Belinda (Dan Li) is a PhD student in the School of Education (SoE), within Faculty of Humanities Arts and Social Science (HASS). Her PhD is about second language learners’ motivation (L2 motivation), gender and career choices.

As part of my HASS Peer2Peer Research Culture Assistant role for the second time, I organized three hybrid workshop sessions on academic presentation skills. These workshops were developed from previous event series on Public Speaking Skills in Academic Presentation (previous blog can be found here, previous resources can be found here). Both the podcast about these event series and relevant resources can be found here (“RESOURCES for reference” section). The aim was to provide an opportunity for HASS PGRs to meet up (with drink & biscuits provided), make connections, practice academic presentation skills, present research and contribute to resources to share within the community. The three sessions were: 1) Practicing essential elements of academic presentation skills; 2) Improving academic presentation skills together; 3) Presenting your research.

Some reflections on the events and helpful tips on improving academic presentation skills from the participants include:

“It was a very informative and detailed session delivered in a very digestible way! It was also really useful that Belinda repeated the importance of the audience when presenting, because it’s so easy to forget or overlook that when you’re focused on being the one presenting. The way the workshop was organised and her attentiveness made me feel so involved/present as if I had attended in-person!”

(Isahbella Rai, PhD in Law)

“It was a very friendly space with good feedback – I liked the roles for feedback to involve everyone. Belinda has done a great job organizing and made us feel really comfortable in the room. It’s great also to catch up with people from various background and with a broad scope of research.”

(Aymeric Lamy, PhD in History)

“What I really liked was what Belinda said about us integrating those roles within us and taking them away so that we become better speakers overall. And I think going around practicing each role could really help us integrate those roles, having the time checker, ah checker etc. within us. I like that we got to switch roles and each of us shared our own experiences.”

(Soufyane Badreddine, PhD in Sociology)

“I think these sessions are very nice ways to self-reflect and become self-aware and self-conscious while you are presenting something. They actually provide a good opportunity to see how other people present in an informal atmosphere. Belinda also provided some useful tips and points to consider. It would be nice that they are done at the university level and become a regular thing and people from different fields can work together.”

(Mykyta Isagulov, PhD in English Literature)

“This event gave me a sense of the range of what people are working on. It was super helpful to practice and evaluate others and my public speaking. Every time you are tempted to say ‘em’, just leave a gap. It allows people to internalize what you said before. Try to begin the presentation with a question and spend the next however much time you have defining the terms, unpacking and then continuing the range of the debate in terms of answering the question, then conclude with a fun fact that people can take home.”

(Mark Schunemann, PhD in Philosophy and Anthropology)

“This could be brilliant across the whole university, every subject matter, all levels (also undergraduate and master’s level), departments and faculty. It is important for us to learn how we present ourselves, but also, it’s really important at a completely cross university interdisciplinary level to meet people within all levels of linguistic understanding and presentation ability. I’ve been doing this for years and I learnt something today.”

(Shona Buchanan, PhD in Drama)

“I think it is really important that everybody comes and tries every session like this. It is really useful to have a safe and supportive space to practice, make all your mistakes, but then get the help to improve it and make it as best as you can before you actually go out and do it in front of people who might be more critical. So that you are more prepared, and you feel ready and confident in what you are doing because you have had that supportive space.”

(Joanna Merrett, PhD in education)

“It was a very comfortable space to present my research. If there is a way to get more PGRs involved from other departments, it would be great!”

(Saman Abdalkarim, PhD in Kurdish Studies)

“Great to meet others – helpful to hear a range of feedback. Belinda was a very engaging speaker and put us at ease. As to improving academic presentation skills, think about your audience and how to frame / explain what you say accordingly.”

(Ramona Nash, PhD in Theology and Religion)

Hopefully this blog can help more PGRs improve academic presentation skills effectively. Many thanks to all the PGRs who supported the events and helped contribute to the resources. Please feel free to contact me ( if you have any questions or simply want to talk about it.