Looking for a Halloween Costume?

By Brenda Straka

For many of us, we feel far more at ease when working on our research in the comfort of our offices and homes rather than in front of a large audience presenting our diligently carried-out work. We have sat through our fair share of presentations in colloquiums, department meetings, job talks, etc., and we know almost immediately when someone is a good presenter.

Even if a presenter is brilliant and is working on fascinating research, it can be difficult to convey this in a talk or presentation — especially for graduate students who may be fighting off nerves or shyness.

In honor of Halloween, one trick (or treat!) that some use to overcome these nerves is to pretend to be more confident than they actually feel — and, in a sense, put on the costume of a Great Public Speaker/Confident Social-Personality Psychologist.

The costume of the Great Public Speaker/Confident Social-Personality Psychologist comes with:

  1. Showing genuine excitement and enthusiasm for the research that is being shared. You wouldn’t spend all the time that you do on your research if you did not think it was exciting and worth being studied!
  2. Strong, but moderately paced speech that is both clear and concise. Using silence can seem scary, but it is often effective with pacing and is better than a drawn out “Ummm…”.
  3. Notes for the talk that hardly have to be used, thanks to practice and preparation. Since your eyes are not glued to your notes, you can make eye contact with the audience.
  4. Remembering that you’re the expert. If you’re asked a question that you don’t readily have an answer to, you can always say, “That is a great question and I’d like to think about it more and get back to you.”

We hope “wearing this costume” will help you with presenting your research in the future. And we also wish you a very happy Halloween!