Tips for Crafting your PRD Presentation

An effective 3-minute PRD video presentation is dynamic, concise, informative and focuses on the essential points of your research. Use your three minutes to shine to address three major points: the WHAT, HOW, and especially the WHY of your work, aimed at a broad, non-specialist audience. Think of it as an exercise in generating excitement for your scholarship in others who are most likely to be outside of your discipline or specialty. 

To that end, here are some suggestions for you as you prepare your video submission.

Components of a great presentation

Introduce yourself

Be sure to tell your audiences who you are and what your role is at Princeton University.

  • "Hi, my name is Grace Matthews, I'm a junior in the department of Comparative Literature, and I'm looking forward to sharing a little bit about my research on an obscure Renaissance poetess, Amedea degli Aleardi." (Grace Matthews, "The Beloved as Speaker: Amedea degli Aleardi's 'Deh, non esser Iason,'" PRD 2021)


Be extremely clear when defining your project. After all, there are bound to be several viewers who will have never been exposed to your field before your presentation. Think about how you would introduce your work to someone who you already knew had no prior understanding of your topic (e.g., a roommate or family member), or how you would explain your work to as wide a demographic as possible without jeopardizing the richness of your scholarship. What fundamentals and essential information would they need to know? What question(s) about the world are you trying to approach or resolve? Instead of trying to present the whole project in its entirety—and rushing through lots of details—you may want to focus on one or two of the most exciting, crucial points that lend themselves to good, broad takeaways and can be understood by a nonspecialist audience. Make sure that you define your key terms so that the audience can follow your presentation.

  • "I want to speak about a research topic that's near and dear to my heart: Black maternal mortality and morbidity. You may not know this, but Black women experience far higher risk of complications and even death from labor, delivery, pregnancy, and the postpartum period." (Abyssinia Lissanu, "Black Maternal Mortality and Morbidity: An Urgent Crisis," PRD 2021)


How you’ve done your work is just as important as the work being done. How has your project taken shape, and how have you carried it forwards? Be sure to articulate your methods to viewers outside of your field who may have never set foot into a science lab, done a close reading of a text like the one you’re discussing, been to the part of the world you’re studying, or ever thought about art in the way you’re performing or presenting it. You might ask yourself: how do I give my audience the tools to understand my motives for approaching my project in the way that I have?

  • "We transformed COVID-19 death count datasets into a sonic and visual landscape, an immersive performance space we call the 'datascape.' First, we sonified COVID-19 death count datasets, turning numbers into melodies using software like TwoTone and MusicAlgorithms, later layering on orchestrations and voice recordings in GarageBand for richness. Then, by plugging melodies into and playing with the code of various techno-artists’ incredible audio-reactive MAX/MSP 'patches' (see video credits), we transformed our sonified data-melodies into visual landscapes. We developed choreography to move within and with this virtual environment. Finally, to place our dancing bodies in this datascape, we used various recording methods – Cubemos’ Skeleton Cam, Unity’s Blob-Tracking/Depth-Kit Package/RealSense Depth Cameras, and Gustavo Silveira’s Audio-Reactive MAX/MSP Webcam Mesh -- translating our bodies into digital 'ghosts.'" (Molly Bremer and Niara Hightower, "DISEMBODIED: Dancing in the Datascape," PRD 2021)
  • "For our study, we did not leap right in and try to construct the full model at once; rather, we made the model more and more complex each time, observing how motors interact with static microtubules; dynamic microtubules; and eventually microtubules with steric interactions or soft repulsive behavior." (Rebekah Adams, "Computational Study of Microtubule Networks in Cell Division," PRD 2021)


Why should audiences care about your project? Why do YOU care about your work? The last thing you want is for your audiences to be left wondering what the point of your presentation was, or what’s at stake in any of it. If you submit an art piece or performance, you must also discuss the scholarship behind it. This presentation is not only a chance for you to lay out what you’ve done and how you’ve done it, but also to demonstrate concisely what it brings to the table within and beyond your field. Remember, you’re speaking to a general audience, so try to think about your work’s applicability in a relatively broad sense.

  • "Every event in Earth's paleoclimate reveals a piece of evidence for the events that led to it. And thus, studying these events is crucial to being able to predict modern climate change." (Devdigvijay Singh, "An ultra-high spatial resolution multi-spectral macro-imager for geological samples," PRD 2021)

Presentation tips

Be concise

Remember, this is only THREE MINUTES. Think carefully about how much time you’ll allot for each of the three categories above. Rather than trying to condense your entire project into three minutes, think of this presentation as a window, a brief glimpse into what makes your work exciting and fun. We’re not asking you to minimalize or diminish your work, but rather to frame it in a way that suits the time allotted. Cut to the chase! Get us to the juicy bits as soon as you can!

For more tips, check out these workshops:

  • Crafting and Sharing Your Research Story
  • Clearly Communicating Complex Concepts
  • Simple-Language Science: Make Your Scientific Story Engaging and Accessible

Be dynamic

On that note, if you’re excited about your work and what it contributes to the world, it will be to your presentation’s benefit. Present with energy! Practice your presentation several times, and experiment with different cadences, different audiences (if you can), and different styles. See what works for you, and whatever it is, get us excited about it!

For more tips, check out these workshops:

  • After the Research: Presenting with Clarity and Enthusiasm
  • Connection, Not Perfection: An Introduction to Public Speaking

Be creative

Think about ways that you can make your presentation memorable not just in its contents but also in how you present them.

For more tips, check out this workshop:

  • Visualizing Your Ideas