In the psychology department, we have these lunch-hour seminars called “brown bags,” and I presented my first one as a graduate student today. Here are some lessons I learned from the experience.
No one cares about how your slides look.
I have a thing for design and art, and I want things to look good. So I spent time making my own background for the slides and making sure everything looked professional. But guess what, NO ONE CARES.
No one cares about how you present.
I was super worried over the weekend that I wasn’t making eye contact because I was still attached to my “script” because I had to talk about some stuff I had no idea about, but when all was said and done, NO ONE CARES.
In fact, no one cares about how you look.
I made sure to dress up professionally, but really that doesn’t matter either because NO ONE CARES.
What people DO care about
They care about the organization and logical flow of your presentation.
They care about whether you can defend the theories you are discussing.
They care about the constructs you are conceptualizing.
They care about whether your methodology is sound.
They care about whether you are clear about the data you are presenting.
They care about your study’s limitations.
They care about your future directions.
They care about how fast you talk.*
So my advice to aspiring brown baggers: Just use the stock powerpoint theme for your presentation and don’t waste time animating so much, just present but don’t practice your style too much, and just wear the first thing you grab out of your closet the morning of.
But MAKE SURE your theories, ideas, methods, and data analysis are solid.
*But only if you’re a lowly first year student. If you’re a big deal professor who talks at the speed of light, no one will care.