Medicine: Immunology

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Immunology

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Allergies: Modern life and me

Allergies are on the rise and reaching epidemic proportions, but curiously only in the western world. Is there something about the way we are living that is making us allergic? Professor Graham Rook believes that the changes we have made to our environment are impacting our microbiome - the bacteria that live in and on every one of us - and that this is having a knock-on effect on our immune system.

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Structuring an oral presentation: The introduction

This part of the presentation should arouse the interest of the audience. You might want to consider using:

  •     a short anecdote or example related to the topic
  •     a provocative question
  •     humour (used very carefully)
  •     a hook relating the topic to general experience

For example:
If your presentation is about the benefits of modern transportation, you may wish to begin with a rhetorical question:

How many people have been caught in slow-moving traffic and been late for something important?

After you get the audience's attention, you must tell your audience the purpose of your presentation in one or two clear sentences. Finally, you need to explain how the topic will be developed:

    This paper will investigate the...
    The effects of ... will be shown by a comparison of x and y.

The body

This is the largest section of the presentation, and it must be clearly structured and logically developed. The audience's attention may wander during the presentation. Therefore, it is important in the body to explain links in ideas and to keep reminding them of the direction of the presentation.

Examples:

    The first major point...
    Following from this...

The conclusion

The conclusion should round off the topic by:

  •     stating the main points again
  •     evaluating the importance of the information
  •     formulating some conclusions and/or recommendations
  •     reviewing the implications (if any)
  •     leaving the audience with a strong 'take-home message'

Example:

" In my presentation today, I've explained how modern transportation in cities has enabled us to accomplish more in our day across a wider area. We can now...

Preparing the presentation

Visual aids stimulate interest, illustrate factors which are hard to explain with words alone, and make it easier for the audience to understand your presentation and the points you wish to make.

Preparing visual aids In preparing visual aids, consider the following points:

  •     limit the number of slides or overheads used
  •     demonstrate ideas simply
  •     include only key words and phrases
  •     be sure lettering is large enough to be read at the back of the room
  •     use bullet points, avoiding large slabs of written text
  •     label graphs, charts, figures, and diagrams

Notes

Never read your presentation. Instead, convert the text of your presentation into key words and notes.

To do this:

  • first, write your presentation as a whole text. When you're done, change this to spoken language. Remember, there is a difference between written and spoken language, and nobody likes to listen to someone who sounds like a book! Avoid long, complicated sentences and overly formal words like heretofore or thereafter.
  • then, go through your text and underline or highlight key words and ideas.
  • place these key words on notecards in short bullet points or outline format. If you don't write out the whole text in your notes, you won't be tempted to bore the audience by reading your whole presentation out loud.

Presenting

Practise so that your presentation is within the time limit. Allocate a percentage of the total time for each section of the presentation. Monitor the time as you progress. If you find you're running out of time, quickly summarise the remaining points. If you must skip over sections because you have really gone over time, eliminate the least important facts and details, concentrating on only the main points.

In your presentation, you need to indicate to your audience the purpose of each part of your presentation, and how they relate to the overall topic.

Tips: Most people feel nervous about public speaking. If you feel really nervous, remember:

  •     take a few deep breaths to calm yourself
  •     pretend you're confident and act accordingly
  •     speak more slowly
  •     focus on your message and communicate it clearly
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