Prepare for the heats
The judges are looking for somebody who can shine in content, clarity and charisma. These tips will help you prepare for the heats.
The content of the presentations must be scientifically accurate. If the topic chosen has controversy or uncertainty around it, then the presentation must acknowledge the opposing views. The scientific topic presented should be well chosen to suit the audience.
Clarity is critical for effective science communication. The structure of the presentation must enable the audience and judges to easily follow the talk and they should be left with a full understanding of the scientific concept chosen.
The audience and judges should be left inspired and enthused about science. The winner will be a charismatic presenter who makes the science easy to listen to, entertaining, exciting and who is not only able to communicate the science but who can share their passion for it.
Judge's top 10 tips
- Think about the beginning and the end
Hook us at the start, and then give us a satisfying ending that leaves us feeling we’ve had a complete journey (it’s nice if it brings the beginning back in some way, but that’s not the only way to end).
- Don’t try to copy somebody else’s style
Go with what works for you.
- Make sure there’s enough science in there
We can learn a lot in three minutes if you tell it well.
- Tell us something you’re excited about…
...your enthusiasm will shine through.
- Let go of the PowerPoint safety net
Printing your slides onto a t-shirt or, worse, laminated bits of paper reduces you from 3 to 2 dimensions.
- Be in the moment
Acknowledging what’s happening right here, right now (even if it’s something going wrong!) keeps us engaged – and shows you’re confident enough to cope.
- Don’t overdo your introduction
You need to set a scene, give us a moment to grasp who you are and lead into your subject, sure. But you need to do all of that quickly! You haven't really started until the introduction is behind you – keep it punchy.
- Know where you’re going
However much you've slaved over the individual words of your performance, make sure you know the waymarks too: the bullet-points that keep you on track. There are probably around five of them, and the last one will usually be your last line. If that's fixed in your mind then no matter how many of your carefully-honed lines fall apart, you still know how you're going to finish. So that's one less distraction.
- “What will they talk about later?”
What's your piece about? You need to be able to answer that in, say, ten words. Those words need to work when prefixed with "Did you know…" or "I heard this amazing thing today…". Give people memorable nuggets they can use as social currency, it's the best way of spreading ideas around.
- Think theatrically
The impact of a prop can be changed by how it's introduced - is it carried on, picked up, or revealed? Similarly, you can trail your finale, tease it, or reveal it from an unexpected direction. There's no right or wrong here, you have to choose what best suits you and your story. But make sure you choose rather than just letting it happen.