Types of Research Presentation Talks

Download our 'What to Expect Guide' (PDF)

At the University of Liverpool’s postgraduate research conference this June, we will have external speakers, current members of academic staff and postgraduate students presenting and discussing their research. These will be given in various formats which include lightning talks, poster presentations, panels ‘birds of feather’ and presentations. Below is a brief indication of what to expect from each speakers’ chosen form of research presentation.

Lightning Talks

These are short presentations that focus on just a couple of key points. Done well, they are a great way to get your point across in a small amount of time. The time restriction forces speakers to edit their message to focus on the most important elements. Scientists and technologists often use lightning talks to shift their approach from “look at everything I know” to “what is the most important thing for you to know right now?

A group sit chatting in a break out room

Like to see a lightning talk in practice? Watch a Youtube talk on 'how to be smart' (we watch this on repeat!)

Poster Presentations

A group brainstorming ideas

Believe it or not, the clue is in the name. A poster presentation is a formal, research-based presentation of your work. A poster presentation provides a visual representation of your research through text, charts, graphs, and other visual aids. A poster presentation allows viewers to read your research material at their own leisure and to interact with you—perhaps asking questions about your methods or your findings. Typically, for poster presentations, viewers can expect to be in a room where others are presenting posters at the same time—sometimes 10 others, sometimes 100 others, or more.


Panel discussions at conferences are a useful way to trigger an exchange of viewpoints among experts, either with prepared statements or in response to questions from the audience. Because they involve on-the-spot interaction, they are more difficult to prepare for than presentations. Because they may involve divergence of viewpoints and possibly competition for speaking time, they are also more difficult to manage than the normal questions at the end of a presentation. For the same reasons, they are more challenging to moderate than a regular conference session. Panels are teams. Whether or not panellists agree on all issues, they can and should work together to create an interesting discussion for the audience. 

Desk layout including laptop, phone and notes

Like to see a panel discussion in practice? Watch a YouTube talk on Digital Marketing 



An oral presentation is a formal, research-based presentation of your work. Presentations happen in a range of different places. For instance, if you work at a company that assigns people to teams to collaborate on projects, your project team might give an oral presentation of your progress on a particular project.

People taking notes at a talk

Like to see a research presentation in practice? Watch an example 'Presentation of Research Findings' video on YouTube