The Research Talk





General tips

·          Prepare, prepare, prepare!


·          Practice, practice, practice!



·          If you plan to use equipment, such as a laptop, DVD player, CD player, etc., prepare a Plan B. Technology fails.


·          Before the talk starts, check the equipment. Make sure everything works, including your Plan B.


·          While audience members come to the room, try to greet them, and retain their names. You will know the members of the hiring committee, but other people will show up, including students. Try to write the names –or at least some- down. But do it carefully so that no one will notice. If you get a question from some of those members you should mention their name. They will like this very much. Other members of the audience will be impressed.


·          Start your talk with an attention grabber. You have to attract your audience attention. Don't take for granted that they will listen attentively to you just because your talk is part of the hiring process. Think of telling a –short- story that will surprise, interest, or even shock your audience. Your story has to introduce your topic and you should get back to it at least once or twice during your talk.


·          Advance your thesis. Tell your audience the most important finding of your research upfront.


·          Outline the organization of your talk. Tell your audience what you are going to tell them.


·          Tell your audience the objective of your talk.


·          Relate your talk to the broader context. Explain how your research fits within your discipline or disciplines. Briefly mention ongoing debates or important issues and how your research relates to them.


·          Connect your research talk with your research agenda. Tell your audience how this talk relates to your research agenda. But do so briefly. This will probably be one of the questions during the interview.


·          It is very important to explain why your research is important. This will let your audience know why it is important for them to pay attention to your talk.


·          Make your talk interesting with good examples, relevant anecdotes, and significant details.


·          The audience will only remember a few key points – so, don’t give too many details, statistics, or lengthy explanations.


·          Figure out what you really want them to remember – then say it in several different ways at several different times throughout your talk.


·          You have to be memorable without breaking academic presentation conventions. You can include a song, a short video, or a picture that relates to your presentation. You should also try not to use PowerPoint slides as everyone else does.


·          The conclusions should summarize your thesis, reconnect it to the big picture, and make the audience feel that they are not leaving the talk empty-handed. You should deliver your promise, i.e., your audience should now see that your research is in fact important.


·          Plant some questions throughout the talk.


·          Anticipate some questions, and try to think of effective ways to address those questions, such as with a short story, an example, or an anecdote.


·          If you have a confrontational audience member, don't be defensive. Simply answer the question, stress your point firmly, and give the floor to another member.


The Research Talk and your Audience

(from University Career Services, University of Houston)



Target Audience


Detail Level / Purpose



Everyone present


Your parents would understand it.


Your approach

People in related fields


Show you know the field.


Your results

People who work in your field


Show that you are the world expert on something.



Everyone present


Relate your results to the big picture.