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Oral Presentation

Tips for Creating Effective Oral Presentations


Effective oral presentations use slides to engage the audience and provide a concise overview of the research project without overwhelming the audience with details. The outline and learning objectives should be made known at the beginning of the presentation. Presentations should be organized thematically and visually so that audiences know where they are in the presentation at all times. Presenters should assume their audience is intelligent, but ignorant of the specifics of your field of research. Clearly define all terms and avoid using jargon that will not be understood by a diverse audience.


Oral presentations generally run 12 minutes long with 3 minutes for questions from the audience. Panel sessions are moderated to ensure the session runs on time. Please respect and observe all the instructions given by the moderator, especially those that regard timing.


The graphic design of slides should not interfere with the presentation of your content. Be consistent with your style. Avoid distracting animations and slide transitions. Avoid busy backgrounds and decorative typefaces. Not all fonts will reproduce the same way on all computers. Use TrueType fonts or font families that are easy to read like Helvetica, Times, Arial and Symbol. Use high contrast fonts (e.g., light yellow on a dark blue black background). Slides should be presented in horizontal (landscape) layout.

Presenters will be provided with PC computers. Be sure to test your presentation on a PC-compatible computer to insure videos, images and fonts will work properly. Microsoft’s Power Point will only present movies if they are properly embedded into the slide presentation or, if the linked media is included in a subfolder. A common mistake is to forget to include the folder that contains the linked media.


Please arrive at least 15 minutes early to your assigned room to test your slides and meet with the panel moderator. Session rooms will be equipped with the following:

  • One projector and a screen
  • One PC computer with a Windows-readable USB flash drive and CD-ROM drive.
  • Microsoft PowerPoint 2007
  • Audio system with microphones

To avoid delays, authors should load media onto a Windows-readable USB flash drive or a CD-ROM. It is always wise to carry a backup copy and/or store a backup on the Internet.