The Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences

Developing oral presentation skills

Communicating science orally, whether it be through a conference presentation, lecture, poster talk, lab meeting, informal meetings with your adviser, in an elevator with a stranger, or with your family and friends, is a critical skill to effectively relay information. Practicing your oral presentation skills is something you will work on in a variety of ways, from a presentation in classes your first semester all the way up through your thesis defense. In addition to the numerous opportunities you will have to practice these skills, there are multiple resources listed below to help you to really hone these skills.



Campus resources:



Off campus resources:

  • ComSciCon: The communicating science workshop for graduate students by Harvard University



Online resources:




  • Present a poster or oral presentation of your research at conferences related to your research and/or through scientific societies
  • Present a poster of your research at the Penn State Graduate School Exhibition held each Spring semester
  • Present your research to fellow graduate students and faculty (e.g. MCIBS+ student-run research seminar)
  • Present at the Millennium Cafe
  • Participate in the Ecology Graduate Student Association Science cafe events at Webster's bookstore
  • Participate in a journal club (e.g. the Immunology journal club) or start your own journal club
  • TA for a class in your adviser's home department
  • Videotape yourself giving a presentation and then watch to improve
  • Ask for feedback regarding your strengths and weaknesses after giving any presentation
  • When watching others give presentations, take note of what they do well and don't do well to incorporate what you learn into your presentations