Thursday, April 17, 2014

How to present your proposal

Continuing with the pile of questions that I have which deserve a spot in the Q&A series, I would like to expand on the following question, which I got through Twitter:

First of all, you might like to think about the outline of your presentation. Don't just throw information randomly at your listeners. Instead, follow a logic. Essentially, there are two outlines you can use:
1. Deduction of results from experiments
- Introduction / Motivation of the research
- Literature review / background info
- Experiments
- Analysis of the experiments
- Results
- Conclusions
2. QOD approach
- Introduction / Motivation of the research
- Literature review / background info
- Proposition
- Proof (this can be based on experiments)
- QOD / Conclusions

With that said, we are talking here about a proposal, so the research is just starting, and you are mostly focusing on the value of your research.
Since the goal of your proposal presentation is to convince your committee that your line of research is worth leading to a doctoral dissertation, you need use a persuasive presentation rather than an informative presentation.
Moreover, since you are defending your proposal, you probably only have a vague idea yet of the direction in which your data analysis will lead you. You can't promise certain results in your presentation, so you should focus on the motivation of the research.

If you want to take that focus on your motivation one step farther, you can dedicate one slide to the greater impact of this research. Will it have an influence on the (local) economy? Will your results be valuable for the industry? Will your research fit somewhere in the cure for a disease? Try to get a helicopter overview of how your research would fit into your field, and then into the world.

Come prepared as well: have an idea of the methods that you will be using, have a good understanding of the literature in this field, and do a careful estimate of what your research results might look like. For example: will you be gathering data on a certain topic, or will you develop software or a tech tool? Have an idea of the direction where you want to go.

Which other elements should this reader add to the slides of his proposal presentation? Share your thoughts and suggestions in the comments below!