Most graduate students are involved in conducting research or producing other creative works (e.g. theatre pieces, books, or art pieces) as part of their degree program. While this work is important, it is also important that you share that work with the larger community.
Benefits of presenting your work
One goal of engaging this research or creative work is to in some way contribute to the knowledge base in your field. Another goal is to better society in some way. Perhaps your work has a direct application to improving education, developing a technological innovation, or changing how we communicate. Even work with less direct applications, can have implications for helping us better understand a particular societal problem or helping others see the world from a different point of view. Regardless of your field, try to find avenues to share your work beyond those within your field. While it is important to present work to those in your subject areas, sharing beyond your field can produce a greater impact. Consider what is most important to share about your work. For some creative works, presenting your work to the public or an audience is an essential aspect of developing those works. Sharing their research or work with others means they might benefit from your ideas or be able to implement those ideas in their own work.
How can I present my work?
Often conferences or departments emphasize presenting your work in one of two ways: poster presentations or oral presentations, frequently with a PowerPoint to accompany it. While those are certainly two popular options, those do not have the only methods you use to share your work. Some other options include:
Perhaps your work involved physically finding or creating objects. For some projects, creating small physical displays of your work, such as art pieces, archaeological finds, or other objects, will best allow you to represent and discuss what you have done. For this type of presentation, you can draw inspiration from museum exhibits you have seen. Incorporate text, when possible, to explain the work or your rationale behind creating it.
Prezi is a program that allows you to create visual presentations like PowerPoint that do not just move statically from frame to frame. Instead, you can zoom in and zoom out on a particular point or “tell the story” of your work in a more fluid manner. Creative works or projects with a more fluid process or result, such as oral histories, might benefit from using methods such as Prezi.
PechaKucha presentations are a new form of presenting ideas using visuals. Using a software like PowerPoint, presenters create a presentation with 20 slides consisting solely of images. Slide transitions are timed to happen every 20 seconds. Each presentation, therefore, takes 6 and half minutes to present. The presenter talks while the presentation is showing behind them. For those in more visual fields, Pecha Kucha presentations can be an excellent way to demonstrate and share your work with the public in a quick and engaging way.
Offer workshops or master classes
Whether locally or as part of larger organization, finding opportunities to share your work through teaching others will help that work to have a greater resonance than it might otherwise. Educating community groups, students, or professionals can allow you to share your knowledge and work with those outside your department or field increases its broader impact. Often these professionals or community groups are able to utilize this information immediately in their daily work, so you can more easily see the impact of your work.
Roundtable discussions are different from research presentations. While these are sometimes opportunities to discuss research projects, these can also be opportunities to talk about works in progress or ways to implement ideas in practice. These discussions can be a great way to share and discuss ideas as well as receive feedback on current projects. How much time you have to present and what you address may depend on the structure of roundtables for that conference, so research conferences in your field and see what possibilities exist for roundtable discussion or similar presentation methods.
Posters for Creative Works
Research posters typically include sections for the research problem, methods, results, and conclusion. However, this formula may not always work well for all types of work. Students who conduct research in other ways or engage in creative activities can also create posters on their work; they just need to think differently about the poster. Posters for creative works may include more images than research posters might as well as some descriptive text about what what is shown, what it means or what you learned, and the significance or importance of that work. The goal of any poster should be display your work in a concise way, so that you can elaborate on those ideas when people stop to discuss your work, so be mindful about how much text you put on the poster.
Where can I present my work?
One great opportunity to present your research or creative activity is the UNL Spring Research Fair. While many students choose to present their work as poster, we do allow students the opportunity to present their work in other formats. We will have some television screens available to display electronic posters or visual displays. If you are interested in presenting another method, contact our office or submit your idea on the registration form and we can tell you if it is possible to present at our event in that way. We may be able to accommodate requests using many of the methods described above.
Many conferences may offer opportunities to present in unique ways. Look at conferences in your field and see what possibilities might exist. At some conferences, you may be able to propose specific types of sessions. The Modern Language Association, for example, provides a long list of alternative presentation options you can propose.
Alternate presentation methods allow you to communicate your work to much broader audience. Think creatively about where and how you share your work.