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The thesis presentation seminar (publication event)

Background to the Presentation

Thestudent has developed his/her abilities to apply knowledge and skills in professional duties requiring expertise according to the objectives of his/her thesis. It is time to make the findings public.

The presentation session is an important event. It is the last step in the journey to expertise. Above all it is a learning situation where existing professionals in a specific field meet those on their way to becoming experts. Although it is a formal situation, discussion is natural and free. There is an encouraging and enthusiastic atmosphere amongst the attendees. The level of discussion is a good indicator of how deeply the topic has been examined. All those attending the presentation session, work towards building a successful and interactive demonstration of professional knowledge and skills.

Students plan the presentation so that it takes place in UAS facilities, the work place or some other appropriate facility. You should discuss the date of the presentation with the commissioning party in case it can be combined with an event that is important to the commissioning party such as a final project seminar or the start of some new activities, etc. The thesis presentation is guided by the same set of instructions that are appropriate to any type of presentation and your own presentation skills regardless of the type of thesis in question. The thesis is allocated 2 – 3 teaching hours (2 H 15 min) for the presentation session. The presentation facility should be organised so that the presenter(s), opponent and Chair are in view of each other. The presenter makes sure that the facility is comfortable and appropriately prepared for the theme under discussion.

Thesis Presentation Skills

Presenting comprises presentation skills, first impressions, verbal and non-verbal communication and vocabulary used by the person presenting the thesis. Presentation skills comprise the many factors that determine whether or not the presenter is actually present and makes an impact. Such skills start with how you greet your audience. First impressions (facial expressions, gestures, dress, appearance, posture etc.), attitude towards the audience, use of vive, preparation, contents and visual illustrations, as well as audience activation all contribute towards a whole. Non-verbal communication emphasises eye contact of the presenter with the listeners, gestures, facial expressions, movements, positions, changes in intonation, time management and use of space. Verbal communication includes use of voice, intonation, strength of voice and tempo of speech. Language and vocabulary have an important part to play in making your presentation a success. During the event experts will be handling and discussing issues relevant to their own field so a fluent academic style and field-specific language will be appropriate. The author, opponent (peer partner) and the Chair should speak in clear, audible voices using appropriate effects for emphasis and illustration.

Practice presenting during earlier seminars and use presentation guides!

Planning your Presentation

The author of the presentation is responsible for planning how the presentation will be given. If the presentation is a group assignment all members of the group should be equally involved in processing the material for the presentation. Planning your presentation includes preparation, contents, progression and use of visuals.

a. Preparing for your Presentation

When preparing for a presentation, apply the same principles that you have learnt from earlier classes. Preparation involves an analysis of your audience and setting goals bearing the results of your analysis in mind, choice of contents, planning how you will present the material, planning the facilities and environment, acquiring the relevant equipment and material, assessment of learning planning and practice. Start in good time because over time you will gain more confidence and feel less nervous about the presentation itself. Content planning is based on careful audience analysis. The author of the thesis should find out who is coming to listen to the presentation, why they will be attending, what will they know and what they will be expecting. A student audience and an audience consisting of work-based professionals will be expecting different issues.

b. How to Organise your Contents

The contents of the thesis presentation and how you progress from one subject to another is the result of careful planning. After analysing your audience and setting your goals you need to plan the contents of your presentation. Decide which subject(s) you wish to include and what are the main points of the subject that you select. Present and illustrate the main points to outline your thesis. A good presentation progresses from one issue to the next in an ordered logical fashion. In order to achieve a cohesive presentation make sure that transfer from one issue to the next is smooth. To indicate transfer form one issue to the next use a marker of some kind e.g. an illustrative example, a rhetorical question, a summary of the main points or an introductory phrase.

Plan the introduction and conclusion to your presentation well. Start your presentation in a manner that suits your topic, the situation and your listeners after greeting your audience. You should aim to awaken their interest and motivation towards the topic to be presented. The conclusion is just as important because your listeners will remember it once you have stopped speaking. The conclusion should serve both the audience and the subject. Plan your conclusion so that the objectives of the presentation can be assessed.

The thesis author(s), peer partner and the Chair may discuss the thesis in order to achieve the objectives set.

Basic structure of the presentation session:

  • The Chair opens the session, welcomes everybody present and presents the speakers and other participants 
  • The author(s) present the thesis according to their plan 
  • The peer partner addresses the meeting 
  • The author(s) and peer partner discuss the details of the thesis 
  • The Chair briefly comments on the presentation and opens the floor to discussion 
  • All present may participate in the discussion presided over by the Chair 
  • The Chair summarises the proceedings, thanks all those present and concludes the session

The aim of the presentation session is that the author(s)

  • is able to present a condensed version of his/her thesis 
  • is able to answer the peer partner’s and the audience’s questions and to defend his/her point of view 
  • is able to provide and receive constructive criticism.

When a student acts as opponent or peer partner the aim is that he/she

  • learns to read written presentations with a critical eye and to analyse them 
  • is able to pick out the relevant issues of the thesis 
  • is able to practise providing criticism of the thesis based on his/her own point of view and to assess its content and presentation

c. Illustrating your Presentation

You can make your thesis presentation by using equipment and speech to varying degrees. Depending on the aims and contents of your thesis presentation you can use PowerPoint, the blackboard, objects, illustrative performances, music etc. Consider your visuals carefully since half a dozen PowerPoint slides or transparencies will be sufficient. One slide or transparency should contain the main issues or points. Make sure that you know how to use the equipment. Additionally students are expected to produce a poster.

Please remember that the use of equipment can never totally replace human communication and interaction. Other important forms of illustration include examples, a specific vocabulary, gestures and expressions, pauses, stories, tales, experiences etc.

The Responsibilities of the Thesis Presentation Participants

The Chair

  • opens the session, welcomes all participants 
  • introduces the thesis topic and author 
  • leads discussion and indicates who may contribute to the discussion 
  • ensures that the session keeps to schedule and that the discussion keeps to the point 
  • leads general discussion using questions and proposals if discussion does not progress 
  • keeps the minutes 
  • summarises the main points of the session and how it went 
  • thanks all participants 
  • concludes the session

The Author(s) of the Thesis

  • Must plan the presentation session in a way that promotes the objectives of thesis 
  • Prepares spoken presentation in advance on the basis of the thesis process 
  • Presents thesis process according to plan – illustrates presentation 
  • Answers questions and responds to comments from the peer partner defending his/her own point of view 
  • When addressed by the audience comments on what they have to say and answers their questions 
  • Thanks representatives from work, the opponents, the audience and the thesis supervisor

The opponent (peer partner)

  • Provides peer partner support 
  • Acts as counter-arguer to the author of the thesis
  • Prepares in advance to provide counter-arguments to the thesis 
  • Prepares the discussion carefully taking into account the listeners and the objectives of the thesis (student, UAS, work) 
  • Pays attention to his/her own presentation style and language use 
  • Follows the work involved in completing the thesis 
  • Asks for more specific information based on his/her reading of the thesis and the presentation, also suggests corrections and improvements while simultaneously explaining his/her opinions. 
  • Uses polite questioning instead of listing faults 
  • Makes sure that the audience gains an overview of the whole thesis under discussion 
  • Provides encouraging and constructive feedback in words and writing 
  • Provides an overall evaluation of the thesis, its strengths and weaknesses 
  • Participates in the general discussion 
  • Assesses own learning gained from being part of thesis process

The Audience

  • Should be familiar with the contents of the written version of the thesis and the poster 
  • Actively listens to the thesis presentation and the comments of the peer partner (opponent) 
  • Makes notes during the presentation 
  • Participates in general discussion by asking questions and expressing opinions 
  • Proposes different practical points of view 
  • Approaches the event as a professional learning session
  • Gains skills for coming presentation and seminar sessions

The Teacher Supervisor

  • Integrates theoretical and practical knowledge to support the author(s) 
  • Underlines the significance of the thesis in terms of UAS studies and the work place 
  • Participates in the capacity of equal partner in discussion and assessor 
  • Pays attention to the oral presentation skills, visuals and explanations demonstrated during the presentation 
  • Is familiar with the whole thesis and brings in depth knowledge of the whole process to the session 
  • Assesses the performance of all participants involved in the session 
  • Presents own assessment of the thesis

Work Place Representatives and Other Visitors

  • Participate in the session as listeners until the beginning of the general discussion unless the presenter requires the participation of the commissioning party 
  • Can comment in their capacity as experts during the presentation 
  • Ask questions and comment during general discussion 
  • Bring expertise from the work place to the session 
  • Propose an assessment of how the thesis serves and develops working life