Making a presentation
Your research is finished, or almost there. It’s time to share your results – at a
conference, with a research group, or in a class. An oral presentation is meant
to showcase your work and tell the story. Here are some points to consider as you prepare for your presentation.
10 Presentation Tips
Be sure to click on the link above to see a brief PowerPoint presentation on tips and caveats for using computer-generated presentation aids. The presenter's notes for each slide are also included.
Find out how long your talk should be and stick to it.
Practice giving the talk and make appropriate edits if you go over time. It is
always fine to end a bit early – then your audience has time to ask questions.
In general, plan on about 1 minute per PowerPoint slide plus time for
Will you be speaking to a general audience or to specialists
in your field? You may need to define certain terms – beware of jargon and
What are the points you want to convey? What is the main
point you want audience members to remember about your talk the following day?
What is significant about your project? What is most interesting or surprising?
Be judicious about the amount of information you include. At
the minimum, your talk should (1) introduce you; (2) present your research
question and why it matters; (3) describe how you conducted your project; (4)
explain what you found out and what it means; and (5) conclude with a summary
of your main points and acknowledgements.
or other displays
These tools should emphasize important points and help your
audience follow your argument. Make sure your font size and all graphical
displays are large enough to be easily read from a distance. Limit the amount
of text on each slide; one “rule of thumb” is no more than 6 words across and 6
lines of text.
You should consider using one of NAU's PowerPoint templates.
If you’re using PowerPoint, test it using the on-site
technology set-up ahead of time, if at all possible. DO be prepared to give
your talk even if technology fails (so bring a printout of your slides to speak
from, in case disaster strikes).
This is likely to be a somewhat formal occasion, so prepare,
dress, act, and speak accordingly. DO share your enthusiasm for your project.
Practice – practice – practice speaking slowly, clearly, and
loudly enough to be heard over typical audience (e.g., coughing, shifting in
chairs, turning pages in a program) and room (e.g., air conditioning, hallway
talk, opening/closing doors) noises.
- Avoid reading your talk – or your PowerPoint
- Do look at individual audience members
- Pause when you take a breath (you’ll think
- Don’t agonize over mistakes or say you’re sorry
- Pause to let strong ideas sink in – your audience
needs time to think about key points
There are many resources available on the internet to help
you; a search using “good research presentation” yields many results. The
following website has many more helpful tips on these, and other, topics