For many students, the thought of public speaking is enough to fill them with dread, no matter how few people are in the audience. In the fifth part of this eight-part series on the Extended Project Qualification, we will be discussing the all-important final presentation.
In parts one to four of the series, we covered choosing your topic, the qualities you need to be a successful EPQ candidate, writing your essay or creating your product, and writing your production log. After these things are done, the final EPQ stage is the presentation.
There are six central pieces of content that you should include in your presentation, which include the following:
1. What your EPQ topic was about
This one should be obvious. You should give a full and clear explanation as to what your topic was. The word “clear” is essential here, so you should avoid too much specialist jargon or terminology that obscures the real meaning.
2. The reasons behind your topic
Besides the topic itself, you should also explain your motivations for choosing it. It could be that the topic held significance for you in terms of your future career, or your preferred university degree course. There may be more to it too, some students make significant changes to their title as they move from a working title to the finalised one. Explaining the reasons behind that can also be done in this section.
3. Your aims and objectives
Another thing to include is a clear statement that reveals what your project goals were. This is crucial in demonstrating the academic value of the inquiry you have made. Top-scoring projects are ones that have a clear purpose and valid academic direction, so being able to summarise that purpose in your presentation is very important.
4. Research covered
A further part of the presentation should include what research you conducted. You can talk about where you found your source material, challenges you faced, what was useful, and what wasn’t, how the research in reality compared with your expectations, and so on. You should include all the research that you included in the final project, as well as mentioning briefly any that perhaps was of interest, but in the end, didn’t turn out to be needed.
5. What lessons you’ve learned
Similar to your reflection in the production log, this element of the presentation is the most relevant for your growth and development. After all, one of the most significant benefits of completing the EPQ is to gain experience and knowledge of independent research and creative project management. You should speak candidly and honestly about what you’ve learned from this experience, especially what things you have determined that you need to improve about yourself or the way you work.
6. How it will impact your future
The EPQ, as we outlined in part one of the series, can have a tremendous bearing on your future, and particularly with university admissions tutors. In your presentation, you can demonstrate the value and validity of your inquiry by showing the clear links between your EPQ and your future career or university degree choices, and how this project has impacted them.
These “impacts” may include confirmations of where your passion lies or may have shown that you want to make some changes to your future plans. They may also reveal much about what skills and qualities you need to foster in yourself before you leave for university.
Besides writing content to cover the elements mentioned above, you might also want to prepare some visuals that help to reinforce your words. This may take the form of a PowerPoint or Keynote presentation, or perhaps even a handout.
Once you’ve written your presentation and prepared your visuals, you should run through the presentation in full more than once before the big day. Practising silently while sitting at your desk is not good enough, you’ll have to find some willing listeners and practice in front of them, or at least do rehearsals while speaking out loud and standing facing your “audience” (even if they don’t technically exist).
Why do we say this? Saying presentation words in your head and clicking through a presentation is a world away from the experience of standing and projecting your voice to deliver the presentation to listeners in the audience. That’s why you should at least practice saying the speech out loud while standing up, and preferably in front of a small audience of friends or family members.
If you have visuals like a PowerPoint or other slide presentation, use a remote clicker to move the slides along, so you don’t have to be stooped over a computer pressing arrow keys or clicking mouse buttons every 30 seconds.
You may imagine yourself delivering the presentation to a giant hall filled with teachers, examiners and other people scrutinising your every move. In fact, should you find this idea nightmarish, you can do your presentation just in front of your supervisor and one other audience member, perhaps the centre coordinator, for instance. That’s all it takes to meet the minimum audience requirements.
It can seem nerve-wracking, and some students dread the presentation most of all, but at the end of the day, the hard work of the presentation is done beforehand in your research and essay-writing stages. By the time it comes to the presentation, you already have all the information you need in your head and your production log, it’s just a question of transferring that information into a new format.
Don’t miss the next part in the series, which will deal with the roles of the EPQ supervisor and centre coordinator.