Parts to a Seminar





Write a sentence that describes the subject matter.




Now extract a title from that.





What is the history?  Who was involved in this area of physics?




Where and when did the research take place?  




What techniques and equipment were used in this research?




Images, Equations, and Numbers


Include some images of the equipment, scientist, charts and graphs.

Show at least one equation and some numbers to support your ideas.




Summarize your talk at the end in a few sentences.


Using the notes above, create an outline on paper or in a word document.  Then drop by the office to enter your ideas and images into PowerPoint or onto transparencies.




How to Give a Seminar

Ideas from the Web



Any effective talk must do three things:


(1) communicate your arguments and ideas,


(2) persuade your audience that they are true, and


(3) be interesting and entertaining.


Your Presentation


(1) Give an opening statement to familiarize the audience with your subject matter.

      What is your key message? Can you write it down as a single sentence?


(2) Speak slowly, clearly, and loud enough to be heard by all.


(3) Remember the 5WH's: who, what, why, when, where, and how.


(4) Summarize your talk at the end in a few sentences.


On the Day


Sound enthusiastic.  A good presenter downloads information at a sensible rate, pauses, and uses voice and body language to good effect. A brilliant speaker opens a two-way channel with the audience, and is sensitive to, and can adapt to, the non-verbal messages coming back from the audience. You need to look at us, even in the dark: eye contact is essential, or we think you have lost interest in us.

If you can - move. A static presentation read from a lectern is safe: it is rarely memorable. Try being brave, especially if you are not tied to a fixed microphone.  Which presentations have you found memorable in the past? A dynamic interaction, especially one supported by 'props', can be wonderfully persuasive - but do your research first and don't try anything potentially career limiting, especially if you have not practiced it first. You could try liberating yourself from the lectern for question time at least.

If you can't answer a question, admit it, offer to find out and say when and how you will respond. You could also try opening the issue to the floor: the chances are that someone will know and come to your aid.




The most important part is the choice of your subject. Look through popular journals such as Scientific American or, a bit more special, Physics Today. You may also be able to talk about some research that you have participated in. Check with the instructor as far ahead as possible whether your intended topic is suitable for this seminar. Include one transparency or slide for the contents and one for the summary. Make sure that the slides are readable for everybody. Check the size of the letters, do not stand in front of the projector and make sure you know where a certain slide is at a given time.


And Finally


Prepare, practice and get feedback beforehand. Revise. Enjoy the talk and so shall we: we're on your side. Be yourself. Find your own style. Be imaginative in your use of support material. Many superb speakers are not technically brilliant, but they compensate by taking pains to consider what the audience will enjoy, and find both memorable and relevant. As a result, they outshine those with honed technique but no empathy or rapport with their listeners. Prepare well, and then think not so much of what you will say, but what the audience will hear. We will thank you for your courtesy, and remember you with pleasure.