding such as special banners, flyers or branded items to give away.
If you are hosting the symposium or conference, contact Cochrane to have it listed and promoted on our website.
Sharing your presentation
When you know you'll be presenting at a conference, share the details on social media. For more information on social media platforms and how to use them effectively, visit this page. On social media, tell people where you are going, what you'll be presenting, and provide a link to sign up to attend (if possible).
During your presentation, you might want to consider having a colleague or peer live-tweeting. This will give you content to re-tweet later, and give people in the room content to share as well. Others in the room might also be tweeting about your presentation, which you can re-tweet later. You might want to consider live streaming your presentation on YouTube, Facebook or Instagram so your followers who aren’t in attendance can watch you present in real time.
If you don’t have your own social media accounts, we can share a picture of you at a conference on Cochrane’s social media. It is great to get a picture beside your poster, at your booth, or beside something with the conference name. If you are interested, please send the following to Muriah Umoquit at email@example.com:
- Your name
- Your Instagram/Twitter handle if you want it included
- The related Review or Centre group
- Title of your poster or presentation
- Link to Cochrane Review if appropriate
- Title of the conference
- Official conference hashtag
- A picture
After your presentation, you can distribute materials to your audience so that the information stays with them. This could be copies or recordings of the presentation, or another dissemination product related to what you presented. You can distribute in person at the conference, afterwards if you have the details of who attended your session, or through social media for anyone who may have followed you on a social media platform because of your presentation.
Evaluating the effect of your presentation
Many conferences will do their own evaluation of their conference programming, including oral presentations that were given. They may ask attendees questions about the topic that was presented, the effectiveness of the presenters, and the quality of the presentation. Ask your conference host whether they evaluate presentations. If they do, you can request feedback on your presentation that way.
You can also seek feedback on your own from your audience if you gave a presentation. You can do this through hard copy surveys at tables or chairs that you can collect, through email after your presentation, or you can do live evaluation surveys. These work by surveying people in real time through posing a question you can embed in your presentation, and have audience members provide input on their phones by visiting a link you give them. Sli.do and Menti are popular tools for this.
Examples of presenting at conferences by Cochrane groups
This is a great case study of how Cochrane UK used a booth at a conference – with great tips on what to do before, during, and after the conference.