Oral Presentation Information
An oral presentation is meant to showcase your work and tell the story. For consistency and convenience, presentation templates are available through the University Marketing team, but we also encourage you to be creative.
Consider these points as you prepare for your presentation:
Preparing Accordion Closed
Dress professionally. For the Undergraduate Symposium, business casual (nice slacks or a skirt, a button-down shirt or blouse) will help you look and feel professional. Wear
comfortable shoes; you’ll be standing for quite some time.
Become comfortable with your topic and have short answers prepared that enable you to have a discussion with attendees.
Timing Accordion Closed
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 questions.
Audience Accordion Closed
It is important to keep the audience in mind when preparing your oral presentation. Will you be speaking to a general audience or to specialists in your field? Especially when speaking to a general audience, be aware of your use of jargon and acronyms. Define specific terms as needed.
Content Accordion Closed
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?
Organization Accordion Closed
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.
PowerPoint, graphics, or other displays Accordion Closed
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.
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).
Practice Accordion Closed
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 slides
- Do look at individual audience members
- Pause when you take a breath (you’ll think better)
- 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
Additional resources Accordion Closed
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
Six Minutes: Speaking and Presentation Skills
- Speech writing including How to Use Quotes in Your Speech: 8 Benefits and 21 Tips
- Delivery techniques including How to Weave Statistics into Your Speech
- Power Point & visuals including How to Create Pro Slides in Less Time: Don’t Worry, Be CRAPpy
- Speaker habits includes two postings on 10 Presentation Habits My college Students – and you – Must UN-Learn – Part 1 and Part 2
- Resources for speakers
- Speech critiques including Hans Roslings’ TED 2006 talk illustrating Six Simple Techniques for Presenting Data