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Conference Presentation Slides: A Guide for Success

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In our experience, a common error when preparing a conference presentation is using designs that heavily rely on bullet points and massive chunks of text. A potential reason behind this slide design mistake is aiming to include as much information as possible in just one slide. In the end, slides become a sort of teleprompter for the speaker, and the audience recalls boredom instead of an informative experience.

As part of our mission to help presenters deliver their message effectively, we have summarized what makes a good conference presentation slide, as well as tips on how to design a successful conference slide.

Table of Contents

What is a conference presentation

Common mistakes presenters make when creating conference presentation slides, how can a well-crafted conference presentation help your professional life, how to start a conference presentation, how to end a conference presentation, tailoring your message to different audiences, visualizing data effectively, engaging with your audience, designing for impact, mastering slide transitions and animation, handling time constraints, incorporating multimedia elements, post-presentation engagement, crisis management during presentations, sustainability and green presentations, measuring presentation success, 13 tips to create stellar conference presentations, final thoughts.

The Britannica Dictionary defines conferences as 

A formal meeting in which many people gather in order to talk about ideas or problems related to a particular topic (such as medicine or business), usually for several days.

We can then define conference presentations as the combination of a speaker, a slide deck , and the required hardware to introduce an idea or topic in a conference setting. Some characteristics differentiate conference presentations from other formats.


Conference presentations are bounded by a 15-30 minute time limit, which the event’s moderators establish. These restrictions are applied to allow a crowded agenda to be met on time, and it is common to count with over 10 speakers on the same day.

To that time limit, we have to add the time required for switching between speakers, which implies loading a new slide deck to the streaming platform, microphone testing, lighting effects, etc. Say it is around 10-15 minutes extra, so depending on the number of speakers per day during the event, the time available to deliver a presentation, plus the questions & answers time.

Delivery format

Conferences can be delivered in live event format or via webinars. Since this article is mainly intended to live event conferences, we will only mention that the requirements for webinars are as follows:

  • Voice-over or, best, speaker layover the presentation slides so the speaker interacts with the audience.
  • Quality graphics.
  • Not abusing the amount of information to introduce per slide.

On the other hand, live event conferences will differ depending on the category under which they fall. Academic conferences have a structure in which there’s a previous poster session; then speakers start delivering their talks, then after 4-5 speakers, we have a coffee break. Those pauses help the AV crew to check the equipment, and they also become an opportunity for researchers to expand their network contacts. 

Business conferences are usually more dynamic. Some presenters opt not to use slide decks, giving a powerful speech instead, as they feel much more comfortable that way. Other speakers at business conferences adopt videos to summarize their ideas and then proceed to speak.

how to make conference presentation

Overall, the format guidelines are sent to speakers before the event. Adapt your presentation style to meet the requirements of moderators so you can maximize the effect of your message.

The audience

Unlike other presentation settings, conferences gather a knowledgeable audience on the discussed topics. It is imperative to consider this, as tone, delivery format, information to include, and more depend on this sole factor. Moreover, the audience will participate in your presentation at the last minute, as it is a common practice to hold a Q&A session. 

Mistake #1 – Massive chunks of text

Do you intend your audience to read your slides instead of being seduced by your presentation? Presenters often add large amounts of text to each slide since they need help deciding which data to exclude. Another excuse for this practice is so the audience remembers the content exposed.

Research indicates images are much better retained than words, a phenomenon known as the Picture Superiority Effect ; therefore, opt to avoid this tendency and work into creating compelling graphics.

Mistake #2 – Not creating contrast between data and graphics

Have you tried to read a slide from 4 rows behind the presenter and not get a single number? This can happen if the presenter is not careful to work with the appropriate contrast between the color of the typeface and the background. Particularly if serif fonts are used.

Using WebAIM tool to check color contrast

Use online tools such as WebAIM’s Contrast Checker to make your slides legible for your audience. Creating an overlay with a white or black transparent tint can also help when you place text above images.

Mistake #3 – Not rehearsing the presentation

This is a sin in conference presentations, as when you don’t practice the content you intend to deliver, you don’t have a measure of how much time it is actually going to take. 

Locating the rehearsing timing options in PowerPoint

PowerPoint’s rehearse timing feature can help a great deal, as you can record yourself practising the presentation and observe areas for improvement. Remember, conference presentations are time-limited , don’t disrespect fellow speakers by overlapping their scheduled slot or, worse, have moderators trim your presentation after several warnings.

Mistake #4 – Lacking hierarchy for the presented content

Looking at a slide and not knowing where the main point is discouraging for the audience, especially if you introduce several pieces of content under the same slide. Instead, opt to create a hierarchy that comprehends both text and images. It helps to arrange the content according to your narrative, and we’ll see more on this later on.

Consider your conference presentation as your introduction card in the professional world. Maybe you have a broad network of colleagues, but be certain there are plenty of people out there that have yet to learn about who you are and the work you produce.

Conferences help businesspeople and academics alike to introduce the results of months of research on a specific topic in front of a knowledgeable audience. It is different from a product launch as you don’t need to present a “completed product” but rather your views or advances, in other words, your contribution with valuable insights to the field.

Putting dedication into your conference presentation, from the slide deck design to presentation skills , is definitely worth the effort. The audience can get valuable references from the quality of work you are able to produce, often leading to potential partnerships. In business conferences, securing an investor deal can happen after a powerful presentation that drives the audience to perceive your work as the very best thing that’s about to be launched. It is all about how your body language reflects your intent, how well-explained the concepts are, and the emotional impact you can drive from it.

There are multiple ways on how to start a presentation for a conference, but overall, we can recap a good approach as follows.

Present a fact

Nothing grabs the interest of an audience quicker than introducing an interesting fact during the first 30 seconds of your presentation. The said fact has to be pivotal to the content your conference presentation will discuss later on, but as an ice-breaker, it is a strategy worth applying from time to time.

Ask a question

The main point when starting a conference presentation is to make an impact on the audience. We cannot think of a better way to engage with the audience than to ask them a question relevant to your work or research. It grabs the viewer’s interest for the potential feedback you shall give to those answers received.

Use powerful graphics

The value of visual presentations cannot be neglected in conferences. Sometimes an image makes a bigger impact than a lengthy speech, hence why you should consider starting your conference presentation with a photo or visual element that speaks for itself.

an example of combining powerful graphics with facts for conference presentation slides

For more tips and insights on how to start a presentation , we invite you to check this article.

Just as important as starting the presentation, the closure you give to your conference presentation matters a lot. This is the opportunity in which you can add your personal experience on the topic and reflect upon it with the audience or smoothly transition between the presentation and your Q&A session.

Below are some quick tips on how to end a presentation for a conference event.

End the presentation with a quote

Give your audience something to ruminate about with the help of a quote tailored to the topic you were discussing. There are plenty of resources for finding suitable quotes, and a great method for this is to design your penultimate slide with an image or black background plus a quote. Follow this with a final “thank you” slide.

Consider a video

If we say a video whose length is shorter than 1 minute, this is a fantastic resource to summarize the intent of your conference presentation. 

If you get the two-minute warning and you feel far off from finishing your presentation, first, don’t fret. Try to give a good closure when presenting in a conference without rushing information, as the audience wouldn’t get any concept clear that way. Mention that the information you presented will be available for further reading at the event’s platform site, and proceed to your closure phase for the presentation.

It is better to miss some of the components of the conference than to get kicked out after several warnings for exceeding the allotted time.

Tailoring your conference presentation to suit your audience is crucial to delivering an impactful talk. Different audiences have varying levels of expertise, interests, and expectations. By customizing your content, tone, and examples, you can enhance the relevance and engagement of your presentation.

Understanding Audience Backgrounds and Expectations

Before crafting your presentation, research your audience’s backgrounds and interests. Are they professionals in your field, students, or a mix of both? Are they familiar with the topic, or must you provide more context? Understanding these factors will help you pitch your content correctly and avoid overwhelming or boring your audience.

Adapting Language and Tone for Relevance

Use language that resonates with your audience. Avoid jargon or technical terms that might confuse those unfamiliar with your field. Conversely, don’t oversimplify if your audience consists of experts. Adjust your tone to match the event’s formality and your listeners’ preferences.

Customizing Examples and Case Studies

Incorporate case studies, examples, and anecdotes that your audience can relate to. If you’re speaking to professionals, use real-world scenarios from their industry. For a more general audience, choose examples that are universally relatable. This personal touch makes your content relatable and memorable.

Effectively presenting data is essential for conveying complex information to your audience. Visualizations can help simplify intricate concepts and make your points more digestible.

Choosing the Right Data Representation

Select the appropriate type of graph or chart to illustrate your data. Bar graphs, pie charts, line charts, and scatter plots each serve specific purposes. Choose the one that best supports your message and ensures clarity.

Designing Graphs and Charts for Clarity

Ensure your graphs and charts are easily read. Use clear labels, appropriate color contrasts, and consistent scales. Avoid clutter and simplify the design to highlight the most important data points.

Incorporating Annotations and Explanations

Add annotations or callouts to your graphs to emphasize key findings. Explain the significance of each data point to guide your audience’s understanding. Utilize visual cues, such as arrows and labels, to direct attention.

Engaging your audience is a fundamental skill for a successful presentation for conference. Captivate their attention, encourage participation, and foster a positive connection.

Establishing Eye Contact and Body Language

Maintain eye contact with different audience parts to create a sense of connection. Effective body language, such as confident posture and expressive gestures, enhances your presence on stage.

Encouraging Participation and Interaction

Involve your audience through questions, polls, or interactive activities. Encourage them to share their thoughts or experiences related to your topic. This engagement fosters a more dynamic and memorable presentation.

Using Humor and Engaging Stories

Incorporate humor and relatable anecdotes to make your presentation more enjoyable. Well-timed jokes or personal stories can create a rapport with your audience and make your content more memorable.

The design of your conference presentation slides plays a crucial role in capturing and retaining your audience’s attention. Thoughtful design can amplify your message and reinforce key points.

Creating Memorable Opening Slides

Craft an opening slide that piques the audience’s curiosity and sets the tone for your presentation. Use an engaging visual, thought-provoking quote, or intriguing question to grab their attention from the start.

Using Visual Hierarchy for Emphasis

Employ visual hierarchy to guide your audience’s focus. Highlight key points with larger fonts, bold colors, or strategic placement. Organize information logically to enhance comprehension.

Designing a Powerful Closing Slide

End your presentation with a compelling closing slide that reinforces your main message. Summarize your key points, offer a memorable takeaway, or invite the audience to take action. Use visuals that resonate and leave a lasting impression.

Slide transitions and animations can enhance the flow of your presentation and emphasize important content. However, their use requires careful consideration to avoid distractions or confusion.

Enhancing Flow with Transitions

Select slide transitions that smoothly guide the audience from one point to the next. Avoid overly flashy transitions that detract from your content. Choose options that enhance, rather than disrupt, the presentation’s rhythm.

Using Animation to Highlight Points

Animate elements on your slides to draw attention to specific information. Animate text, images, or graphs to appear as you discuss them, helping the audience follow your narrative more effectively.

Avoiding Overuse of Effects

While animation can be engaging, avoid excessive use that might overwhelm or distract the audience. Maintain a balance between animated elements and static content for a polished presentation.

Effective time management is crucial for delivering a concise and impactful conference presentation within the allocated time frame.

Structuring for Short vs. Long Presentations

Adapt your content and pacing based on the duration of your presentation. Clearly outline the main points for shorter talks, and delve into more depth for longer sessions. Ensure your message aligns with the time available.

Prioritizing Key Information

Identify the core information you want your audience to take away. Focus on conveying these essential points, and be prepared to trim or elaborate on supporting details based on the available time.

Practicing Time Management

Rehearse your presentation while timing yourself to ensure you stay within the allocated time. Adjust your delivery speed to match your time limit, allowing for smooth transitions and adequate Q&A time.

Multimedia elements, such as videos, audio clips, and live demonstrations, can enrich your presentation and provide a dynamic experience for your audience.

Integrating Videos and Audio Clips

Use videos and audio clips strategically to reinforce your points or provide real-world examples. Ensure that the multimedia content is of high quality and directly supports your narrative.

Showcasing Live Demonstrations

Live demonstrations can engage the audience by showcasing practical applications of your topic. Practice the demonstration beforehand to ensure it runs smoothly and aligns with your message.

Using Hyperlinks for Additional Resources

Incorporate hyperlinks into your presentation to direct the audience to additional resources, references, or related content. This allows interested attendees to explore the topic further after the presentation.

Engaging with your audience after your presentation can extend the impact of your talk and foster valuable connections.

Leveraging Post-Presentation Materials

Make your presentation slides and related materials available to attendees after the event. Share them through email, a website, or a conference platform, allowing interested individuals to review the content.

Sharing Slides and Handouts

Provide downloadable versions of your slides and any handouts you used during the presentation. This helps attendees revisit key points and share the information with colleagues.

Networking and Following Up

Utilize networking opportunities during and after the conference to connect with attendees who are interested in your topic. Exchange contact information and follow up with personalized messages to continue the conversation.

Preparing for unexpected challenges during your presenting at a conference can help you maintain professionalism and composure, ensuring a seamless delivery.

Dealing with Technical Glitches

Technical issues can occur, from projector malfunctions to software crashes. Stay calm and have a backup plan, such as having your slides available on multiple devices or using printed handouts.

Handling Unexpected Interruptions

Interruptions, such as questions from the audience or unforeseen disruptions, are a normal part of live presentations. Address them politely, stay adaptable, and seamlessly return to your prepared content.

Staying Calm and Professional

Maintain a composed demeanor regardless of unexpected situations. Your ability to handle challenges gracefully reflects your professionalism and dedication to delivering a successful presentation.

Creating environmentally friendly presentations demonstrates your commitment to sustainability and responsible practices.

Designing Eco-Friendly Slides

Minimize the use of resources by designing slides with efficient layouts, avoiding unnecessary graphics or animations, and using eco-friendly color schemes.

Reducing Paper and Material Waste

Promote a paperless approach by encouraging attendees to access digital materials rather than printing handouts. If print materials are necessary, consider using recycled paper.

Promoting Sustainable Practices

Advocate for sustainability during your presentation by discussing relevant initiatives, practices, or innovations that align with environmentally conscious values.

Measuring the success of your conference presentation goes beyond the applause and immediate feedback. It involves assessing the impact of your presentation on your audience, goals, and growth as a presenter.

Collecting Audience Feedback

After presenting at a conference, gather feedback from attendees. Provide feedback forms or online surveys to capture their thoughts on the content, delivery, and visuals. Analyzing their feedback can reveal areas for improvement and give insights into audience preferences.

Evaluating Key Performance Metrics

Consider objective metrics such as audience engagement, participation, and post-presentation interactions. Did attendees ask questions? Did your content spark discussions? Tracking these metrics can help you gauge the effectiveness of your presentation in conveying your message.

Continuous Improvement Strategies

Use the feedback and insights gathered to enhance your future presentations. Identify strengths to build upon and weaknesses to address. Continuously refine your presentation skills , design choices, and content to create even more impactful presentations in the future.

Tip #1 – Exhibit a single idea per slide

Just one slide per concept, avoiding large text blocks. If you can compile the idea with an image, it’s better that way.

Research shows that people’s attention span is limited ; therefore, redirect your efforts in what concerns presentation slides so your ideas become crystal clear for the spectators.

Tip #2 – Avoid jargon whenever possible

Using complex terms does not directly imply you fully understand the concept you are about to discuss. In spite of your work being presented to a knowledgeable audience, avoid jargon as much as possible because you run the risk of people not understanding what you are saying.

Instead, opt to rehearse your presentation in front of a not-knowledgeable audience to measure the jargon volume you are adding to it. Technical terms are obviously expected in a conference situation, but archaic terms or purely jargon can be easily trimmed this way.

Tip #3 – Replace bulleted listings with structured layouts or diagrams

Bullet points are attention grabbers for the audience. People tend to instantly check what’s written in them, in contrast to waiting for you to introduce the point itself. 

Using bullet points as a way to expose elements of your presentation should be restricted. Opt for limiting the bullet points to non-avoidable facts to list or crucial information. 

Tip #4 – Customize presentation templates

Using presentation templates is a great idea to save time in design decisions. These pre-made slide decks are entirely customizable; however, many users fall into using them as they come, exposing themselves to design inconsistencies (especially with images) or that another presenter had the same idea (it is extremely rare, but it can happen).

Learning how to properly change color themes in PowerPoint is an advantageous asset. We also recommend you use your own images or royalty-free images selected by you rather than sticking to the ones included in a template.

Tip #5 – Displaying charts

Graphs and charts comprise around 80% of the information in most business and academic conferences. Since data visualization is important, avoid common pitfalls such as using 3D effects in bar charts. Depending on the audience’s point of view, those 3D effects can make the data hard to read or get an accurate interpretation of what it represents.

using 2D graphics to show relevant data in conference presentation slides

Tip #6 – Using images in the background

Use some of the images you were planning to expose as background for the slides – again, not all of them but relevant slides.

Be careful when placing text above the slides if they have a background image, as accessibility problems may arise due to contrast. Instead, apply an extra color layer above the image with reduced opacity – black or white, depending on the image and text requirements. This makes the text more legible for the audience, and you can use your images without any inconvenience.

Tip #7 – Embrace negative space

Negative space is a concept seen in design situations. If we consider positive space as the designed area, meaning the objects, shapes, etc., that are “your design,” negative space can be defined as the surrounding area. If we work on a white canvas, negative space is the remaining white area surrounding your design.

The main advantage of using negative space appropriately is to let your designs breathe. Stuffing charts, images and text makes it hard to get a proper understanding of what’s going on in the slide. Apply the “less is more” motto to your conference presentation slides, and embrace negative space as your new design asset.

Tip #8 – Use correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation

You would be surprised to see how many typos can be seen in slides at professional gatherings. Whereas typos can often pass by as a humor-relief moment, grammatical or awful spelling mistakes make you look unprofessional. 

Take 5 extra minutes before submitting your slide deck to proofread the grammar, spelling, and punctuation. If in doubt, browse dictionaries for complex technical words.

Tip #10 – Use an appropriate presentation style

The format of the conference will undoubtedly require its own presentation style. By this we mean that it is different from delivering a conference presentation in front of a live audience as a webinar conference. The interaction with the audience is different, the demands for the Q&A session will be different, and also during webinars the audience is closely looking at your slides.

Tip #11 – Control your speaking tone

Another huge mistake when delivering a conference presentation is to speak with a monotonous tone. The message you transmit to your attendees is that you simply do not care about your work. If you believe you fall into this category, get feedback from others: try pitching to them, and afterward, consider how you talk. 

Practicing breathing exercises can help to articulate your speech skills, especially if anxiety hinders your presentation performance.

Tip #12 – On eye contact and note reading

In order to connect with your audience, it is imperative to make eye contact. Not stare, but look at your spectators from time to time as the talk is directed at them.

If you struggle on this point, a good tip we can provide is to act like you’re looking at your viewers. Pick a good point a few centimeters above your viewer and direct your speech there. They will believe you are communicating directly with them. Shift your head slightly on the upcoming slide or bullet and choose a new location.

Regarding note reading, while it is an acceptable practice to check your notes, do not make the entire talk a lecture in which you simply read your notes to the audience. This goes hand-by-hand with the speaking tone in terms of demonstrating interest in the work you do. Practice as often as you need before the event to avoid constantly reading your notes. Reading a paragraph or two is okay, but not the entire presentation.

Tip #13 – Be ready for the Q&A session

Despite it being a requirement in most conference events, not all presenters get ready for the Q&A session. It is a part of the conference presentation itself, so you should pace your speech to give enough time for the audience to ask 1-3 questions and get a proper answer.

a Q&A slide to start the Q&A session

Don’t be lengthy or overbearing in replying to each question, as you may run out of time. It is preferable to give a general opinion and then reach the interested person with your contact information to discuss the topic in detail.

Observing what others do at conference events is good practice for learning a tip or two for improving your own work. As we have seen throughout this article, conference presentation slides have specific requirements to become a tool in your presentation rather than a mixture of information without order.

Employ these tips and suggestions to craft your upcoming conference presentation without any hurdles. Best of luck!

1. Conference PowerPoint Template

how to make conference presentation

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2. Free Conference Presentation Template

how to make conference presentation

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how to make conference presentation

15 Best Tips for Presenting at a Conference

November 18 2021 Thursday, November 18, 2021 Tips and Tricks

Matthieu Chartier, PhD.

Founder @ Fourwaves

Presenting at a conference is an important part of a researcher’s life: it allows you to share all the work you’ve been doing for months or years.

At the same time, it also exposes some intimate aspects of yourself to the outside world, like your thought process, your level of knowledge on a topic, or your ability to structure ideas.

I personally found myself frightened about presenting on multiple occasions. I remember my first seminar at the beginning of my master's degree in biochemistry. Coming from a bachelor in ecology, I felt like an imposter in the new department and was scared others would judge my level of knowledge or the quality of my presentation. Of course, these were only negative projections I was making in my mind, but they reflect the stressful vibe one can feel when preparing to give a talk.

On the positive side, a successful presentation leads to a better understanding of your work by the audience. This generates insightful discussions that can provide ideas about what the next steps of your research should be or clues to solve roadblocks.

It also leaves a good impression on the work done at your lab which can attract new collaborators. Also, getting your work noticed, especially at large conferences, can lead to your publications being more cited. If you’re a student, you can be rewarded with a presentation prize that will boost your curriculum when applying for scholarships.

Above all, learning to communicate, especially to the general public, is a valued skill.

So how can you nail your next presentation? There are no magic pills, but in this article, we’ll share some important tips to help you deliver the best presentation at your next event.

1- Do not start by working on your slides

It is very easy to get lost in your slides if you do not plan first. That is why you need to outline your key ideas and the order in which you want to present them BEFORE jumping into building slides in PowerPoint (or another platform).

You can start with bullet points, a flowchart, or something similar. The crucial part here is to make sure you are laying out the information and not just throwing it on the slides as they come to your mind. It is easy to get lost if you just keep adding slide after slide without any concern for length and/or connections between the information.

You can use sticky notes, paper planners, online flowchart generators, or other tools to help you in the layout phase.

Then, equally important to the key ideas is how you tie all of that content together. You should plan a logical transition and a progression between each idea. This will help you define a common thread and establish the flow of your presentation. Ultimately, it will help the audience capture the message you’re sharing.

In summary, knowing what you want to talk about is key. So before working on your slide deck and your handouts, develop this layout that highlights and connects the information you want to share.

2- Have a duration in mind

You’ll have a limited amount of time to get your message across, so you have to plan your presentation around that time frame. If you have 15 minutes to present your work, plan a presentation that lasts slightly less than that time limit.

Another tip for presentations is to use a timer while presenting to ensure you don’t go overtime.

A lot of people do not plan their time wisely and end up skipping slides in their presentation or going overtime. And guess what? Your audience knows when you skip content because you ran out of time. It comes off as unprofessional and may affect the way people see your work. So take your time preparing your presentation around your time constraints.

If your initial mockup is longer than what it should be, start by analyzing what information could be deleted or ways to get the information across using fewer words. 

It’s often just a matter of focusing on the details that matter the most. Don’t explain all the details of the methodology or the results if it doesn’t add to the story. Keep that for smaller group discussions or during the Q&A period. 

Presenter on stage at a conference

3- Use visuals to your advantage

Visuals are a must in any presentation. Whether it is an image, a chart, a graphic, or a video, visuals help with interpretation and can be an effective way to get your message across or grab the audience's attention.

Just because you’re presenting at an academic conference, it doesn’t mean you can’t use images, videos, or even gifs to help get the message across.

Most people deal better with visuals than words , especially when the information is heavy with data and numbers. But even with visuals, remember to keep it simple. The whole purpose of using visual aids is to help your audience understand the message and not to confuse them with too much information. 

If you’re presenting figures or graphs, remember to use the pointer to highlight the key points while you explain your slide. This is something that is easy to forget when the stress level is high, but it can be a good way to stay grounded and focused on the presentation.

4- Know your audience

In any academic conference, knowing your audience puts you one step closer to delivering an effective presentation. Do your research when starting to prepare your presentation.

Skimming the proceedings of past editions of a conference can reveal past participant lists and their profile. Different conferences have different proportions of undergraduate and graduate students, postdocs, or principal investigators. Knowing the proportions of each category can indicate the level of knowledge on certain topics and if you need to spend time explaining certain areas so they understand the rest of the presentation or not.

If you find the abstracts, the Powerpoints, or the recordings of talks from previous editions, it can also help you adjust the depth in which you can go when explaining certain concepts.

Do not fall under the trap of assuming your audience knows nothing about your research subject. If they are at your research conference, it is most likely that they possess knowledge of (and interest in) what you are talking about. So, skip the basics that everyone knows if you feel you can.

Use jargon that is easily understood by the community at large and make sure you define less common abbreviations.

Knowing your audience is not always an easy task. If you’re not sure if your audience is familiar with a specific topic, don't be afraid to ask them! It will make everyone feel more involved and you will get their attention for the rest of the presentation. The bottom line, adapt your message to the audience.

5- Practice, practice, and practice again

No one should know your presentation better than you. When preparing for a particular conference, rehearse your talking points out loud and make sure you feel 100% comfortable with the information laid out on your slides. 

In addition, make sure the key ideas and the logical transition between them are crystal clear. One of the worst things that can happen to presenters is getting lost in their own presentation. 

You should practice your speech out loud to become familiar with the words as this will help your tone and confidence. When you sound confident, people are keener to listen to what you are saying.

One additional common but useful tip is to record yourself while practicing. It will help you know where you're lacking and what needs to be improved. 

 For example, some people tend to talk really fast or jump on sentences while others tend to ignore full stops. No matter what the issues are, recording yourself is a great tactic to find and address them.

Microphone close up

6- Present it to a friend or colleague

Outside of practicing it out loud on your own, practice it in front of your colleagues. It will give you an experience that will resemble the real presentation the most.

While you present, notice their facial expressions. They can reveal parts of your presentation that are unclear. Tell them not to interrupt you during the presentation, but tell them to note down their suggestions or questions for the end. Make sure to use a timer to measure how you’re doing on time.

Some people like to present to someone completely detached from the topic. The idea is that if people who are not completely familiar with the subject can follow your presentation, people in the field should be able to easily follow it as well. 

No matter which option you choose, this exercise will help if you have difficulties speaking in public. Do not be afraid of doing these multiple times before your presentation and always ask for honest feedback. The more you practice, the more confident and more fluent you will be.

During my Ph.D., we often presented to our lab members and went through a Q&A section. Not only was it a good opportunity to practice the presenting skills, but it was also a moment to discuss specific aspects and prepare for potential questions. I remember in some instances, the feedback led to reshuffling the ideas completely in a way that made more sense.

7- Appearances matter

Even though people are coming to your presentation because they are interested in your research, appearances matter. The way you speak, how you interact with your audience, and even what you wear, make an impact. Make sure you wear comfortable clothes. 

 If you’re presenting at an online event, make sure the lighting comes from in front of you and not from behind or it will make your face appear darker. Not seeing a presenter clearly can distract the audience and decrease attention.

Also make sure there isn’t anything distracting in the background, like television or someone walking. The best background is usually solid-colored walls.

8- Sleep and eat well before the event

Get a good night of sleep the night before the event. You will feel well-rested and ready to tackle the presentation. It can be tempting to practice your slides and go over your presentation late at night, but it is sometimes better to get a good night's sleep.

In addition, make sure to eat well. You don’t want to feel dizzy or be occupied thinking about food when you should be thinking about the presentation.

Lastly, have a bottle of water close to you while you’re presenting. That will allow you to take pauses when needed and give your audience time to absorb the information after you jump into the next slide or argument.

9- Have a backup

If you have your presentation stored on a hard drive, make sure to have an extra copy on the cloud and vice-versa. Hard drives can break and technical difficulties can occur with cloud storage, so always have a backup just in case. 

Depending on the guidelines of the event, you can also send a copy of your presentation to the organizer and/or colleague. Send yourself a copy of the presentation by email as well.

A lot of people also have a paper copy of their presentation. That’s the last case alternative but also nice to have. If you are in a poster presentation, this may be harder to achieve.

If you have videos in your presentation, check out if the platform and/or venue can display that, especially the audio (if it’s important). Not all software or places have the necessary (or compatible) technology to display your presentation as they should.

Person holding USB keys

10- Use body language

Body language has an essential role in presentations, especially online ones. Make sure you use body language the right way, otherwise it can be distracting for your audience. That includes fidgeting, repeatedly fixing your hair or clothes, among other things.

In academic conferences, the presentations are usually heavy on the information and data side, so it is important that presenters take advantage of tone of voice, gestures, and other body language resources to get their point across.

It is best to keep eye contact with people in the audience. This way, they will feel you are talking TO them and not AT them. But make sure to alternate and not stare at one single person throughout the whole presentation. 

Be aware of your posture and if you have any notes, make sure to either hold them or have them at eyesight. It is common to have notecards during a conference talk, but it is important to know your presentation and not depend on the notes.

11- Encourage your audience to interact with you

A big part of your presentation is for you to talk about your research. People are there to listen to you and absorb information, but they are also there to make the most out of the experience, and that includes engaging and asking questions.

Prepare yourself to answer questions from the audience. It is impossible to cover everything in a short presentation, so try to cover as much as possible and if there are questions you think will arise from the audience, prepare to answer them.

Depending on the type of presentation and what’s expected, you can keep questions for the end or allow questions during the presentation.

If there is a question that you do not have the answer to, it’s ok to say it. It’s better to offer to look more into it and get back to them rather than trying to improvise an answer. Provide your contact information in the final slide or at the end of your presentation. Some participants can reach out to you if they have any questions, suggestions, or opportunities that could be beneficial to you.

If you are giving an online presentation, invite participants to ask a question through the conference platform or website. For example, Fourwaves has a built-in Q&A section on each presentation page where presenters and participants can interact.

Conference participants taking notes

12- Structure your presentation and let your audience know

Let your audience know what you will be covering in your presentation. Have a clear outline of the topics and make sure to have this journey clear so the audience understands where you are taking them.

You can start the presentation by highlighting the key messages, but don’t forget to have a summary at the end (your conclusion), where you reiterate the main points of your presentation.

13- Pay attention to design

Adhere to the following basic design principles when building your slides. Avoid distracting colors and mixing more than 2 colors in each slide. If you use a light background, you should use a dark font and vice-versa. Make sure the font size is also big enough and that you are not stuffing too much information into a slide.

A good rule of thumb for your slides is to have about 5 bullet points on each one and give enough time for people to read through them if they need to. Most of the information should be coming out of your mouth and not described in the slides. The slides are just a summary (the bullet points) of what you will cover.

If you are adding visuals, make sure they are big enough so people can see them and they are not covering any information.

14- Take other presentations as an example

You have probably been part of dozens and dozens of presentations in a lifetime. Is there something you liked a lot in those or something you hated? If yes, write it down. If it is positive, strive to replicate that in your presentation. If it is negative, discard it.

If you are taking part in an annual event, you may be able to access presentations from the years before and draw conclusions from there. You can also look for similar poster presentations or templates and get inspiration from those.

Keep in mind that every person has a presentation style. Learn the basic guidelines and find what works best for you.

15- Rely on storytelling

Storytelling is relying on stories (narrative) to talk about something (e.g. personal anecdotes, metaphors, comparisons, etc.). People rely on stories for mnemonic purposes and most of the time, it is easier to remember a story or an analogy than it is to remember a specific situation.

No matter what the topic is, analogies make it easier for people to understand facts. Whenever possible, try to use a metaphor or a comparison

Bonus tip - Remember to stop and breathe during your presentation

It’s normal to feel stressed even if you’re super well prepared and that you know your topic inside out.

Make sure to take the time to pause in between slides and to take a good slow deep breath. It will help you stay focused throughout the presentation.

Practice this during your rehearsals. Not talking for 3-4 seconds can seem long for you, but your audience will appreciate it and it will help you feel calmer.

At the core, preparing for a conference presentation is no different than preparing for any type of public speaking assignment. You need to understand the topic very well, research and practice what you are going to say, and know your audience, among other things.  

Most of all, remember: no one is born with great presentation skills, so give yourself room to improve.

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Conference Presentations

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This resource provides a detailed overview of the common types of conference papers and sessions graduate students can expect, followed by pointers on presenting conference papers for an audience. 

Types of conference papers and sessions

Panel presentations are the most common form of presentation you will encounter in your graduate career. You will be one of three to four participants in a panel or session (the terminology varies depending on the organizers) and be given fifteen to twenty minutes to present your paper. This is often followed by a ten-minute question-and-answer session either immediately after your presentation or after all of the speakers are finished. It is up to the panel organizer to decide upon this framework. In the course of the question-and-answer session, you may also address and query the other panelists if you have questions yourself. Note that you can often propose a conference presentation by yourself and be sorted onto a panel by conference organizers, or you can propose a panel with a group of colleagues. Self-proposed panels typically have more closely related topics than conference-organized panels.

Roundtables feature an average of five to six speakers, each of whom gets the floor for approximately five to ten minutes to speak on their respective topics and/or subtopics. At times, papers from the speakers might be circulated in advance among the roundtable members or even prospective attendees.

Workshops feature one or a few organizers, who usually give a brief presentation but spend the majority of the time for the session facilitating an activity that attendees will do. Some common topics for these sessions typically include learning a technology or generating some content, such as teaching materials.

Lightning talks (or Ignite talks, or Pecha Kucha talks) are very short presentations where presenters' slide decks automatically advance after a few seconds; most individual talks are no longer than 5 minutes, and a lightning talk session typically invites 10 or more presenters to participate over the course of an hour or two rather than limiting the presenters like a panel presentation. A lightning talk session will sometimes be held as a sort of competition where attendees can vote for the best talk. 

SIGs (Special Interest Groups) are groups of scholars focused on a particular smaller topic within the purview of the larger conference. The structure of these sessions varies by conference and even by group, but in general they tend to be structured either more like a panel presentation, with presenters and leaders, or more like a roundtable, with several speakers and a particular meeting agenda. These styles resemble, respectively, a miniconference focusing on a particular topic and a committee meeting. 

Papers with respondents are structured around a speaker who gives an approximately thirty-minute paper and a respondent who contributes their own thoughts, objections, and further questions in the following fifteen minutes. Finally, the speaker gets that same amount of time to formulate their reply to the respondent.

Poster presentations ask participants to visually display their ideas on a research poster, which is typically displayed with other research posters in a specific area at a conference. The poster needs to be understandable on its own (without the author) as viewers sometimes look through the posters outside the bounds of the poster session, which is a scheduled period of time where poster authors stand with their posters and engage viewers in conversation about the work. Research posters have long tended to follow common templates for design, but in recent years some scholars have begun challenging these templates for improved usability (for example, the Better Poster campaign as described here  or the APA template based on the original, here.

You can read more about research posters on our resource here .

Presenting the conference paper

Aim to take less time than you are given! If your presentation slot is 15 minutes, aim for 13 or 14 when you practice. A little leeway and a slightly shorter presentation is a courtesy to your audience and to your fellow presenters, and will not at all imply that you are unprepared or unprofessional — in fact, being able to keep well within your allotted time is the mark of a good presenter.

Make sure you speak slowly and clearly, using accessibility aids if available such as a microphone or closed captioning on a slide deck. Many presenters have begun bringing accessibility copies of their talks, which are printed transcripts of the talk using a larger font for audience members who need them. It is also becoming increasingly common for presenters at conferences to share their slides and copies of their talk via a shortened link or QR code found on the bottom of the slides so that audiences may access them later or even while they are in your session.

The conventions for presentation differ based on field. Some fields tend toward reading papers aloud with very little audiovisual accompaniment; others use slide decks; others speak extemporaneously. You can find out more about typical practices in your field by attending conferences yourself and by asking mentors. Generally, you will be able to improve the accessibility of your presentation if you have a visual accompaniment and prepared remarks.

Even in fields where presenters tend to read papers verbatim, it is rarely a good idea to bring a paper from a class or another research paper you have written without editing it for an oral presentation. Seminar papers tend to be too long to read in 15 minutes, and often lead to graduate students surpassing their time limits. Moreover, research papers are meant to be read — they lack the kinds of repetition and simple sentence structure that are more beneficial to listeners. Finally, conference presentations do not serve the same purposes as most class papers — typically in a class, you're expected to show that you have understood the material, but at a conference, listeners are more interested in hearing what contributions you have that might help them in their own research. It's typical to move the bulk of your literature review to an appendix or another document so that you can discuss other scholarship in the area if it comes up in the Q&A, but during your presentation you're left free to focus on your own methods and findings. (Many presenters will even say: "I'm skipping a lot of [X material] for the sake of time, but I'm happy to discuss it later with anyone who's interested.")

Since you will present your paper orally, you may repeat important points and say more about the structure of the essay than a written submission to a journal (or a paper for your undergraduate or graduate courses) would require. This often means signposting orally when you are moving to a new section of the paper or when you are shifting to a new idea. The thesis of your paper should come early in your presentation to give listeners a clear understanding of what is to follow. At this point, you may also overview or forecast your paper and tell listeners how you will move from one argument to the next. It is generally advised to quickly summarize your important points in a bulleted list at the end of your presentation to remind everyone of the two or three most essential arguments or findings.

If you use a slide presentation, you may want to follow the guidelines presented in the OWL resource, Designing an Effective PowerPoint Presentation .


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What It Takes to Give a Great Presentation

  • Carmine Gallo

how to make conference presentation

Five tips to set yourself apart.

Never underestimate the power of great communication. It can help you land the job of your dreams, attract investors to back your idea, or elevate your stature within your organization. But while there are plenty of good speakers in the world, you can set yourself apart out by being the person who can deliver something great over and over. Here are a few tips for business professionals who want to move from being good speakers to great ones: be concise (the fewer words, the better); never use bullet points (photos and images paired together are more memorable); don’t underestimate the power of your voice (raise and lower it for emphasis); give your audience something extra (unexpected moments will grab their attention); rehearse (the best speakers are the best because they practice — a lot).

I was sitting across the table from a Silicon Valley CEO who had pioneered a technology that touches many of our lives — the flash memory that stores data on smartphones, digital cameras, and computers. He was a frequent guest on CNBC and had been delivering business presentations for at least 20 years before we met. And yet, the CEO wanted to sharpen his public speaking skills.

how to make conference presentation

  • Carmine Gallo is a Harvard University instructor, keynote speaker, and author of 10 books translated into 40 languages. Gallo is the author of The Bezos Blueprint: Communication Secrets of the World’s Greatest Salesman  (St. Martin’s Press).

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5 Tips to Help You Prepare for an Education Conference Presentation

As you gather your ideas, adhering to a focused approach will help you give an engaging talk to your professional peers.

Woman practicing giving a speech to an empty room with orange seats

When I have the time and resources, conferences are some of my favorite professional opportunities that I attend—and also ones where I present! The process of creating a conference proposal takes time and sometimes a lot of thought to ensure that your presentation will land with your audience. However, when you’re accepted to present at a conference, how do you prepare for the presentation itself? This is a question that I get asked a lot, and although preparation may vary from person to person, it’s always a good idea to have some guidelines to ensure that your presentation goes well.

Regardless of whether it’s a small or larger conference, preparing your presentation requires planning and organization to deliver a successful and engaging session. I personally like to start planning out my conference presentations about two months in advance of when I’m going to present. This gives me enough time to research, plan, and prepare what I’m going to say and how I’m going to say it. However, some people might plan six or more months in advance, and others prepare the night before. In any case, here are five effective tips to help you.

1. Tailor Your Presentation to Your Audience

This is a crucial step that all presenters should take. Speaking to educators is different from speaking to school leadership, and speaking to school leadership is different from speaking to a group of students. Regardless of whom you are speaking to, understanding the audience attending the conference and designing your presentation to their interests and needs can help you get your message across. Consider the level of knowledge they might have on the topic that you’ll be presenting, and adjust your content and language accordingly. 

More advanced-level sessions can most likely skip some of the entry-level vocabulary and concepts and get straight into more complex topics (for example, a session I give called “Digital Storytelling in the STEM Classroom” is geared toward STEM educators who already utilize books and media in their classrooms but want to learn more about how to integrate technology into that). Also, if you can, address specific concerns and challenges in the field that you are presenting on—it will make your presentation more relevant and impactful.

2. Define Your Key Message

Your key message is the main theme of your presentation, something you’d like for your audience to get out of attending your session. Having a key message is important because it anchors the audience to the core of what you want to say and also ties in your presentation, resources, and potential Q&A to this message. A key message provides the focus of your content and enables your audience to remember the purpose of the presentation.

This can be a theme, a quote, or anything in between. As a suggestion, your key message should be evident in your presentation title and/or abstract. As you build your presentation, keep the key message as a focus of your presentation so that your points come across with clarity.

3. Create a Well-Structured Presentation

Even if you have amazing content that you’d like to share, if your presentation isn’t well-structured, your message could be lost. Organize your content to create a smooth flow of information. A typical structure includes an introduction, an outline of your main points, supporting evidence/action, and a conclusion. Here are some additional considerations:

Keep the text on your presentations large, but not too large. My general rule is that I don’t use anything smaller than 16-point type whenever I’m presenting—anything smaller than that could be too small for viewers to see.

Be mindful of color contrasts. Things like having yellow text on a bright pink or bright blue background can be too confusing for your audience to see, and too much color on a screen is distracting and can make it hard for your audience to follow along with your presentation. It’s best to stick with simple, yet eye-catching, templates that emphasize your key points and message.

Use visuals to enhance understanding and keep the audience interested. Slides, graphs, and videos go a long way to create an engaging presentation. Additionally, avoid too much information or large amounts of text on the slides—it can be overwhelming to the audience and distract from your presenting skills.

If the platform you’re presenting on has accessibility features (such as live captions), use them. People appreciate the ability to have multiple ways to engage in a presentation. There are also some platforms (like Microsoft PowerPoint Live) that allow your attendees to follow along at their own pace and even translate your presentation into different languages as you’re speaking.

4. Practice, Practice, Practice!

Practice absolutely makes perfect when it comes to conference presentations and public speaking. Practice your presentation several times before the conference to become comfortable with your material and delivery. If you’ve got a trusted person to practice in front of, do that—I usually practice in front of my wife and a small group of friends. 

Rehearse and time yourself; pay attention to your pacing and ensure that you stay within the allocated time frame. Rehearsing also helps you identify areas that need improvement, such as clarifying explanations, eliminating filler words, or omitting unnecessary details. 

Additionally, there are new technology tools that can help you practice your presentation if you’re practicing by yourself or if you’d like to get feedback from people that you are presenting to. Two of my favorites are Speaker Coach (in PowerPoint) and DirectPoll .

5. Think About Ways to Make the Presentation Interactive

An interactive presentation is more likely to leave a lasting impact on your audience, so whenever possible, create opportunities for your audience to engage and participate. 

Consider incorporating techniques like asking open-ended questions, conducting polls, or facilitating discussions and breakout groups. In my sessions, I utilize the answer functions in Mentimeter to create word clouds in the beginning and end of my sessions, as well as the polling features in that platform. Activities encourage engaged participation and help maintain the audience’s attention.

Most of all, once it’s time to present, have fun! Presenting in front of audiences is no easy feat, and it is absolutely something to be proud of. Conferences aren’t just all about the preparation and the practice—they’re also about creating engaging presentations and having fun with your audience and peers. Be sure to make time to connect with your audience before or after your presentation and answer any questions they may have.

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Create a Conference Presentation

Common types of conference presentations.

  • Full paper  - The length of a full paper is variable, usually between 20 and 40 min, and rarely exceeds one hour. A full paper may be followed by question time.
  • Short paper  - This type of conference presentation can be as short as 10 min, and very often it is one in a series of short papers in a 1- or 2-hour session on a particular conference sub-topic or theme, each followed by 10 minutes question time. Timing is crucial as it is common for short paper sessions to be carefully managed by timekeepers who will ‘terminate’ your paper after the allocated time.
  • Workshop  - The emphasis of most workshops is on their practical nature. Their purpose is for participants to experience a strategy, a technique or a practical demonstration, and to have opportunities to question you about the value or workability of what you are presenting.
  • Poster  - You prepare a poster of your work (one or more A1 displays, including diagrams, text, references or visuals). This is displayed in an area of the conference venue. Your poster may be staffed at particular times when you are required to be available to provide further information or answer questions about your poster.
  • Discussion paper -  It is assumed that participants have read the paper. A summary is presented at the beginning of the paper (usually, but not always by the paper presenter), and the session consists mainly of a discussion or defence of the issues, questions and ideas raised in the paper.
  • Panel presentation/discussion  - You are one of several people on a panel discussing a theme/topic related to the conference. Your role is to be an expert in a particular issue, topic, technology, strategy or you represent an institution, department or company. Normally you receive advanced notice of this, but sometimes you can be asked to be a panel member at the conference.
  • Roundtable discussion  - This is a short paper presentation followed by the presenter facilitating/workshopping discussion with participants in groups.

Preparing your conference presentation

There are significant differences between a written paper, essay or report and a conference presentation. The introduction of a conference presentation should be considerably longer than that of a written text. Repetition is vital in a conference presentation. An audience needs to hear information several times and in slightly different forms to understand it, whereas in a written text the reader can refer back if necessary. Informal rather than formal language should be used in an oral conference presentation.

Think of a ‘catchy’ title as most conferences run parallel sessions and your presentation may compete with numerous presentations offered at the same time.

You will need to submit an abstract to the conference committee for your presentation to be accepted. If you have already written your paper, this task should be fairly easy as the abstract is a summary of the paper which is usually around 200–400 words . Ensure the issues, questions, thesis as well as the conclusion findings are clearly stated in the abstract.

In case the paper has not been written yet, prepare the abstract in such a way that you do not commit yourself to details that will not be addressed in the final paper.

Ensure that you follow guidelines set by the conference organizers regarding length, layout, references, etc. Write the paper as you would an essay, a report, or, more and more commonly, a journal article. The latter is particularly important if the conference proceedings are to be published (refereed or non-refereed). Check previous conference proceedings or journals in your field to ensure consistency with style, referencing, etc.

Presenting your conference presentation

When presenting your conference presentation you need to know your answers to the following questions:

  • Is the purpose clearly stated: are you reporting, comparing, convincing, arguing, questioning…?
  • Is the thesis/topic clearly stated: “In this paper, I want to report the findings of recent research which shows that under certain conditions, dolphins can be taught how to read simple text”?
  • Are your main arguments/ideas supported with evidence?
  • Are all the materials relevant to the topic?
  • Have you demonstrated your knowledge of the subject?
  • Is the level of technicality suited to the audience?
  • How do you reply to audience’s questions: long questions, ‘mini papers’ disguised as questions…?

Organise your presentation

Most presentations are organised according to a predictable pattern. They have three main stages: introduction, body and conclusion (i.e. tell them what you are going to say; then say it; then tell them what you have said).

When a presentation does not have these clear sections, it can be very difficult for listeners to follow what is being said.


This is the most crucial part of any presentation. You need to capture the audience’s interest in your topic and establish rapport with them. Your introduction should let the audience know what they are going to hear in the presentation. They need to know what to expect in order to get interested and to be able to follow you. Giving them an outline of your presentation in your introduction enables them to do this.

You need to:

  • capture the audience’s attention with a question, quotation, anecdote, or interesting statistic, etc.
  • main theme or main argument
  • main points you will cover and the order in which you will cover them.

The body of your presentation must be clearly organised with the main points highlighted. One effective technique is to number your ideas. Any idea which is new to your audience needs to be presented simply with supportive evidence or examples which will make it more easily understood. Each important idea should be presented several times in different ways within the body of your presentation. Your audience needs several opportunities to absorb the full meaning and the significance of the most important ideas. It is also important to state the links between your ideas clearly.

The body is where you develop your main ideas/argument, using supporting ideas/evidence. Use techniques that make it easy for the listener to follow your talk:

  • number your ideas: “ There are three main factors... ”
  • arrange your ideas in logical order, such as chronological; cause and effect; problem–solution
  • use transitional devices to help the audience follow the direction of your talk: “ secondly…; another important point is...; on the other hand…; I would now like to move on and look at another aspect of the research.. .”
  • state the main idea
  • refer to experts, provide examples to illustrate the idea
  • provide statistics, facts, tell anecdotes (if time permits)
  • provide case studies, etc.
  • repeat important ideas using different words so the audience has several opportunities to absorb them
  • don’t make the information too dense – remember the audience is listening, not reading!

The conclusion sums up main points. The conclusion should reinforce the central ideas of the presentation and signal a forceful ending. A weak, inconclusive or apologetic closing detracts from a good presentation. You should show in your conclusion that you have covered all the points that you said you would in your introduction. You should also show that you are confident, and that you have communicated effectively.

It is important to have a strong conclusion so the audience is left with a good impression.

  • Summarise the main ideas of your presentation.
  • Don’t introduce any new ideas.
  • Work towards a strong ending – don’t finish abruptly or say ‘That’s all’. Perhaps leave the audience with something to think about.

Presentation Tips

Advance preparation.

The more you know about your audience, the more likely you will be able to give an effective presentation. Try to find out as much as you can about who will be there, what their background is, why they will be coming, and how much they will already know about the topic. Go to the room where you will make your presentation and get a feel of its size, acoustics, seating, etc. If you can, familiarise yourself with the equipment in the room.

Clear pronunciation

Your voice must be clear and distinct. If you know you have difficulty with pronunciation, speak a little more slowly than usual. Use intonation, stress, changes in pace (slow down at important points, speed up at details, anecdotes) and pause to keep the listeners’ attention, and focus attention on important points.

Body language

It has been estimated that 75% of meaning transferred is non-verbal.  Try to maintain eye contact with your audience as this helps keep your audience engaged. Focus on standing straight and directly facing your audience, using hand gestures to emphasise important information.

Visual aids 

A presentation can be enhanced by the effective use of overhead transparencies (slides), charts, pictures, posters or PowerPoint presentations (with limited graphic/sound gimmicks). They provide variety and can help reinforce points made. However, you are still the main communicator of your message. Be familiar with your visual aids, refer to them specifically and only display them when you are referring to them, otherwise they will only be a distraction.

  • Physical charts, graphs, pictures, etc.: ensure that the size is appropriate for a large room. If necessary, back up with handouts.
  • Video: ensure the segment shown is not too long in relation to the overall length of your presentation.
  • Limit the amount of material on each visual: your listeners should be able to read and understand a visual in five seconds or less.
  • Be sure your visuals are large enough to be seen by everyone: the lettering should usually be minimum 20-22 pt. font.
  • Use diagrams, graphs and charts instead of words where possible.
  • Eliminate unnecessary detail from diagrams, graphs and charts.

Expression and style

Try to speak to your audience using notes rather than memorising or reading your presentation. In order to do this, you will have to practise your presentations as many times as you can. If possible, perform in front of an audience. Otherwise, practise in front of a mirror or record yourself on your phone. This will also give you an idea of how long your presentation will take.

Use a conversation style to make your audience feel personally involved. Each time you use the word ‘you’, the audience feels compelled to pay attention.  

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Adapted from Barthel, A. 2010, ‘Presenting a conference paper’, ELSSA Centre, University of Technology Sydney.   

UTS acknowledges the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, the Boorooberongal people of the Dharug Nation, the Bidiagal people and the Gamaygal people, upon whose ancestral lands our university stands. We would also like to pay respect to the Elders both past and present, acknowledging them as the traditional custodians of knowledge for these lands.

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how to make conference presentation

A Guide to Conference Presentations

Read a summary or generate practice questions based on this article with the new INOMICS AI tool here .

Giving a presentation at an academic conference can be both stressful and rewarding. While it's incredibly helpful to get feedback and insights on your project from other researchers in your field, it can also be intimidating to hold your work up for scrutiny from others.

Today we're going to share some tips for making your conference presentations as compelling and distinctive as possible, as well as some tips for dealing with conference day nerves and the post-presentation discussion.

Don't make your audience sit through an uninspired, generic presentation – instead, try to focus on your unique insights and let other conference attendees see your enthusiasm and commitment to your subject. Enthusiasm on the part of the presenter goes an awfully long way to making a presentation more exciting to watch!

Here are our tips for improving your conference presentation.

  • Titling your presentation
  • How to use slides
  • Personable or professional?
  • Pitching your voice
  • Moving around
  • Dealing with nerves
  • Post-presentation questions

Download the Conference Monkey Directory - 6 Month Conference List

Give your presentation a fun title

Cute, funny, or pun-based titles are not for everyone, but if you like the idea then it's fine to use a jokey title for your presentation. If that's not your style, then try to pick a title which conveys the interesting big-picture ideas that you'll be discussing, rather than the fine grain details. This helps people from outside your sub-field to know what your talk is about. For example, 'Queen Bee: Social Structures of Hive Species' sounds much more interesting to a non-expert than 'Scent-based communication among hymenoptera'.

Use simple, clear slides

The quickest way to turn your presentation from something interesting to something dragging and dull is by throwing loads of text onto your slides. Whenever you put up a new slide, your audience will stop listening to your speech for a moment while they read the very salient text you've put in front of them. If your slides have long paragraphs on them, then the audience will take several minutes reading the information and not hearing what you're saying during that time.

Counter this problem by using a smaller number of slides – no more than 1 slide per minute of talking, and no more than 25-30 slides in total – and by streamlining each slide as much as possible. If you've spent a lot of time in academia, you've probably become very used to presentations with hundreds of bland, text-heavy slides that distract from the presenter rather than supporting them. But just because this is common, doesn't mean it's the right way to present! Remember, the audience is supposed to absorb information from your talk, not from reading hundreds of slides. Your slides should be minimal, with no more than a few bullet points or keywords on each slide.

A slide doesn't need to fit all of your information on it, as you can give all the relevant details in your talk. The slide should be merely a guideline for what you are discussing. A good slide might have just three keywords on it, which you will discuss in detail. By getting rid of extraneous information, you make it easier for your audience to follow your talk and engage with your points.

Try to cut down your slides as much as you possibly can. Also, try to use illustrations, graphics, or graphs wherever possible to convey information in a visual way. If you're worried about forgetting what you were going to say, then use the notes feature which allows you to add notes which are only visible to the presenter to each slide. This way, you can see the information you need but your audience doesn't get distracted by all the extra text.

You could also try something different: instead of the usual PowerPoint or Keynote, you could try an alternative presentation software such as Prezi, or even consider getting rid of slides altogether if you are a very confident speaker.

Make your presentation more personable

Here's something that many presenters forget: it's okay for your presentation to be a bit personal. You can smile, crack a joke, or refer to examples from your real life to convey your point. Of course, you want to remain professional and not to be too silly or inappropriate. But you needn't be robotic or totally flat. In fact, it's much harder for an audience to engage with a presenter who speaks in a monotone and never injects a moment of levity into their speech.

To get better at this, try to remember to look at your audience when presenting. It can help to have a supportive friend or colleague in the audience who you can look to when you need someone to smile at. Also, feel free to emphasise your points by using hand gestures or by pointing to important information. You needn't stand with your hands pinned to your sides through the whole talk. You can rest your hands on the podium if you have one, or walk back and forth across the stage if you're using a microphone attached to your clothing. You can also emphasise findings that you personally found to be especially interesting, or talk about a finding which took you by surprise. This personal touch will make your presentation more distinctive to you and therefore more memorable.

Pitch your voice at the appropriate volume and speed

This one might sound silly – does it really matter how you speak in a presentation, as long as your materials are good? In fact, yes it does. If your voice is too quiet, your audience will have to strain to hear you, which is tiring for them and makes them much more likely to switch off. Conversely, if your voice is too loud it can be almost painful to listen to. Try to pay attention to the volume of your voice, and remember that most people tend to be too quiet, so you should lean towards speaking a little louder.

Similarly, many people don't realise how fast they speak, especially if they are a bit nervous. Speaking too fast causes several problems: firstly, people will not be able to hear each sentence and might get lost, and secondly, they won't have time to think about your point and consider it before you've moved onto the next point. Conversely, as we all remember from school, there's nothing more boring than having to listen to someone with a slow, droning voice. If in doubt, try giving a practice presentation to friends or colleagues and ask them for feedback.

Feel free to move around

You needn't force yourself to stand stock still while presenting. In fact, it will make your presentation more engaging if you use the same facial expressions and gestures that you would if you were talking to a friend. While it's not a good idea to bounce around and move very fast, as this can be distracting, it is fine to walk around a little, to use your hands to indicate as well as or instead of a laser pointer, or to use your hands to emphasise particular points. Try to use movements that feel natural to you instead of standing totally still, as this will make your talk more dynamic and personal.

Above all, try to relax, and this will help your presentation to be smoother and more natural, which will be appreciated by your audience. And on that subject...

Conference Monkey Directory

How to deal with nerves when making a presentation

Make sure you're prepared in advance.

The very best way to keep your nerves under control is to have practised your entire presentation from beginning to end beforehand, at least once. A few days before your presentation, recruit a friend or two to sit with you and be your audience. You can practise in an empty lecture hall or classroom if one is available and if that will help you to feel more comfortable. But it's also fine to practise at your house, or even in a cafe or bar if you bring a laptop with you. Run through your whole presentation, including slides, and take note of any areas where you struggled to find the right words or weren't sure what topic to speak on next. That way, you can know which specific topics or slide you need to remind yourself of.

However, it's important not to over-rehearse. You don't need to have your entire presentation memorised, and in fact doing so will only make your presenting style appear stilted and unnatural. You should be familiar with the material you're presenting (and if your presentation is about your research, you are likely to already be as familiar with the material as you need to be), and be able to anticipate some questions or criticisms that your audience might have. But remember that you are already an expert in this area – hence why you're presenting on it at a conference. There's no need to attempt to cram lots of extra information into your brain the day before a presentation; rather, let the knowledge that you already have guide you in how you present.

Make sure the IT equipment works beforehand

One issue that is almost bound to arise when you present, and can be very stressful, is problems with the computer, projector, or slides which you have prepared. Between different file formats, different laptop adaptors, and the difficulty in getting video or sound effects to work correctly in your presentation space, there is a lot that can go wrong.

The best way to deal with this is to make sure you've tested out all of the equipment earlier in the day before your presentation. Don't wait until 10 minutes before you begin in order to test! If there are problems, you need to know earlier so that you can find the correct adaptor, get help from  IT support , and so on. If you're presenting in the afternoon, find a time in the morning at which you can test. If you're presenting in the morning, arrive very early, or consider testing the day before. That way you won't have any last-minute technical problems to deal with.

Tips for dealing with nerves while you're speaking

It's common to feel flustered, hyper-vigilant, or a bit overwhelmed when you start to present. The best solution for this is to give yourself the opportunity to take a few seconds to get yourself together. A good way of achieving this is to have a bottle of water in front of you – if you feel yourself getting overwhelmed, stop talking and have a drink of water and take a deep breath before you continue. It might feel to you as if you are standing in front of everyone and doing nothing for ages, but don't worry, it's only a few seconds and won't feel that long to the audience.

Another common problem is feeling like you don't know where to put your hands, or what to do with your body. If there is a lectern or podium in front of you, then make use of it – rest your hands on either side and grip it gently, which will help to make you feel grounded. If there's no lectern, then a good tip is to gently squeeze together your thumb and index finger while you're speaking; this pressure will help as an outlet for your nervousness which your audience won't notice.

Finally, one great way to reassure yourself during a presentation is to find a friendly face in the audience who you can can look to when you're feeling unsure. If possible, ask a friend or colleague to come along, and catch their eye when you need to. Otherwise, pick an audience member who seems open and friendly and look at them – the point is to think of your audience as a collection of friendly people, rather than as a singular scary judging entity.

When you can keep your nerves under control, your presentation will be more fun for you and more engaging for your audience.

Answering questions after a conference presentation

Even when you've spent a lot of time preparing your conference presentation and trying new presentation tools, there is one aspect of presenting that intimidates many people: answering questions during or after the presentation. At its best, a question and answer session can give you valuable new ideas about your research and help you to anticipate what kind of reviewers' comments you might receive when you publish your work. At worst, a question session can feel like a whole room full of people aggressively criticising your work and pointing out its flaws.

There are, of course, a few things you can do to make audience participation run a little more smoothly.

Keep the discussion to the end of the presentation

Depending on the type of presentation you are giving, generally you should expect questions to come at the end after you have finished presenting. If you are presenting in a workshop or in a teaching session, then there may be clarifying questions asked during your talk too. If someone asks a quick question during your presentation – such as asking you to explain an acronym or to define a term – then you should pause to answer them. But if someone starts to ask a more conceptual or complex question, it's fine to tell the audience to save their questions until the end.

Be prepared

The best way that you can feel more comfortable when fielding questions is to be prepared in advance. While you can't know exactly what will be asked at any given presentation, you can make some educated guesses about the kind of topics that are likely to come up. If there is a point in your presentation that you know is unclear – for example, if you used a highly complex experimental methodology or statistical analysis and you didn't have time to explain it fully during the presentation – then it's likely that someone will ask about this. Also, you can expect typical questions about what your plans are for the next stage in our research, or about how you interpreted your results.

Knowing the topics that are likely to be asked about, you can prepared yourself in advance. One great tip is to prepare extra slides with more information about your methodology or with more data to illustrate your points. When someone asks about an issue that you didn't have time to cover, you can bring up the relevant extra slide and talk them through it. You should also think of a couple of key points that you would use to answer questions about your next project or about the interpretation of your results.

Ignore the rambling and focus on the question

Often times, when people ask questions they may ramble somewhat before getting to the point. Asking questions can be intimidating for the questioner too, so sometimes this comes simply from nervousness. At other times, professors who are used to holding a floor may talk for some time as a preamble to the question. Hopefully, you have a moderator who will encourage the questioners to keep their comments brief.

But if you are confronted with a rambler, then don't panic. You don't need to respond to every single one of their points. Instead, try to sum up the essential gist of their comments and respond briefly to the topic as a whole. You can even clarify their question before responding, by saying “If I'm hearing you right, what you are asking is...” If the questioner has brought up a lot of different topics, then simply pick the one topic that is most relevant to your presentation and respond to that.

It's okay to say that you don't know

Something that often makes presenters nervous, especially if they are new to presenting, is the idea that someone might ask a question which you are unable to answer. Someone could ask for a particular factual piece of information that you don't have, or they could ask you about a specific paper which you have not heard of or have not read. If this happens, you needn't berate yourself or try to make up an answer off the cuff. It is perfectly okay to say that you don't know the answer to that question but you will look it up, or that you haven't seen the paper in question but that you will read it afterwards. You can also offer to discuss the topic further with the questioner after the session is finished.

Don't be concerned that this will make you look incompetent. In fact, being honest about the limitations of your knowledge is one of the marks of a honest and knowledgable researcher and your audience will respect you for it.

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11 Tips for presenting at a conference

how to make conference presentation

How to deliver an effective conference presentation (and beat those presenting nerves).

Presenting at a conference is a core part of scientific communication for any researcher or academic. Finding the right conference with the right audience and successfully communicating your latest findings is a great way to enhance your career prospects and, in turn, learn about the newest developments in your research field.

Before we jump in, an important note on fake conferences. There has been a growth in the number of predatory conferences in recent years, so before you register to attend and present your work at any conference, familiarise yourself with ways to tell a predatory conference from a legitimate one .    

Developing a conference presentation is no different to developing any other presentation – you need to be well prepared, consistent throughout and ensure you’re able to resonate with your audience.

One of the biggest challenges in giving a good presentation is managing your nerves. Even the most experienced and respected speakers and performers get a bundle of nerves before they start, so you’re in good company. The good news is that the techniques of an effective presenter can be practised. So how can this be accomplished? Here are 11 tips that will help you give an effective conference presentation.

1. Don’t touch that slide deck just yet

The first thing you need to know about creating an effective conference presentation is not to dive head first into your slides.

It’s hard to beat the feeling of getting an email letting you know that the proposal you worked tirelessly on for a conference has been accepted. Finding out that your work has been well received by a committee can mean a huge amount, especially when you’re driven by your passion for it, like the majority of researchers out there.

So it’s super easy to just start adding slide after slide to your presentation. When I first presented at a conference, I ended up with 40 slides for a 15-minute presentation. I was lucky enough to be working with some more experienced researchers that reeled in my confusing and inconsistent slides.

I started again and made a clear outline first. I simply sketched it out, slide by slide and got back into a flow,  but this time it was in a much more controlled manner. Take your time and make a strong outline to keep you on track. Use this checklist to keep you on the right road.

2. Build your presentation within time constraints

Ensuring your timing is right is so important when presenting at a conference. If you have ten minutes to present, prepare ten minutes of material . No more. If you don’t practice your timing, you may not get a chance to highlight your findings and recommendations – the most important part.

In my experience conference organisers are usually quite clear about how much time you have allocated. The best presenters know exactly how much time they have to work with, then they tailor their presentation to fit the time and keep an eye on the time throughout.

And if you are running out of time, stop. Jump past a couple of slides if you need to make one last point.

3. Use visuals to illuminate, not obscure

Images are key elements to any presentation. Whether it’s a pie chart to show percentages, or a strong image to convey a point, visuals can be much more effective than words. They help reinforce or complement the ideas or points you’re trying to get across. Your audience may be able to understand your message a little easier when it’s presented with visuals that relate to it.

But remember to keep your visuals clean and simple. Some of the worst conference presentations I’ve seen are ones with complex imagery that forces the audience to try and figure out how the image and the speaker’s point are related.

4. Aim for simplicity and consistency

Don’t be afraid of using some text and bullet points if you need to make a point that isn’t easy to communicate visually, or if you’re discussing steps or sequences.

But use them to communicate your point to the audience, not as a prompt for what you want to say. That’s what your speaker notes are for. You want your audience to listen to you instead of reading from your slides, so less is more in terms of the text on the slides.

Inconsistency in slides is a subtle thing but can take away from a presentation very easily. While slides with different colours may look nice, they may be distracting to your audience. Use a consistent template with the same fonts to make it easier for your audience to follow along.  And remember, your audience will view your conference presentation from a distance, so use large clear fonts and as few words as possible in your slides.

5. Know your research audience

One of the most common mistakes I have seen being made by conference presenters is presenting a roomful of people with information they already have . A great way to make this mistake is spending the majority of your presentation going over the existing literature and giving background information on your work.

Just like when you’re in the audience at a conference, researchers are there to learn about your new and exciting research, not to hear a summary of old work. The worst speakers assume that the audience doesn’t know anything and need educating.

Before you begin speaking to a group, find out what they already know and where they are up to with your topic. It’s not easy to get details on all delegates but you will know the plenary sessions and whoever you have networked with before this. Most conferences use mobile apps now, and these are a great way to get an insight to exactly who is attending the conference and what their speciality topics are from the programme.

This can give you a good idea of how much background you need to give so that your key presentation points will make sense. A good rule of thumb is that if you’re giving a 15-minute presentation, by the 6th minute you should be discussing your data or case study.

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6. Rehearse your presentation

I shouldn’t even need to include this on the list, but so many people fail to do enough of this. Rehearsing is crucial to making you feel comfortable with every word you are going to say. Rehearse your paper aloud in private and in front of a friend. This can feel a bit embarrassing, but reading it through in your head never corresponds to the time it takes to read it aloud in public. The more times you say the words aloud, the more you will be familiar with it. And if you are familiar with what you’re saying, your confidence in your conference presentation will increase.

When I’m practising for a conference presenting slot, I rehearse out loud in my bedroom. It feels strange but it works. If you’re feeling self-conscious about this (or don’t want your housemates to overhear) you could play some music at the same time.

Another strategy that works well is recording yourself . This lets you see where you’re doing well and where you need to improve. And if being recorded makes you feel under pressure, this helps mimic the actual feelings you’ll have while presenting in front of a real live audience. So you’ll get a good idea for how you will perform on the day.

After I’ve recorded myself, I usually ask a friend or colleague to listen and be critical of my efforts. Getting grilled beforehand really helps ease any presenting nerves or anxiety you will get if you’re unlucky enough to get grilled after your presentation.

7. Prepare, prepare, prepare

Preparation for anything is key, especially for conference presentations.  You’ve prepared enough to find the right conference , and to submit a proposal worthy of acceptance, now you need to prepare to present it.  

Know your slides inside out. You should use them as a guide for your presentation, not an autocue.

Think about your clothing. Wear something that makes you feel comfortable when facing your audience. If you’re not sure what clothes are appropriate, check the dress code with the organisers or with colleagues.

Conference session rooms can get stuffy, so if you’re someone who sweats when they’re nervous, choose clothing that won’t show it. And don’t wear something that’s awkward and restrictive, even if you think it will project a confident image. If you’re not comfortable, you won’t look or feel confident.

Try to get a good night’s sleep before your presentation; everything looks better and more manageable when you’re well rested.

8. Back up your backup

A good way to think about your presentation technology requirements is this: any tech you want to use can and will fail. It’s not beyond the realms of possibility for your memory card or flash drive not to work when the big moment comes. Or for your laptop to decide to reboot. Or for the conference’s presentation facilities to fail.

Arm yourself with a back-up plan so you aren’t left stranded if things go awry. As well as following the conference instructions to submit your presentation online or at their drop-off desk, copy your slides to an online deck service and upload a copy of your presentation to Dropbox . Then email yourself any links you need so they’re within arms reach if you need them. Take no chances.

And if you have any specific audio-visual requirements, make them known to the conference organiser well in advance. If they don’t ask, tell them anyway. Never assume that they’ll just know . Not all conference venues can accommodate the latest technology.

9. Get to know the presenting space

One thing presenters often forget to do before starting a presentation is sussing out the room they’ll be speaking in. If you get the opportunity, get down to the room where you’ll be presenting ahead of time and check it out. This will save you from the last-minute panic of running across an unfamiliar campus, trying to find the room you’re supposed to be in.

Most rooms will be kitted out with everything you need to present, but there’s no harm in making sure all the equipment you need is there and works. Take no risks and you’ll eliminate nasty last-minute surprises.

Get comfortable with the presentation area, walk around it until you feel familiar with the environment in the room. This will save you the shock of unexpectedly being faced with a large/tiny room. Bring your set of notes with you, and make sure you can read them in the lighting conditions in the room. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need – if there are open windows that are bothering you, ask for them to be closed.

10. Use body language to your advantage

Body language has an important role in presentations, especially at academic conferences. There are usually a lot of facts and findings to be highlighted in a conference presentation, and you need to use all the presenting tools available to you to remain interesting and effective throughout. Your gestures, tone of voice and positivity can be seen through your body language and may determine how engaged your audience is.

When you’re speaking, a few body language tips can help improve your rapport with your audience. For your audience to engage, it’s important that they can see you and that you look at them and make eye contact. Try to spread your gaze, rather than staring at one person. And avoid focusing intently on your laptop screen, your notes, or the floor. This can give the impression that you’re nervous or uninterested, and can also prevent you from projecting your voice clearly.

If possible, don’t stand behind a lectern or hold any notes. Instead, keep a straight, relaxed, open posture, and feel free to be comfortable with the full stage and move around the stage a little as you speak.

The great presenters use gestures to emphasise their points and to highlight their visual material to guide the audience’s attention. When you see a speaker rooted rigidly to the spot and without positive body language the presentation loses a lot of its emphasis. Avoid other distracting movements, such as repeatedly putting your hands in and out of your pockets, jingling coins in your pocket, or fiddling with pens, clothing, or props such as laser pointers.

11. Encourage questions and discussion

If you manage your time well, you’ll have sufficient time left for questions and an open discussion after your conference presentation. Expect questions, but don’t worry if there aren’t any. If your audience is reluctant to ask questions, a good session chair will usually pose a question. Presentation questions are a good thing . They give you a chance to elaborate on something that wasn’t clear or address the topic that everyone wants to know but you forgot to include.

Answering questions can be nerve-wracking because of the fear that you might not be able to answer them. But when the audience is asking questions, it’s generally out of genuine interest, not to trip you up, so see it as a good opportunity to explore how you can expand your work.

Though the majority of questions in a conference Q&A session are fairly benign, like me, you could find yourself at the end of a grilling (perhaps from someone who’s research you’ve had the temerity to challenge) after you present at a conference. If you think this might happen to you, it’s worth doing some reading on how to respond to destructive criticism from peers.

And if you’re feeling nervous about facing tough questions, here’s something that might help: if you’re attending with someone you know (and trust), ask them to ask you a question. Some people even like to agree in advance what the question will be. This can simply help get the ball rolling and boost your confidence.

And finally, a trick I learnt from an experienced researcher is to keep a notebook and pen handy and to make notes of the good questions to reflect on later.

Presenting skills are for life

Once you’ve mastered the tips above, you’ll be all set to give a great conference presentation. And the more you do, the easier they’ll get. Until you’ll reach a point when you can’t remember how nervous they used to make you.

One final note on audience size: never take it personally. Some of the best papers out there were presented to small audiences. Nobody ever asks how many people were in the audience, and you don’t have to state it on your academic CV. No matter what size the audience, a great presentation is a great presentation.

Brian Campbell

Brian is a data-driven marketeer, and responsible for helping people find Ex Ordo. He works part-time as a lecturer at the National University of Ireland, Galway, and loves quizzing his students on the latest business trends and insights. Brian enjoys hanging out with his little nephews, and playing and watching sports. He also likes to keep a keen eye on the scholarly research space, and has co-organised an academic conference to boot.

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Tress Academic

how to make conference presentation

#26: First conference presentation? 17 life-saving tips

October 8, 2019 by Tress Academic

Is it the first time you are presenting at a scientific conference? First time you’re traveling to an academic meeting, probably abroad, and talking about your research in front of a crowd of people you don’t know? Feeling a bit scared and intimidated? Did you get nervous when you looked in the calendar and realised it’s only six weeks away? Feel like you don’t know how you’re going to deal with the pressure? Don’t worry, you are not alone on the academic ocean! Let this post will be your life jacket and we’ll make sure you are prepared for the big day. 

In our experience, we didn’t have a choice about giving our first conference presentation. Our supervisors approached us during our PhD studies and suggested we should go to this particular conference and present what we are doing. Huh? We had never done this before, although we had attended a few conferences already where we presented posters. Giving a poster presentation is the classical way of how young researchers get acquainted with conferences (for suggestions on how to do this properly, check our blog post #15: 5 smart strategies to get most out of conference posters” ). 

However, going on a conference and presenting a paper is another story all together! Of course, we had attended sessions where others had presented their work, but this is like taking a comfortable backseat compared to the driver. You lean back in the massive audience and enjoy what the presenter is telling you. Attending is a pretty anonymous thing, plus we didn’t have to do anything. Not so when you are the presenter! Then you have to stand out there in front of all these famous, well-respected and highly-experienced scientists, who know so much more than you do, and are much better at doing research and presenting. This is almost guaranteed to be embarrassing! What if they laugh at our talks and rip them into pieces when they ask questions? 

Do these fears sound familiar to you when you think about your first research presentation at an academic conference? We know they do, so let’s give you two reasons why you should not worry too much about this first presentation: 

  • Established researchers will not sit in your audience and laugh at your presentation, because this is not how academic conferences work. This is also not how professional researchers conduct themselves. Good scholars, and our academic communities are full of them, are kind and gracious listeners to presentations made by junior faculty. They (hopefully) all remember their first presentations very well and the feelings that come with them. It was never an easy or comfortable task to present as a beginner in front of strangers. 
  • Of course, you might still be afraid that not everybody listening to you will fall into the respectful audience category we just described above. Don’t worry, in this case we’ve got you covered with our 17 life-saving tips!

By the way, both of our first presentations went very well. They were probably not spectacular, but they left us with no negative memories and as far as we can recall, no negative impression on the audience. We had no instructions on how to do these talks at all. We were literally sent off to deliver the talks blind, like good academic soldiers marching into battle. You deserve better! 

Person jumps with life jacket into the sea

We’ve prepared a list of 17 life-saving tips we want you to keep in mind when preparing and presenting for the first time. Caution: This list of actions will NOT immediately lift you up to the pro level. It is not a crash course in delivering the best presentation you could ever do with all the possible bells and whistles . No, we intend it to get you safely and comfortably through the ‘stormy waters’ of this first-time-experience so that you, as well your audience, will enjoy it. There are plenty of measures you can take to improve your talk on top of this, but let’s take it one step at a time. If you are totally new to your PhD project, we recently published a post to help you tackle this larger project with: “#24: New to the PhD – 5 tips for a great start!” .

Nevertheless, try out some of our 17 life-saving tips and you will be well-equipped for the rough winds that sometimes come up in academia: 

Life-saver #1: Know what your message is

The best presenter and presentation techniques cannot help if the message is not clear. What is it exactly that you want to communicate in your talk? Start preparing by writing down the key message that you want to communicate on a sheet of paper. It should be a message that is easily understood and that you could easily talk about on any occasion.  

Life-saver #2: Guide audience through structure

Take your presentation message, sit down, and think about the order of elements someone would need to describe to the audience for them to understand it. Typically, you start with a short intro about yourself, the topic and the specific research question that you addressed. Then, you follow with what you did and what you have found. Towards the end, you state your key message that you want the audience to remember. Probably, you also want to point out some of the open questions that resulted from your work. Make sure you have a clear beginning and a clear ending. 

Life-saver #3: Don’t start on the computer

Start drafting the key message, the structure, and the details of your talk on a sheet of paper, or better yet, with a set of sticky notes. This is far more flexible and effective than starting on Powerpoint or similar software and filling in slides right away. You will put to much (irrelevant) content and effort into the slides. Get involved with slide ware only once you know exactly what will be part of your presentation, not before. The art of slide making is not to fill them quickly but to leave things out and reduce to what is absolutely essential. 

Life-saver #4: Reduce and enlarge text

It is not helpful to present a lot of text on slides. Reduce it to a minimum, i.e. a few keywords on slides and learn the rest by heart so you can present it fluently. Put the text in a large font size, usually much larger than you think necessary. If you end up with slides that contain only a few words in large text size – nobody will be unhappy, because it is easier to follow. 

Life-saver #5: Communicate visually

A lot of communication in science is in written form, but presentations have the benefit of adding visual aids. So, once you know what your key message is, can you come up with a set of 3-5 key images (photos, figures, graphs) that would help you to get the message across even better? There is nothing non-scientific about using images in a talk, because they help to convey your scientific message better and are more memorable than text. If you are not sure where to find good visuals, check out our blog posts #19: The 5 best free photo databases for your scientific presentations or #20: Best scientific photo databases” .

Life-saver #6: Rehearse your presentation

Rehearsing is all about reducing many of the fears that we have towards giving a talk. We recommend you rehearse multiple rounds, and do read throughs at least 10+ times for your talk. You will become more fluent and confident in what you present once you know it backwards and forwards. For tips on how to rehearse effectively, see our post #127: How to rehearse a scientific presentation.

Life-saver #7: Check the length of your presentation

Going over time is a common occurrence at conferences, but also a commonly condemned behaviour. Use a watch to check how long your presentation is. Start checking your time once you have some fluency in your delivery, so only after a couple of rehearsal rounds. If your talk is too long, cut something out. Only you will miss it. 

how to make conference presentation

Life-saver #8: Get somebody to listen to you

All the rehearsal in the world cannot help if you do not rehearse realistically, i.e. in front of other people. Find a colleague, a couple of PhD fellows, or some friends and deliver your test presentation to them. It will make you feel differently and this can really help you trouble-shoot the talk. Ask them for honest feedback and their suggestions afterwards. Since you’re presenting to other people at the conference, why not try it in the preparation phase? 

Life-saver #9: Rehearse outside your comfort zone

If possible, try to also rehearse your talk in a room or a space which is different from where you usually are at your institute. It could be an empty classroom or lecture hall. This will already give you a feeling of how different it is to present in a room you are not familiar with in the preparation phase, which will be the case for your conference talk. 

Life-saver #10: Anticipate questions from the audience

Many presenters fear the question that come from the audience after their talk more than the presentation itself. Prepare yourself: What potential questions could  the audience ask? Think about good but short answers to them while still preparing your talk. We prepared a great overview of questions that you should always expect and have an answer in our post #30: Questions from the audience you should be prepared to answer.

Life-saver #11: Keep technology simple

Unless you are a well-versed user of presentation technology and gadgets, keep it simple for your first talk. Of course, there is a multitude of multi-media elements that you could employ, but the audience comes to hear something about your research and if you can do this without a heavy tech component, you take a heavy load off your shoulders. There’s nothing worse than a technological fail in front of a room of people you want to impress.

Life-saver #12: Prepare a backup strategy

Think about the what-ifs: If … your presentation does not work on the presenter laptop or if you realise you would need more time than allocated or if … whatever. Always have a digital and a paper copy of your presentation with you. The paper version could be annotated with coloured markers so you could use it if the technology fails. Rest assured: The vast majority of ifs very seldom happen, but it’s always better to be prepared!

Life-saver #13: Be at the venue in good time

You don’t want to rush in just before giving your talk, this would only increase your nervousness. If you have to travel to the conference, always arrive one day before the conference starts (or at least before your talk is on) at the venue. On the day of your talk, be at the venue in good time prior to your scheduled talk. You might have to deliver earlier because a talk that was supposed to come before yours was cancelled.  

Life-saver #14: Check the room & equipment

Conference rooms and halls have a special atmosphere that can rub off on presenters. Checking out the exact room where you have to present will help you to get accustomed to the special set up of the room: How is the audience seated? Where is the presenter desk? How large is the room? … All these things impact you during your talk. Check it out the day before or at least an hour before your talk, and it will help you to cope with any of its particularities. Also, don’t forget to test your presentation file in the room – whether from your own or from a presenter laptop. Does your presentation display well? 

Life-saver #15: Address the audience

At the beginning of your talk, welcome the audience and tell them how grateful you are they are all here to listen to you. Introduce yourself very briefly, unless a chair person has done so already (if so, thank the chair for the nice introduction). Address the audience again at the end of your talk and offer to answer questions. 

Life-saver #16: Have a buddy in the audience

Being entirely on your own for your first conference talk can be difficult. Are you the only one from your institute or are there others? If possible, find a buddy to share the experience with, somebody who feels for you and supports you. Get this person into the audience, somewhere where you can see him or her. It will help a lot! 

Life-saver #17: Get rid of the sticking point

Think about how you feel when you listen to presentations of other people. Is there one thing that comes to your mind where you say, this is what I would avoid doing at all costs? What is it? Write it down. Now, think about your own talk. How could you avoid this from cropping up? Implement the change and be happy that you removed the key problem that you have identified in other talks.

how to make conference presentation

Your first presentation is a special thing! It is like going on your first long journey, or going abroad, all on your own, with just enough money to make it, and with many doubts and fears about what could happen, but also with many great expectations of how wonderful this trip could be! Like a first journey, a first presentation should be something to celebrate (or at least close to that), something you would like to, and most likely will do, again and again. 

The first presentation is a unique experience. It’s a right of passage that all researchers go through at some stage. Whether it’s your own motivation that brings you to a conference presentation, or a supervisor encourages you to go for it, it’s a great thing to do. For the first time, you”ll actively interact with your academic peers from all over the country or even world! You speak and they will listen- wow! 

Nerves play a vital role in this process, as we know. But if you think they are getting the best of you, check our post #3: “How to cope with stage fright?” , which will gives more advice on how to prepare yourself against unproductive anxiety. When you manage to follow the steps we’ve outlined above, you can rest assured, it will be a fine presentation. We wish we could have had such a life-saving list back then! 

Relevant resources:  

  • Smart Academics Blog #3: How to cope with stage fright?
  • Smart Academics Blogt #7: Why your next presentation matters
  • Smart Academics Blog #11: How much time is needed to prepare a good presentation?
  • Smart Academics Blog #15: 5 smart strategies to get most out of conference posters  
  • Smart Academics Blog #19: The 5 best free photo databases for your scientific presentation
  • Smart Academics Blog #20: Best scientific photo databases
  • Smart Academics Blog #24: New to the PhD – 5 tips for a great start!
  • Smart Academics Blog #30: Questions from the audience you should be prepared to answer
  • Smart Academics Blog #95: Apply these 5 tips to improve any presentation
  • Smart Academics Blog #127: How to rehearse a scientific presentation.

Relevant courses and services:

  • 1-day course: Presenting successfully at virtual conferences
  • 3-day course: How to present at international conferences
  • 1-to-1 advice: Presentation Check

More information:  

Do you want to present successfully at conferences? If so, please sign up to receive our free guides.  

Photos by Jonas Kohl, Ian Wagg and Jared Berg on Unsplash.com .

© 2019 Tress Academic

#FirstPresentation, #FirstConference, #ScientificPresentation, #ScientificConference

Presentation Geeks

11 Tips To Make Your Conference Presentation Outstanding

Table of contents.

The world of conferences are great opportunities for like-minded individuals to come together and share their common denominator interest with one another.

Conferences provide attendees with an opportunity to learn and share with others who share similar experiences or interests all under one roof. Conferences are usually large in nature bringing people from across the country, or even across the world, together.

If you find yourself presenting at an upcoming conference, the honest truth is the stakes are high. Oftentimes, conferences have a lot of people in attendance. When you have your moment to shine to share your presentation with a large crowd of audience members, you want it to go flawlessly.

Truthfully, so do we.

That’s why we’ve put together this in-depth blog post to help you navigate the world of conferences and how to master your conference presentation with 11 actionable tips.

Are You Presenting At An Upcoming Conference? We Should Talk

What are conference presentations.

First, let’s get an understanding of what a conference presentation is.

A conference presentation is an opportunity for people to communicate with a large audience of like-minded individuals typically congregating around a common interest or topic.

A conference can vary in length from a one, full day event, all the way up to a week-long program. Conferences are usually a great opportunity for these like-minded individuals to network and learn from one another on new topics, research or major events.

Now that we know what a conference is, there are several common types of conferences you might encounter during your professional career.

Let’s take a look at the common types of conferences below.

Common Types Of Conferences

Although these are some of the common types of conferences you’ll encounter, this isn’t a fully finalized list. There are more types of conferences than simply what’s mentioned below.

However, you’re more than likely to encounter one of the following whether you’re just entering the industry, a student who’s networking or even if you’re passionate on a certain topic and like to be involved in the community.

Academic Conferences

Academic scholars attending an academic conference presentation related to science

Academic conferences are opportunities for researchers to present their work with fellow peers and colleagues. They’re important because they provide an opportunity for academics from multiple institutions to connect at a single location and network.

Academic conferences can be divided further into professional conferences . Professional academic conferences are geared more towards professors and academics who have spent more time in their field of study such as social sciences or medicine.

On the other hand, undergraduate programs may still hold conferences for academia but these are more geared towards undergraduate students who might just be sharing their semester research presentation.

You might be thinking to yourself, “This just sounds like a research presentation .”

Although you’re not wrong, you’re only partly right.

Research presentations are only one part of the overall academic conference. An academic conference is a combination of multiple research presentations combined into one event. You might have multiple academics speaking at a conference sharing their research presentations, but one does not equal the other.

Annual General Meetings

Shareholders attending an annual general meeting presentation.

Shifting gears to the more business side of things, another form of conferences are annual general meetings.

Annual general meetings, or AGM for short, are typically mandatory, yearly gatherings of a company’s interested shareholders which might consist of investors and employees.

At an AGM, directors of a company share with the shareholders the annual report which covers key topics of interest to the shareholders. These key points might include the company’s financial performance, quarterly reports, upcoming yearly vision, plans for expansion, the company’s performance and strategy.

Shareholders who have voting rights often vote on current issues facing the company and which direction the company should pursue. Some of these decisions might include who is to be appointed onto the board of directors, what executive compensation will be, dividend payments and the selection of auditors.


Overhead image of a large crowd of people walking throughout a convention center floor.

Like most conferences, conventions are large meetings consisting of people with a share ideology or profession. You often hear of conventions in terms of entertainment or politics.

On the entertainment side of things, conventions are gatherings where people of the same interest come together to network and immerse themselves in the unifying experience of enjoying the same things as those around you. Some notable conventions you might’ve heard of are Comic Con, Fan Expo and the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Here, you’ll find people sharing a mutual enjoyment of entertainment indulgences.

Political conventions or Party Conferences are the other form of conventions you’ll often hear about.

These are often held by the respective political party where members of said political party come together to network and most importantly, vote on a party leader or delegate.

Press Conferences

press release round table with moderators and key spokespeople.

The smallest form of a conference you’ll encounter is a press conference.

A press conference is an organized event to officially distribute information from a specified spokesperson. Unlike other public relation tactics such as a press release which is still a tool to disseminate information to the public, a press conference is an alternate public relation tactic where media is selectively invited to attend the event to get the information.

Press conferences are often smaller in size due to the shrinking landscape of media outlets. Additionally, press conferences are usually high-stake events usually having highly notable individuals in attendance or presenting. To limit the risk and maximize the safety of these VIPs, press conferences are usually more exclusive.

This is why press conferences are often reserved for bigger news stories and why journalists who are new to the industry try very hard to get on the good side of these conference organizers. Due to the sheer exclusivity of the event, the opportunity to get a unique news story is greater.

Product Launches

Product launch gala in a dark room

The last conference we’ll go over is a product launch.

A product launch, much like a press conference, is another great public relations tactic used to build anticipation and gain the buy-in of the public. They are a coordinated effort to demonstrate new products soon to be released to the general public.

Famous product launches can be seen executed by the world’s top companies such as Apple, Tesla and Disney.

These companies often use product launches to garner attention for an upcoming line of products that will soon be available to the public. The main goal of product launches in recent years is to drive pre-order sales which help raise capital to bring the product development over the finish line without needing to expend any further owned-capital of the company.

Conference Presentation Tips

No matter the conference you find yourself attending and more than likely presenting at, conference presentation tips remain the same. You can apply the following 11 important points to any conference.

With some slight adjustments to each, you’ll soon be a master of conference talk, being able to command any large room of people and retain the audience’s attention with ease.

1 - Do Your Homework

Before you begin putting together your conference presentation slide deck, you need to first do your homework. With any good finalized product, it got that way thanks to the preparation which went into it ahead of time and your presentation is no exception.

What you might want to consider doing before you begin putting together your slide deck is answering the following questions and drafting an outline.

What key message do you want the audience to take away after the presentation?

What do you want them to feel?

How do you want them to act?

Can I achieve these results with the information I already have?

By asking yourself these questions and acting appropriately based on the answer, you’ll be setting yourself up for a good presentation.

2 - Understand Your Audience

Knowing your audience isn’t just about who they are, it’s about understanding what they’re interested in, how they retain information and what motivates them.

Understanding your audience is the first step of mastering presentation psychology and without it, you won’t have a strong foundation for your presentation. You could have the most visually appealing presentation but if it doesn’t resonate with the audience, it won’t matter.

So before you go ahead and start building a presentation based on what you think your audience is interested in, you should really come to a solidified conclusion and know what your audience is interested in.

3 - Know Your Timing

Presentations range in different lengths. You’ll encounter presentations as short as one minute to others that last over an hour. Start preparing your presentation by knowing what your time limit is.

You can typically find this information out by contacting an organizer of the conference.

4 - Use Visual Aids

Visual aids are tools to help you communicate visually.

Some presentation visual aids you might want to consider using are graphs, tables, pictures and videos. If you really want to be seen as an expert presenter, you should even be focusing on the colors you use for your slides.

Now, it might seem like you need a creative degree to master all this, but the reality is you don’t. Luckily, you can outsource your presentation design to a presentation design agency like Presentation Geeks who not only create top-tier presentation slide decks used by Fortune 500 companies, they also can provide presentation consulting services .

Don’t forget, you yourself are a visual communication tool as well. Be sure to dress appropriately for your upcoming conference presentations because you want to make a good impression. Let’s take a political convention as an example. If you’re running as a candidate to be the leader of a major political party, you want to make sure you peak the audience’s interest and gain their trust by dressing appropriately as superficial as that sounds.

5 - Keep It Simple

Don’t overcomplicate your presentation, especially the slide deck.

It’s crucial to keep your presentation, especially the visual aids portion as simple as possible because too much information will confuse the audience and they will likely forget what you’ve said.

Focus on the key details in your slides and use them as supplementary tools. Many presenters will think they need to have a grand conference presentation with fancy technology, transitional devices and other outlandish tactics. The reality is, you want your information to be easily understood by keeping it simple.

6 - Practice, Practice, Practice

The way to become a better presenter is through practice.

You want to ensure you command the room with your confidence. You won’t be doing that if you’re reading from a paper aloud.

You need to ensure you’re confident. Practice your conference presentation multiple times and consider recording yourself as you do. You’ll pick up on your body language and analyze how well you’re using your body language to communicate what you’re saying. Scan the audience and share your eye contact with everyone. Don’t forget to speak clearly and slowly

7 - Prepare For The Worst

Murphy’s Law states that what can go wrong, will go wrong. You should keep this theory in the back of your mind and expect the worst to happen.

Just because the worst can and probably will happen, doesn’t mean there isn’t a solution. That is why you need to prepare for the worst.

You should be able to present all your conference presentations if the venue changes at the last minute, if you don’t have the technology you were expecting to use, if you forgot your handouts like a conference paper. You should be prepared for the worst but have a solution.

8 - Know Your Space

Let’s say your fortunate, which you probably will be, and the venue doesn’t change last minute. That’s great! Use this to your advantage and get familiar with your space.

Ahead of your conference presentations, you should go and scope out the area you will be presenting to get an idea of how you can walk around, what technology will be present, what the lighting will be light, etc.

There are so many areas of concerns and unknowns that can be addressed by doing a little bit of field assignment homework ahead of time.

9 - Go Beyond The Slides - Engage Your Audience

An audience will more likely remember what you have to say and feel connected by being engaged.

You can engage your audience by targeting more senses of the human body. If you only target their auditory and visual senses, you’ll eventually lose them. Walk through the crowd if you can. Have the audience move their necks, stretch and move!

10 - Get The Audience To Participate By Encouraging Questions

Good presenting is one-way communication.

Excellent presenting is two-way communication.

Another way to go beyond the slides and your one-way presentation speech by giving an opportunity for the audience to ask further questions.

This is not only beneficial to the audience to help them get a better understanding of your topic, but it will also help you to answer questions.

It gets you to reflect on your presentation from an angle you might not have thought of before. Out of all the questions audience members will ask, there is usually one or two awe-inspiring questions that get even the presenter to take a moment to reflect.

Use these moments to better your presentation for the future.

11 - Evaluate & Refine

Speaking of making your presentation better for the future, remember to evaluate and refine your presentation and presentation skills.

A true master of any profession or skill knows they truly aren’t a master because learning never stops. You should take the same ideology and apply it to your own presentation skills.

Whether it’s self-reflection or a survey of the audience after your conference presentation, try and evaluate how well you presented and refine your future presentation based on the presentation feedback you received.

The summary of everything mentioned above if applied correctly will result in your being a master of conference presentations. The great thing about these techniques is they can be applied to any type of conference presentation.

Not only that, but if you understand the basic fundamentals of presenting, you can begin exploring other realms of presentations. To really take your presentation skills to the next level, enlisting the help of a presentation design agency such as Presentation Geeks will help you surpass the competition.

Author:  Content Team

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A Graduate Student's Guide to Conference Success

how to make conference presentation

As a graduate student, you will undoubtedly put a ton of time and energy into your research project. Conferences are an exciting opportunity to share your work and gain valuable feedback while building your professional network.

When planning to present your work at a conference there are a few things you should consider. First, think about the type of presentation you would like to give. Conferences often have different presentation formats including posters, oral presentations and lightning talks. Lightning talks are generally short introductions to your work that encourage deeper conversation at a poster session or during a mixer. Poster presentations involve making a visual of your work and explaining it to colleagues who stop by to learn about your project. Oral presentations are generally longer and involve giving a synopsis of what you have done and what you have learned through your project. All formats are fantastic ways to practice communicating your research, but the format you choose will ultimately depend on your comfort with speaking to a large audience or having one-on-one conversations about your work. 

Something else to consider when planning a conference presentation is the venue. You will have opportunities to share your research both on and off campus. If you choose to present your research on campus, you can connect with faculty members and colleagues who are local - making collaborations and follow-up meetings easier to facilitate than at off-campus conferences. Should you choose an off-campus conference, you see new places and expand your network to include experts and colleagues in your field who you would not have met otherwise. However, presenting at off-campus conferences often requires travel and is typically more expensive than participating in on-campus conferences. When you select your conferences, pay close attention to any associated registration and travel fees to make the decision that is best for you and your budget.

While presenting at conferences may be expensive, there are ways to secure the funding you need to communicate the results of your work. Graduate and Professional Student Government has available funding to support graduate student travel to conferences (with more funding available if you are presenting at the conference). To access the GPSG funds, watch for the application period to open and be sure to submit all application materials by the deadline. Additionally, the specific conference may have travel scholarships available, so be sure to check with the organizers to see what kinds of financial aid are available for presenters.

Once you have selected your conference and figured out how to get the funding you need to attend, it is important to prepare to make your best presentation possible. Draft your presentation early and practice, practice, practice! Generally, you will work with your research mentor to fine-tune your presentation before the conference. Additionally, you should give your presentation to friends, family and colleagues to get comfortable speaking about your research. The Graduate & Postdoctoral Writing Center as well as the University Speaking Center can help you to polish your presentation and deliver it confidently.

Once you’re at the conference, remember to relax and take it all in. Conferences are wonderful places to build your professional network, get inspired by other research happening in your field and seek advice on how to improve your work - take full advantage of everything your conference has to offer!

Article Written by Kaitlin Klotz Kaitlin serves as a Graduate Admissions Ambassador and is studying in the  Ph.D in Biological Sciences program from the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences .

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how to make conference presentation

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How to Create a Conference Presentation: 10 Tips to Follow

There are many websites that help both students and professionals to gather information about relevant conferences without putting any extra time and effort. A person can simply subscribe to the right website, and gather information about upcoming conferences through the email alerts or text messages sent by it. These websites have made it easier for modern people to watch as well as give presentations at various conferences. But each participant still need to keep in mind some simple tips to create a presentation that conveys his ideas and convinces the audience effectively.

10 Simple Tips to Make Your Presentation More Effective

1) Determine the Word Count

You have to complete the presentation within the conference presentation slot allocated to you in advance. So you must determine the word count of the presentation before preparing the slides. You must customize the presentation according to the conference presentation slot to avoid skipping any materials due to lack of time. At the same time, you also need to leave time to answers questions from the audience.

2) Concentrate on the Central Theme

To make the presentation more effective, you must focus on its central theme. It is also important to gather information from various sources on the topic, and organize the topic according to their relevance and quality. You need to select the updated and relevant information on the topic, along with skipping the points that are irrelevant. As you have to complete the presentation within a predetermined time frame, it is important to pick data and information according to its central theme.

3) Finalize the Presentation Structure

You can design and structure the presentation in a number of ways. For instance, you can arrange the main points in the presentation in a chronological or topical order, or organize them by categories. Likewise, you can also make the presentation based on cause and effect or problem and solution. So it is important to decide the structure of the presentation before preparing the slides.

4) Divide the Presentation into Small Sections

You cannot write a presentation like conventional articles and blogs. Also, you cannot keep the audience engaged simply by reading a written script. So it is important to divide the whole body of the presentation into a number of small sections. The small sections will make it easier for you to arrange the relevant information in a proper order.

5) Include Questions

You can always keep the audience engaged by asking a number of questions throughout the presentation. It is a good idea to start the presentation by asking a rhetoric question that will make the audience think. Also, the question will make them understand your ideas more clearly. At the same time, you need to ask questions to the audience once in 10 minutes.

6) Don’t Overload the Slides

You can always use graphs and images to make your presentation more appealing. But it is also important to keep the visuals clean and clear. When you put additional words on a slide, its readability is impacted adversely. So you must put minimal words on each slide or visual to make it readable for the audience. Also, you must label the charts appropriately, and try to keep the number of bullets to the minimum.

7) Use Facts, Charts and Statistics

You must explore ways to explain complicated concepts in a simple and easy-to-understand manner to the audience. You can always simplify complex concepts using practical experiences and anecdotes. Likewise, you can make you presentation more appealing by using a variety of facts and statistics related to specific points. However, it is also important to keep the facts or statistics concise, and relate them to a specific point of the presentation.

8) Tell Stories

You cannot keep the audience engaged simply by sharing facts or statistics, or showing appealing images or graphs. You must tell stories to keep the users engaged. It is also important to make the stories more realistic by linking them to your experiences or real-time events. The stories will make it easier for you to convey your ideas more clearly to the audience, along with making your presentation more credible.

9) Make the Conclusion Comprehensive

The conclusion of the presentation will make it memorable for the audience. So you must design the concluding slide of the presentation with something that will make the audience remember and think about your ideas. It is always important to summarize the main points in the presentation, and include the summarized points in the conclusion.

10) Focus on the Final Slide

You can always use the final slide of the presentation as a tool for staying connected with the audience. It is a common practice to include a message in the final slide thanking the audience. At the same time, you can also include your phone number and email id in the slide, and encourage the audience to share their feedback and stay connected with you. You can even consider sharing information about the research materials and speaker notes in the final slide.

In addition to making his presentation more effective, the presenter also needs to focus on the delivery option. He has option to make the presentation based on a written script or memorize the presentation in advance. However, it is always important for the presenter to keep the audience interested and engaged throughout the presentation.


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Undergraduate Research Center | Office of Undergraduate Education

Undergraduate Research Center

Creating a video presentation for a virtual conference, creating a video presentation for a virtual conference.

There are many options and resources when it comes to recording video presentations of your research for the virtual conference. This advice is primarily relevant for research posters, powerpoint slides and oral presentations.  The Undergraduate Research Center recommends utilizing any of the recording applications below to make your videos as these are resources available to all participating students currently. Below are general instructions on how to record a video presentation of your research as well as some tips and tricks to help keep in mind when creating content. 

Preparing To Record

  • Get familiar with the technology. Learn what your audio and visual resources are and how to best operate them. Explore shortcuts and options in software (PowerPoint, Adobe PDF, etc.) being used to show information will also be helpful. Learning about this beforehand will help in case you experience unexpected technical difficulties while recording.
  • Quiet enough to record with minimal interruptions
  • Natural lighting or the ability to control lighting to best record in
  • Have space to set up and record at eye level
  • Be sure to outline your presentation so there is a natural flow as it is delivered. The Undergraduate Research Center recommends video presentations be 5-10 minutes in length for poster presenters and 8-12 minutes for oral session presenters for its conference.  Please check the desired parameters for the virtual conference for which you are preparing.   Having an outline will help maximize the given time.
  • Practice your presentation as if you were doing it at an in-person venue. The confidence gained from preparation also translates on video. It will also increase the professionalism of the presentation and enhance its overall quality. 
  • Dress for success from head to toe! Video presentations have the potential of reaching audiences all over the world, so it is important to dress accordingly. Business casual is recommended, and even if the camera will not necessarily capture a presenter's lower body it really does help to feel prepared by wearing a complete outfit. 

Ready, Set, Record!

Currently the Undergraduate Research Center recommends designing a recording where there is a main screen presenting a poster or presentation while video of the presenter is visible in a smaller sub-screen (also known as picture in picture format). When recording, be sure to remember:

  • Speak clearly and keep water nearby. It is likely you will do multiple takes and pause, so be sure to enunciate and stay hydrated to keep your voice strong. Here are some voice exercises that can also help warm up the vocal chords. 
  • If you are sharing space, be sure to let people know you will be recording. If helpful, invite them to be your audience!
  • Record your presentation multiple times. This will give you options to pick your final version or even edit  multiple versions together. It is important to take breaks throughout so as to not get too tired. 
  • Be yourself! This is your project and could not have been done without you. Let your passion for the research shine and it will also help ease any nerves. 

Don't forget to save your file in the best format. For the URC Undergraduate Research, Scholarship and Creative Activities Conference,  y ou can save your video presentation in one of the following  video formats:  MP4, M4V, MPG, WMV, MOV, AVI, 3GP, FLV, MKV, MTS, VP6, WMA, M4A, AAC, MP2, MP3.  The max length of time for videos is 15 minutes and the size limit for video files is 2GB .   Be sure to check the requested media requirements for other conferences.

Recording Options

GoReact ( GoReact.com ) is a video presentation application exclusively available for 2021 Undergraduate Research Conference presenters. As the hosting platform for the URC conference, there is the ability to record, edit and even add attachments that compliment your presentation. There are also options for group presenters and mobile compatibility, giving students flexible options in recording. GoReact comes with many resources to help presenters create content that audiences can actively participate in. To learn more about recording with GoReact, conference presenters should check their email accounts and also review uploading directions as well. 

GoReact Student Support Library

AggieVideo (also known as Kaltura)

AggieVideo ( https://video.ucdavis.edu/ ) is an application available where you can upload, manage, edit, and share UC Davis video or audio content. Content can be shared publicly with anyone, or privately to select or authorized viewers, making it a great resource for recording presentations. AggieVideo is also compatible with Canvas and Zoom, with more information found at the AggieVideo Knowledge Base . 

To get started with AggieVideo, download Kaltura Capture using these instructions . 

Zoom is a campus resource available to all students and is recommended for recording video presentations. Be sure to check out the official UC Davis Zoom knowledge base for more information.  The application is a great resource for recording group presentations as it allows multiple presenters to participate in the recording all together. Note that the person setting up the recording will be considered the "host", and in primary control of the application unless recording responsibilities are shared. 

Additional information can be found here:  Official Zoom Help Center Recording Tutorial

PowerPoint is great option for presenters who only have audio recording capabilities and/or are looking to incorporate more dynamic details in to their presentation. Recordings can be made over PowerPoint slides individually too, which is a nice option if wanting to break up recording in to sections. To view how to record in PowerPoint, please view this official Microsoft video tutorial .

PowerPoint is part of the Microsoft Office Suite, which the UC Davis community can access using instructions found here . 

Other Resources

  • Example 1 (AggieVideo) 
  • Example 2 (Zoom group)
  • GoReact Recording Tips
  • How to Film a Talking Head
  • How to Engage an Audience Through Camera
  • Using Zoom to Create eLearning

How to introduce yourself in a conference presentation (in six simple steps)

Photo of Master Academia

Academic conferences are great occasions for networking. Particularly the start of a conference presentation offers a unique opportunity to introduce yourself to the audience, concisely and effectively.

Why effective introductions during academic conference presentations matter

Presentations at academic conferences are an important part of every academic journey. Conferences provide a platform for you to present your research, receive feedback and establish professional connections.

Thus, while the content of your presentation is certainly important, the networking aspect of academic conferences should not be underestimated.

One key strategy of networking at academic conferences is to prepare a concise and effective introduction of yourself.

A good introduction includes information on who you are, what your research is about, and how people can learn more about you. And of course how they can connect with you.

An effective introduction at the start of your conference presentation will help people remember you. Even more importantly, they should feel invited to get in touch with you. In-person, via email, or on social media. This is how networks are formed, which can have a lasting effect on your career.

Step 1: State your full name, position and your university affiliation

Imagine you are presenting at a conference. It is your turn, and you stand in front of the audience.

Don’t jump straight into the topic of your presentation! Instead, start with the basics. State your name, your position and the university affiliation you have.

Make sure to say your name out loud, even if it is written on your presentation slides. People may not know how to pronounce your name, and it will make it easier for them to address you later.

Step 2: Explain your research area and focus in 2-3 sentences

Next comes the most difficult part: explain your research area and focus. The key is to zoom out a bit from the specific topic of your presentation, to showcase your wider research area and focus.

Explaining your research area in a few sentences is challenging. However, it is essential to keep it short. Think of 2-3 sentences. You do not want to take away precious time from your actual presentation.

Therefore, these 2-3 sentences should be prepared well. You do not want to start rambling.

Step 3: Tell people where they can find out more about you online

Today’s academics are required to have an online presence. This is also true for PhD students.

Your online presence can consist, for instance, of your academic website , or your online university profile. Maybe you also work on a research project that has its own website with information. Whatever you decide to share with your conference audience, make sure that everything is up to date!

Furthermore, it can be useful for your audience to know your ORCID ID to easily access a full list of your publications.

Step 4: Provide your professional social media handles

Not every academic uses social media, and not everyone uses them professionally.

However, if you do, make sure to also point people to – for instance – your Twitter or LinkedIn account.

Step 5: Provide your email address and invite people to reach out

Social media aside, emails remain a key way of communicating in academia. Therefore, make sure to also provide your email address.

Put the actual address on your presentation slides and emphasise that you are happy to connect and receive questions or comments.

Step 6: Emphasize that you are happy to connect and chat after your presentation

Finally, point out that you are happy to connect and chat with people after your presentation. Then, transition to your presentation.

You can of course also decide to include this point at the end of your presentation.

Just don’t assume that people will automatically approach you. Some will, but others won’t. Maybe they are too shy, too hesitant or don’t want to disturb you. Therefore, it is always safer to invite them to approach you.

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Screen sharing a PowerPoint presentation

There are three methods you can use to screen share a PowerPoint presentation in a Zoom meeting. If you have dual monitors, you can share a slide show while viewing the presenter's notes on another monitor. If you have a single monitor, you can also start the slide show in a window so you have access to other meeting features while sharing your presentation. 

If you have other participants presenting portions of the PowerPoint, you can give them slide control in Zoom, so that they can control the slideshow on their end, without needing to ask you to move the slides forward. Additionally, PowerPoint slides can be shared as a Virtual Background for a more immersive sharing experience. 

This article covers:

Dual monitors with slide show and presenter's views

Single-monitor setup with slide show view in a window, single-monitor setup with slide show in full screen.

Follow these steps if you are using multiple monitors and want to present your PowerPoint in one monitor, while viewing the presenter's notes in another monitor.

  • Open the PowerPoint file you want to present.
  • Start or join a Zoom meeting.

how to make conference presentation

  • Select your primary monitor then click Share . If you are not sure which monitor is your primary, select the one that PowerPoint opens in.

how to make conference presentation

  • Switch back to Powerpoint and click the Slide Show tab. 

how to make conference presentation

Follow these steps if you have a single monitor and want to share your PowerPoint presentation in slide show view, but have it contained in a window rather than in full screen. This is useful if you need to access meeting features, such as in-meeting chat or managing participants, while sharing your PowerPoint presentation.

  • Click the Slide Show tab and then select Set Up Slide Show .
  • Under Show type , select Browsed by an individual (window) and then click OK .

how to make conference presentation

  • In Zoom, start or join a meeting .
  • Select the PowerPoint window and then click Share .

Note : Be sure you select the PowerPoint window, not the entire screen. Sharing the PowerPoint window only will allow you to use other features without interrupting the view of the presentation. 

  • Select your monitor then click Share . 

Business Wire

India Flag

Match yet to begin

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Giants won by 3 runs

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Day 2 - SA A trail by 24 runs.

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Stars won by 33 runs

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Melbourne Renegades Women

Match starts in 2 hrs 39 mins

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India Capitals

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Urbanrisers Hyderabad

Match starts in 3 hrs 59 mins

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Australia won by 6 wickets (with 42 balls remaining)

  • 'We're still buzzing' - Cummins hails Australia's legacy-defining World Cup show 22h Tristan Lavalette
  • Cummins: An Aussie World Cup winning captain like no other 2d Osman Samiuddin
  • Is Mohammed Shami's 24 wickets in the 2023 World Cup a record? 1d Steven Lynch
  • Australia's irrepressible trio of quicks cement their legacy 3d Sidharth Monga
  • India lost to the conditions, but could they have been braver with the bat? 3d Sidharth Monga
  • Advance Australia, inevitably 3d Osman Samiuddin
  • Head's magnificent 137 leads Australia to sixth World Cup title 3d Andrew Miller
  • Head hunts down victory as India fall prey once again 3d Shashank Kishore
  • New format, new teams, a bit more India vs Australia 21h Alex Malcolm
  • India vs Australia T20I series: Suryakumar and Head in the spotlight 22h Hemant Brar
  • Suryakumar to lead India for Australia T20Is; Axar returns 2d ESPNcricinfo staff
  • Warner to miss T20I series against India after World Cup triumph 2d ESPNcricinfo staff
  • Dunkley, Capsey and Day help Stars deny Scorchers 16h Tristan Lavalette
  • Carmichael, Brown clinch tense win to keep Sixers' finals hopes alive 1d Tristan Lavalette
  • Wolvaardt's one-woman show helps Strikers down Thunder 1d AAP and ESPNCricinfo staff
  • Heat lose second in a row as Day and Sutherland give Stars rare win 3d AAP and ESPNcricinfo staff
  • Graeme Swann moulds young England spinners dreaming of another series win in India 3h Vithushan Ehantharajah
  • Pakistan's tour of Netherlands in 2024 postponed indefinitely at PCB's request 14h Danyal Rasool
  • Rashid Khan withdraws from BBL 13 with back injury 2h ESPNcricinfo staff
  • Danielle McGahey acknowledges her international career 'is over' after ICC transgender ruling 20h ESPNcricinfo staff

Rohit Sharma: 'We were not good enough today'

Rohit Sharma feels India were 20-30 runs short with the bat and one more early wicket away from making a game of it in Ahmedabad

'Rohit and Kohli stood up for India in every moment'

India's heartbreak is most poignant in the dashed hopes of Rohit Sharma and Rahul Dravid

Advance Australia, inevitably

Rahul Dravid: 'We haven't played any fearful cricket in this final'

Head hunts down victory as India fall prey once again

Australia player reactions: 'I think this is bigger than 2015'


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