Presentation guidelines

A page within Undergraduate Research & Creativity

General presentation guidelines

I. General format

All presentations (oral and poster) will generally contain the elements listed below. For most professional conferences, you will need to submit an abstract complete with title and authors as part of the registration process. Most presentations will contain:

  • Abstract: A summary of the project stating what you have set out to do, how you have done it, the key results, and the main findings and conclusions.
  • Title: Provides the name of the project, the people involved in the work and their affiliation. The title should be both descriptive and concise.
  • Introduction: You should summarize the background work that has led up to the current status of your research or creative work in this area. These should then lead to declarations of your specific project aims and objectives. Include a clear statement of what you are trying to discover or create, or the hypotheses you are testing.
  • Theory or Methods: Explains the techniques or procedures you used in your study. You should also state and justify any assumptions, so that your results can be viewed in the proper context.
  • Results: Shows examples of the main results or products of your work.
  • Conclusions: Discusses the main findings of your investigation and puts them into a broader context of other work done in your field.
  •  Further Plans: Contains your recommendations for further work on the subject and possible long-term goals or applications.
  • Acknowledgments: Thank the organizations who gave you money for your work and/or the individuals who donated their time to help you with your project.

II. Planning

  • Gathering Information: Collect all of your data or products you generated and try to organize them into a clear story. The order that you present your work may not be the same order that you created figures, tables, or pieces of work. It is more important to have the story flow logically from the work done before you to your results. Consult with your faculty advisor on how which results are the most important and which could be omitted.
  • Audience: The level of background you will need to provide and the depth you go into your results will depend on your audience. For a general audience you will need to explain more about your discipline, the major unanswered questions related to your work, and techniques specific to your area. You may also need to explain your results in more detail. If your audience is in your discipline you can gloss over much of this detail, as they will already know it, and instead focus on the nuances in your results.

III. Design

  • Keep the material simple. Be concise. Present only those results that illustrate the main findings of the project.
  • Be organized. Your presentation should follow a logical flow of ideas. Practice going through your talk or poster, if you find yourself jumping around on the poster or talk, rearrange the slides or figures to improve the flow.
  • Be consistent by using the same colors, fonts, and sizes of images throughout your presentation.
  • Use colors sparingly and with taste. Use colors only to emphasize, differentiate, and to add interest. Choose light background and dark text color combinations that have high contrast and complement each other.
  • Do not use more than two font types. Use bold or italics to highlight important points, not a different font. Titles and headings should appear larger than other text, but not too large.
  • Do not use all UPPERCASE type in your posters (Acceptable for HEADINGS)
  • Equations should be large enough to read clearly and accompanied by nomenclature and definitions to explain the significance of each variable.
  • Graphs, tables and figures should have large enough fonts to be read at a distance. Use color to highlight different lines on a chart. Add a legend below figures and graphs and a title above tables. If you use images other than those you created, cite their source.
  • Review: Make draft versions of your poster sections or printouts of your slides and check them for:
    • Mistakes, legibility, inconsistencies in style, different layout arrangements
    • Ask your advisor or other students to look at your poster or sit through your talk and provide comments.