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  • Published: 05 June 2019

Good Practice for Conference Abstracts and Presentations: GPCAP

  • Cate Foster   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0001-6236-5580 1 ,
  • Elizabeth Wager   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-4202-7813 2 , 3 ,
  • Jackie Marchington   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0001-8482-3028 4 ,
  • Mina Patel   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0001-9357-1707 5 ,
  • Steve Banner   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-7852-9284 6 ,
  • Nina C. Kennard   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-8480-7033 7 ,
  • Antonia Panayi   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-1997-3705 8 ,
  • Rianne Stacey   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-6516-3172 9 &

the GPCAP Working Group

Research Integrity and Peer Review volume  4 , Article number:  11 ( 2019 ) Cite this article

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Research that has been sponsored by pharmaceutical, medical device and biotechnology companies is often presented at scientific and medical conferences. However, practices vary between organizations and it can be difficult to follow both individual conference requirements and good publication practice guidelines. Until now, no specific guidelines or recommendations have been available to describe best practice for conference presentations.

This document was developed by a working group of publication professionals and uploaded to PeerJ Preprints for consultation prior to publication; an additional 67 medical societies, medical conference sites and conference companies were also asked to comment. The resulting recommendations aim to complement current good publication practice and authorship guidelines, outline the general principles of best practice for conference presentations and provide recommendations around authorship, contributorship, financial transparency, prior publication and copyright, to conference organizers, authors and industry professionals.

While the authors of this document recognize that individual conference guidelines should be respected, they urge organizers to consider authorship criteria and data transparency when designing submission sites and setting parameters around word/character count and content for abstracts. It is also important to recognize that conference presentations have different limitations to full journal publications, for example, in the case of limited audiences that necessitate refocused abstracts, or where lead authors do not speak the local language, and these have been acknowledged accordingly. The authors also recognize the need for further clarity regarding copyright of previously published abstracts and have made recommendations to assist with best practice.

By following Good Practice for Conference Abstracts and Presentations: GPCAP recommendations, industry professionals, authors and conference organizers will improve consistency, transparency and integrity of publications submitted to conferences worldwide.

Peer Review reports

Note on terminology

Company refers to any medical commercial organization involved with research, such as pharmaceutical or biotechnology companies and medical device manufacturers.

Company-sponsored refers to all types of research (preclinical and clinical, pre- and post-marketing) that is directly sponsored and/or funded by a company. While this classification does not necessarily include research performed under other types of funding arrangement, such as investigator-sponsored or investigator-initiated trials or research (where companies are not involved with conference presentations or publications), those involved in submitting investigator-initiated study material to conferences are encouraged to consider following these recommendations.

Conference is used to refer to meetings, often organized by academic societies, that invite submissions (usually as abstracts) presenting research findings on an aspect of medicine or science. Such conferences have a scientific (or programme) committee that reviews and selects presentations to be given at the meeting from the submitted abstracts.

Abstract refers to those submitted for consideration to scientific and medical conferences (see above).

Presentation refers to posters or slides developed from abstracts accepted for presentation at such conferences.

Lead author refers to the person who normally presents study findings at a conference and is usually listed as the first author. This is often the Principal Investigator.

Society sponsor refers to a member of the society that is holding the conference, who acts as sponsor (or guarantor) of a submitted abstract.

Presenting author refers to the person on the author list who attends the conference and presents the poster or abstract.

Non-author presenter or local presenter refers to a person who presents on behalf of the author group, but who is not listed as an author.


Research that has been sponsored (see the ‘Note on terminology’ section for precise definitions of these terms) by commercial organizations (e.g. pharmaceutical, medical device and biotechnology companies) is often presented at scientific and medical conferences. These conferences are pivotal for the presentation of data from ongoing research projects and clinical trials to the relevant audience and are often the first opportunity to disclose and discuss potentially practice-changing data. They facilitate early communication of data long before publication of a full manuscript and also provide the opportunity to present results of additional analyses such as secondary and/or exploratory endpoints and post hoc analyses. However, while abstracts submitted to conferences are reviewed by a scientific committee for suitability and interest to the audience prior to acceptance, it is important to note that they are not considered peer-reviewed as they are not subject to the same rigorous peer-review process as are journal articles. Poster and oral presentations based upon accepted abstracts are rarely, if ever reviewed. Furthermore, a recent systematic review showed that less than 50% of all studies accepted as abstracts went on to be published in full following presentation at a conference [ 1 ]. While it is desirable to strive for full publication after a conference presentation to ensure transparency and allow healthcare professionals to make appropriate informed decisions based on the peer-reviewed literature, this is not always practical and/or achievable. Therefore, it is important that abstracts and conference presentations, particularly for company-sponsored research, are developed with as rigorous a process as that of a full publication, because these may ultimately become the only source for a particular analysis.

While there are recommendations on the preparation of journal articles and qualification for authorship [ 2 ], and guidelines for best practices in the publication of company-sponsored research [ 3 , 4 , 5 ], until now, no specific guidelines have been available to describe good practice and best principles for conference presentations. This has resulted in diverse practices and a lack of standard expectations for transparency and ethical approaches. Although some aspects of good practice in Good Publication Practice (GPP) [ 5 ] and in reporting guidelines such as CONSORT and PRISMA for Abstracts [ 6 , 7 ] can be applied to conference presentations, the most widely cited recommendations on authorship from the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) relate exclusively to publications in peer-reviewed journals [ 3 ]. These recommendations were not designed for, and therefore are not fully applicable to, abstract submissions and conference presentations and are challenging to implement in practice. Building on the acceptance and recognition of the GPP guidelines (first published as GPP for Pharmaceutical Companies in 2003 [ 3 ], updated in 2010 [ 4 ] and most recently published as GPP3 in 2015 [ 5 ]), this article endeavours to extend their principles and to address challenges relating to the presentation of company-sponsored research at academic meetings. These recommendations, on Good Practice for Conference Abstracts and Presentations (GPCAP), focus on company-sponsored research (see the ‘Note on terminology’ section). However, they do not cover other company activities that may be linked to conferences (e.g. satellite symposia organized alongside scientific conferences, medical education and marketing activities) because these are governed by regional and national legislation or codes (e.g. EFPIA code of practice [ 8 ], FDA regulations [ 9 ]). As with the GPP guidelines, GPCAP focuses on the presentation of all types of company-sponsored research and the specific challenges surrounding this, rather than investigator-sponsored or investigator-initiated trials or research (where companies have no role in their presentation or publication), although many of the principles also apply to the presentation of other types of research at scientific meetings. The aim of GPCAP is therefore to provide guidance on good submission and presentation practice for scientific and medical congresses, specifically addressing certain aspects where current publication guidelines are inadequate.

These recommendations were developed after informal discussions among a group of individuals who have wide experience of working with authors to develop abstracts, posters and slides for oral presentations reporting company-sponsored research. The main impetus for this article arose from a meeting regarding GPP3 updates (with which some of the authors had been involved). Prior to this meeting, two authors had noted that even the revised GPP3 guidelines contained limited advice for conference abstracts and presentations. Meeting participants discussed the requirement for clearer guidance and formed a working group to address this gap. At this point, invitations to join the group were extended to potential authors known to have previously presented relevant research at meetings of the International Society of Medical Publication Professionals (ISMPP) or had a known interest in conference presentations. This also ensured a broader global representation and improved the balance between pharmaceutical and medical communication agency representation. The authors all work or have worked for pharmaceutical companies and/or medical communication agencies (see the ‘Competing interest’ section for specific details). After a search for recommendations and guidelines on this topic revealed nothing specific (either in ICMJE or in a search on EQUATOR), the authors developed an initial outline for this article; individuals worked on pre-agreed sections and then a collective review of the full draft, comprising all sections was completed (see ‘Authors’ contributions’ for specific details). The resulting article was posted as a preprint on PeerJ [ 10 ] on 19 October 2017 for open comment. All comments received (and their responses) can be seen with the preprint on the PeerJ website. These comments were used to revise the recommendations. Some authors invited informal consultation from colleagues, and a courtesy legal review, as appropriate, was completed to ensure compliance with employee company policies. The copyright section was reviewed specifically for appropriate interpretation of copyright law. In addition to the preprint, 65 medical societies and medical conference sites, and two for-profit companies that run conferences on behalf of societies, were contacted for comment via contact emails listed on their websites or via ‘contact us’ options found on their websites. The societies and conferences and conference service companies were selected by recommendation from within the author group, to ensure balance across therapeutic areas, geography and variety of website submission sophistication. Only one of these societies/companies responded. All comments received on the preprint by 10 July 2018 were collated and discussed, and this final version was generated. The preprint was viewed by 2769 unique visitors and downloaded 3300 times between 19 October 2017 and 25 March 2019.

The recommendations are given here by topic, and so there is some overlap by intention, to ensure that all the key elements for any given topic appear together and allow readers to browse by topic.


The following principles aim to cover the key areas relevant for submissions to any research-based conference.

Author listings should reflect those who did the research and can take accountability for its conduct, and for the analysis and interpretation of the findings. Criteria for authorship of conference abstracts and presentations should generally be the same as those for full publications, although there can be occasions where local presenters may be included as authors, for example, where a conference requires a presenter to be listed as an author.

All authors should be involved in the development, and approve the final version, of any abstract, poster or slides that bears their names. For studies involving large numbers of researchers it may be most efficient for a subgroup of those involved in the studies to develop conference abstracts and presentations (similar to the use of a writing group to develop publications from large studies).

Posters and slides should list key contributors and describe their contributions to the research and development of the presentation.

Study registration numbers (e.g. ClinicalTrials.gov , EudraCT, PROSPERO) should be included on abstracts, posters and slides.

All sources of funding for the research and its presentation, and any author conflicts of interest, should be disclosed on posters and slides, on the conference submission site, and if space permits, on abstracts.

Any medical writing support and associated funding should be acknowledged on posters and slides, on the conference submission site, and if space permits, on abstracts.

These recommendations are mapped against the development of an abstract and subsequent conference presentation workflow in Fig.  1 , referenced by section number.

figure 1

Roadmap of recommendations following abstract and presentation development stages

Recommendations for conference organizers

Conference organizers should:

encourage the inclusion of contributor lists on posters and slides;

include a field for trial registration details on abstract forms (outside the word or character limit) and publish this information with the abstract;

include a field for sponsor information on abstract forms (outside the word or character limit) and publish this information with the abstract;

include a field for disclosing medical writing support on abstract forms (outside the word or character limit) and publish this information with the abstract;

use ORCID identifiers (individual researcher identifiers [ 11 ]) to identify authors and presenters;

not set arbitrary limits on the number of authors, and permit the use of study group names; and

distinguish between authors (meeting the ICMJE criteria) and any additional individuals (who are not authors or contributors) included in the submission, for example, as a result of a requirement for a society member to sponsor submissions. With limited space in any printed book of abstracts, this information might be restricted to appearing with the online version of the abstract.

1.0 Authorship

1.1 authors.

1.1.1 The author listing on conference abstracts and presentations should reflect the people who did the research or contributed substantially to the design of the study or to the interpretation of the results, and who were involved in the development of the presentation and who are willing to take responsibility for the findings. Authorship and author order should be agreed by all authors (see 1.1.5 for factors to consider). While the authorship criteria recommended by the ICMJE are widely used for journal articles [ 2 ], GPP3 recognizes that it may be necessary to adopt slightly different criteria for conference abstracts and presentations [ 5 ]. For example, while all named authors should review (at least once), approve the content of abstracts and presentations and be willing to take responsibility for the findings, it may be impractical to expect all authors to contribute to drafting and critically revising abstracts in the same way as for full manuscripts, because of the abstract brevity, time constraints, etc. There is an argument for limiting the authors to a number that can meaningfully comment and review an abstract (see 1.2.1) and using a study group to identify others involved in the wider study. Our collective past experience indicates that it becomes impractical for everyone to be involved in a group with more than 10 authors, which is also the maximum number suggested by GPP3 [ 5 ].

1.1.2 Authorship criteria for all anticipated journal articles and primary conference presentations should, ideally, be agreed at the start of the research, and author listings for subsequent secondary abstracts and presentations should be finalized well before work starts on the secondary material [ 12 ]. As with journal publications, whatever criteria are used to determine authorship should be applied equally to all authors, regardless of whether they are company employees, contractors, independent clinicians, researchers or consultants.

1.1.3 Authors and contributors should have access to all relevant study materials and data to permit them to understand the research findings. Abstracts may need to be developed soon after results are analysed and before a final clinical study report is available. In such cases, authors should always have access to the protocol, statistical tables and any other information necessary to discuss and develop the planned abstract and presentation.

1.1.4 If individuals are authors on abstracts and presentations written in languages in which they are not proficient, companies should work with them and offer whatever reasonable assistance is required to permit them to discuss and review material effectively (e.g. to provide translations for the authors, or a discussion with an interpreter or local investigator/presenter who can read and explain the text). Authors may also choose not to be listed for such a conference abstract and presentation (see also 1.1.6).

1.1.5 Whatever convention is (or will be) used to determine the order of authors on the related full publications in journals should generally also be used to determine the order of listing on conference abstracts and presentations. The final order should be agreed by all authors; however, conference requirements (e.g. listing the presenting author first) must be respected. In cases where first or last co-authorship is requested, the conference organizers should be contacted for guidance.

1.1.6 While the authorship of conference abstracts and presentations should accurately reflect those who were involved in the research, individuals who meet the ICMJE authorship criteria (and may be listed on a subsequent full publication) may choose not to be listed for a conference abstract and presentation (e.g. if they are unable to review and/or approve the material within the deadline). While this individual choice should be respected, significant contributions to the research should be acknowledged where possible; that is, in a contributor list included on the presentation.

1.1.7 Conference organizers should encourage the use of ORCID identifiers to identify authors on abstracts and presentations, to avoid ambiguity between authors with similar or identical names. (Note: many journals and institutions now require authors to include their ORCID identifier at manuscript submission.)

1.2 Contributors/study groups

1.2.1 We encourage conferences (and company sponsors) not to limit the number of authors (or contributors) who may be listed on an abstract or presentation, because this practice may prevent the author list from accurately reflecting who did the work. However, named authors should be limited to those who have actively participated in the development of the abstract (see 1.1.1). GPP3 recommends an author group of fewer than 10 [ 5 ]; above this number, naming a study group may be a more practical approach. Likewise, if the source data come from a study, and the authors involved in that study meet authorship criteria, then the use of a study group name is strongly recommended.

1.2.2 Study group names may be helpful to acknowledge contributions to projects involving a large number of people, in addition to named authors who have contributed both to the research and to developing the presentation. Inclusion of a study name, either in the title or by including a study group in the author listing, will facilitate linkage of conference abstracts and presentations with journal publications. However, this should not be a substitute for including a unique study identifier such as a registration number for clinical trials (e.g. ClinTrials.gov or EudraCT numbers), which is a more reliable linkage method because these can be used as search terms in relevant databases. Provision should be made for study group membership details to be added during abstract submission and made available via the conference website once an abstract has been accepted.

1.3 Presenters and society sponsors

1.3.1 While the ICMJE criteria are a useful starting point for determining authorship, they were not designed for conference abstracts and presentations. Therefore, in certain circumstances, and if all authors agree, it is permissible for somebody who does not (or will not) meet the ICMJE authorship criteria for a journal article to present findings at a conference. For example, a local presenter may be included (preferably in a contributor list and not as an author) if the authors of the conference presentation will not attend a particular meeting, do not speak the language required or are not members of the academic society hosting the meeting. This local presenter, for example, could be an investigator who recruited patients but did not contribute to the study design or interpretation of data and will not be involved in developing journal articles. In the contributor list, this person should be designated as ‘presenter’ to clarify their role. However, if the conference requires that only authors can present, then the new presenter will need to be added to the author list.

1.3.2 Abstract authors (including company authors) attending a conference should always be preferred as presenters over non-author presenters. In cases where an author is not available to present, and the conference acquiesces to a non-author covering the presentation, the non-author presenter should be familiar with the research design and findings and have a good knowledge of the subject area in order to respond to questions about the presentation even if, unlike the authors, they cannot take direct responsibility for the research. An appropriately qualified individual from the sponsoring company (e.g. Medical Director) could present study findings if authors are not available; however, individuals with a commercial role in the sponsoring company (i.e. sales or marketing) should not act as non-author presenters.

1.3.3 All those listed as authors on an abstract or presentation must be able to take accountability for the research (following the spirit of the ICMJE recommendations). Therefore, if conferences require a society member to sponsor a submission, and none of the authors or study investigators is a member, this sponsorship role should be distinguished from that of the study authors if the sponsor/member was not involved with the research. If an existing author happened to be a society member, then no such distinction would be necessary. If the conference wishes to list the society sponsor, then this role should be indicated on the abstract (e.g. by an asterisk) and in a contributor list (not the author list) on the presentation.

Figure  2 illustrates some scenarios to differentiate between authors and non-author presenters.

figure 2

When is a presenter not an author? Different roles possible for authors and presenters of conference presentations

2.0 Conference abstracts

2.1 To facilitate linkage between conference abstracts and presentations, and subsequent publications, abstracts should include a study identifier such as a registration number (for clinical trials), study name, protocol number or grant number. To encourage this, conference organizers should require this information in a specific field on the submission form and publish it with the abstract.

2.2 Abstracts describing company-sponsored research should always name the sponsor and all funding sources (if more than the sponsor).

2.3 Authors or sponsoring companies may involve professional medical writers to support authors in the drafting of abstracts. All authors should agree to these arrangements and work closely with any writers and approve the final version. Space limitations on abstract submission sites usually preclude writing support acknowledgement. Conference organizers should consider requesting this information and publishing it with the abstract.

2.4 We encourage conference organizers to consider the requirements of reporting guidelines when setting limits on the length of abstracts. For example, CONSORT for Abstracts suggests that around 300 words may be needed to adequately report randomized clinical trials [ 7 ].

2.5 We also encourage conference organizers to maximize the available space for content in abstracts by not counting authors, affiliations, trial registration numbers and sponsor acknowledgments towards the word or character limit.

2.6 Most conferences will not consider reports of findings that have already been published in full (i.e. in a peer-reviewed journal). This requirement must be respected and, even if permitted, presenting findings after their full publication should be avoided. However, abstracts presenting findings or novel analyses that are not included in a full publication may be submitted if the conference permits this. In situations where a journal article is in preparation at the same time as abstract submission, subsequent submission of the article may overtake the abstract in acceptance, at which point the conference needs to be advised, and the journal also, to avoid issues of prior data release. It may be necessary to withdraw the abstract, or it might be possible for the journal and conference to come to a mutually acceptable arrangement regarding either delay of the article or amendment to the intended presentation. Posting summary results on a trial register (e.g. ClinicalTrials.gov , EudraCT) or a clinical study report to meet regulatory requirements is not regarded as full publication by the ICMJE [ 2 ] and should not prevent subsequent presentation at conferences.

2.7 As conference submission requirements become more detailed (and therefore labour-intensive), conference organizers should acknowledge that it is acceptable for the abstract submission process to be completed by a third party (e.g. a medical communications company) on behalf of the submitting author, with that author’s permission. Where feasible, the submission might be checked by the submitting author prior to the actual submission; however, there are some sites where submission has to be completed in one sitting, and on other occasions, time differences (and time pressures) may make this impractical.

3.0 Conference presentations (posters and slides)

3.1 general considerations.

3.1.1 Study identifiers (e.g., trial registration numbers) should be included on presentations to improve linkage between conference presentations and subsequent publications (see also Section 4).

3.1.2 All funding sources for the research, any assistance with the presentation (e.g. medical writing support, editorial assistance or design) or support for conference attendance and authors’ conflicts of interest should be clearly disclosed on posters and slides. For posters and slides, such disclosures should be clearly legible (i.e. not significantly smaller or lighter-coloured than the main text).

3.1.3 Author listing and order on posters and slides should be the same as that on the abstract. Authors should not be added to a presentation after the abstract is accepted. However, if an author is unavailable to work on a presentation after abstract acceptance, their name may be removed from the author list but their contribution (to the study and/or publication) should be acknowledged. If an author other than the first-named author is to present, this should be indicated without changing the author order. The principle is to retain the same information about authors as on the abstract for ease of identifying the related presentation. Similarly, the title of the presentation should not be changed after submission; thus, the titles of the abstract and poster or slides should be identical. [If someone not on the author list is to present, and this is known in time for poster preparation, the relevant name could be added as a footnote, or close to the author list thus: (Presenter: J. Doe, ABC Institute, City, Country).]

3.1.4 All named authors should contribute to the development of, and approve, the presentation (see 1.1.1). Authors should be given sufficient time for presentation development and review. Making significant changes to posters or slides after all-author approval should be avoided. If changes must be made after approval, the actual final version must be sent to all authors. As with journal articles, for large studies, it may be most efficient for a subgroup to coordinate the development of a presentation (similar to a writing group for an article). This should be considered when deciding authorship.

3.1.5 Each author’s contributions to the study and to the development of the presentation should be listed.

3.1.6 Conference presentations should include a list of contributors who have made a significant contribution to the research or the presentation, regardless of whether they are listed as authors or attending the meeting. Ideally, permission for such acknowledgment should be sought in writing.

3.1.7 Because abstracts are usually submitted several months before a conference, they may contain interim or preliminary findings. Therefore, by the time of the conference presentation, some details may have changed. If research findings change substantially between abstract submission and conference presentation and affect the conclusions of the research, we recommend that authors alert the conference to this discrepancy. This is particularly pertinent in the case of oral presentations (because abstracts are typically selected for oral presentations based on the impact of the findings). Regardless of whether the new data change the conclusions of the research, we recommend indicating (e.g. in a footnote) any data that are different from those on the accepted abstract.

3.1.8 Authors or sponsoring companies may involve professional medical writers in the production of posters and slides. Authors should agree to these arrangements and work closely with any writers, editors and/or designers throughout the development of the presentation. Such support should be disclosed on the presentation, along with source(s) of funding (see also 3.1.2).

3.2 Posters

3.2.1 While there are platforms where posters can be made permanently available (e.g. on conference websites or platforms such as F1000 Research), some journals regard this as prior publication which may jeopardize full publication. Authors should therefore check the policies of their target journal(s) and of the sponsor or funder before agreeing to a poster being publicly posted.

3.2.2 Posters are not peer-reviewed by conferences and may not describe all aspects of the research. Posters should therefore not be viewed as a substitute for a full article in a peer-reviewed journal. However, if a poster is publicly available (and, ideally, searchable via an indexing system or DOI), it may be cited until the full publication is available, although some journals consider citation of posters as unpublished information rather than full citations. See Section 6 for citation best practice.

3.2.3 The lead author should be given the first option to attend the poster session(s), but this role may be taken by other authors or a local presenter (if no author can attend or if no authors can present in the language of the conference). The poster presenter should ideally be agreed before the abstract is submitted, although it is understood that circumstances may change by the time of the actual conference (see 1.3.1).

3.2.4 While disclosures, funding sources, acknowledgements and contributions should be clearly noted on the main poster, supplementary sources can be used to expand on these if there is not enough room for detailed information, and may be accessed via a QR code (or similar link). Such content should normally be available until the research is published, in full, in a journal (at which point the link should be deactivated). If QR codes (or similar technology) are used to provide copies of the poster or to link to other scientific content, these should only be available to conference attendees, unless the conference elects to make the posters freely available after the conference. Links for the QR codes may be time-limited to close once the conference is finished. Supplementary materials may include translations. Supplementary material should be provided under the same usage conditions as the poster and indicate who is the copyright holder or licensee.

3.3 Slides for oral presentations

3.3.1 While the lead author is normally expected to present study findings at conferences (and is given the first option to do so), this may not be possible due to local language requirements, availability to travel, or personal circumstances, etc. If the lead author chooses not to present study findings, another author may give the oral presentation. If none of the named authors is available or able to give the presentation, a non-author presenter may present the findings if all authors agree to this and the conference permits it (see also 1.3.1 and 1.3.2). The presenter should be agreed before the abstract is submitted (and only changed if that person becomes unavailable). The lead author should discuss the contents of the presentation and the interpretation of the findings with the presenter (and co-authors, if possible) before the conference to ensure the authors’ views are correctly represented.

3.3.2 If a non-author presenter gives a presentation on behalf of the named authors (or study group), this should be indicated at the beginning of the presentation. The presenter’s conflicts of interest should be noted on the disclosure slide.

3.3.3 Recordings of oral presentations may be posted online by conference organizers but, as with posters, care should be taken to ensure this does not jeopardize full publication in a peer-reviewed journal. Slides alone (without the accompanying talk or speaker notes) may be hard to interpret and not provide full context, so care should be taken if these are made publicly available. As with posters (see 3.2.4), online sources may also be considered to host supplementary materials for presentations if they are made available after the presentation. If slides are made publicly available, this should not occur until after the presentation has been given and should only occur with the agreement of all authors and sponsors, who will need to consider any restrictions around the posting of the data and possible ‘prior publication’ concerns for later use (see 6.1.2).

3.3.4 Some scientific meetings offer Continuing Medical Education (CME) credit for attendance at oral presentations. Local regulations and requirements of the accreditation body for this must be respected.

4.0 Encore abstracts and presentations

4.1. It is permissible to present the same research findings at more than one conference if both the first and subsequent conferences allow this. This practice may be referred to as an ‘encore’ (or more specifically an encore abstract or encore presentation). However, presentations of the same findings to the same audience should be avoided.

4.2 Although encore abstracts are not considered to be redundant publications (unlike publication of the same findings in more than one journal), some conferences elect only to accept findings that have not been presented at other conferences, and such requirements must be respected.

4.3 When considering encore abstracts, the authors and sponsoring company should decide whether it is most appropriate to submit identical abstracts to multiple conferences or whether it is better to emphasize different aspects of a trial (e.g. those of interest to different audiences). Use of study identifiers can help identify that multiple conference abstracts and presentations are from a single study. However, to avoid any confusion, we recommend that encores should be specifically identified as such (e.g. by stating that the presentation is an ‘encore’ and listing where previous abstracts of all or some of the findings were presented) (see also 4.4 and 4.6). We also recommend that previous presentations should be listed on the presentation, if accepted.

4.4 Conference organizers should consider including a means of identifying encore abstracts (e.g. including details of prior presentations) on the abstract submission form. This information should not be included in the abstract word or character count.

4.5 Addition of new data to a previously accepted abstract may not necessarily constitute a new abstract: conference guidelines should be consulted to confirm if this is acceptable. If no specific guidelines are provided, then as a general guide, if the new iteration adds any new data other than an update on analyses already contained in a previous abstract, then the new iteration should be regarded as a new abstract.

4.6 Where encore abstracts, or updated abstracts that include previously presented data, are accepted, their presentations should indicate that this is not the first time of presentation, for example, by a statement on the poster or slides such as “Data/some data first presented at [conference name and date]”.

4.7 Encore checklist: When deciding whether to submit an encore abstract to a conference to reach different audiences, authors and study sponsors should consider the following points.

What is the overlap, if any, with the audience of the earlier conference (e.g. in terms of region, specialism or profession)?

Are there any differences in the licensing status of any products mentioned in the presentation between the first and subsequent conference locations? For example, if the first presentation occurred in a region where a product is licensed, but later presentation(s) will take place in a region where it is not yet licensed, this fact may need to be reflected. For international meetings, remember that participants will attend from several regions, so the licensing status in different countries should be clarified.

Presentation at multiple meetings might delay and/or potentially jeopardize the full publication of research in a peer-reviewed journal. Companies should consider whether resources would therefore be better spent on ensuring a timely submission to a journal rather than preparing several encore abstracts and presentations.

5.0 Copyright considerations

5.1 Copyright transfer or publishing licence agreements that are executed during the abstract submission process are common when abstracts are to be formally published (e.g. in a conference-specific journal issue). These agreements relate only to the abstract, not to any subsequent presentation, unless explicitly agreed otherwise.

5.2 Copyright in a presentation is normally held by the authors, unless they have assigned it either to the conference or the sponsoring company. Re-use of a poster (at a subsequent meeting or in another format, such as a poster book or handout) normally requires permission from the copyright holder(s). It may therefore be simplest for authors to assign usage rights to the sponsor company if encore presentations or other types of re-use are planned. If a company author is included, then the copyright for that individual’s contribution rests with the company (not the employee).

5.3 If a conference wishes to acquire usage rights for abstracts, slides, or posters, we recommend that the conference offers an open access option under a Creative Commons (CC) licence. We encourage the use of the least restrictive CC-BY licence, which will allow authors and sponsoring companies the usage rights for subsequent presentations, as well as future publications. If presentations contain third-party material to which the authors do not hold copyright, it should be the responsibility of the conference organizers to clear rights for any further usage. The authors cannot be expected to anticipate the future use of materials by the conference organizers.

5.4 As for any publication, permission must be sought for use of third-party copyrighted material (e.g. a figure) in a presentation (and again for any encore presentations). Material should not be altered simply to avoid having to obtain permission from the copyright holder.

5.5 Peer-to-peer presentation at a scholarly conference by a researcher is generally considered to be fair dealing (UK) [ 13 ] or fair use (USA) [ 14 ], which does not require copyright permission. Any other use of a presentation by a company outside the conference will most likely be considered commercial use, for which permission from the rights holder(s) will be necessary.

6.0 Citing conference material

6.1 References (or citations) in scientific texts provide readers with source or background material and are used to justify or support statements. To be useable, the referenced material must be both permanently accessible and reliable; therefore, citations to full publications in journals that apply rigorous peer review are the ideal. However, if citations are needed for research that has not yet been fully published in a peer-reviewed journal, abstracts that have undergone scientific review (and on the basis of that have been accepted for presentation by a conference) may be cited, especially if they have also been published in a journal and are therefore permanently accessible and discoverable. Abstracts should not be cited after the full (primary) publication has been accepted by a journal.

6.2 Posters and slides are not peer-reviewed by conferences and are often not permanently or widely accessible or discoverable. Citations to posters or slides should therefore be avoided (see 6.1). However, if a poster or slide set is publicly available (and, ideally, discoverable via an indexing system or DOI), it may be cited until the full publication is available (although some journals consider citation of posters or slides as unpublished information rather than full citations). Authors and sponsor companies should ensure that publishing posters or slides online does not jeopardize full publication in a peer-reviewed journal.

6.3 To avoid citing conference posters or slides, companies should consider other dissemination routes such as listing findings as ‘Data on File’ (i.e. an unpublished data package held by the pharmaceutical company, which then should be supplied to anyone requesting those data).

6.4 If specific findings that were presented at a conference are omitted from a journal article (e.g. because of space constraints), they could be made accessible as supplementary material.

These recommendations summarize the authors’ collective experience with a view to outlining the underlying principles for best practice and providing guidance on the practicalities for navigating conference requirements. We did consider whether some of our recommendations could be accomplished by amendments to company–author agreements, but decided that such recommendations for ‘good practice for author agreements’ were beyond the remit and scope of this article and that GPP3 [ 5 ] adequately covers this aspect of author–sponsor relationship. Many of these recommendations are drawn from the working group’s experience across a variety of disease areas and conferences. However, this is also a limitation, in that by the nature of the authors’ work, their experience lies in conferences and conference submission systems with strong industry involvement. We believe that these recommendations could be applied to any type of scientific/medical conference and are as relevant to academic research as to company-sponsored research. Conferences maintain their value to the scientific community by covering the latest research and providing a forum for discussion: this value must not be lost due to lack of transparency or ethics in the preparation and presentation of the new data. By following these recommendations, industry professionals, authors and conference organizers will improve consistency, transparency and integrity of publications submitted to conferences worldwide.

It is earnestly hoped that future input from conference organizers and societies, as well anyone involved in submitting research to conferences, will augment and strengthen these recommendations. We therefore welcome feedback via the website ( https://gpcap.org ).

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Hopewell S, Clarke M, Moher D, Wager E, Middleton P, Altman DG, Schulz KF, The CONSORT group. CONSORT for reporting randomized controlled trials in journal and conference abstracts. Lancet. 2008;371:281–3.

Beller EM, Glasziou PP, Altman DG, et al. PRISMA for Abstracts: reporting systematic reviews in journal and conference abstracts. PLoS Med. 2013;10(4):e1001419. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001419 .

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Foster C, Wager E, Marchington J, Patel M, Banner S, Kennard NC, Panayi A, Stacey R. Good practice for conference abstracts and presentations: GP-CAP. PeerJ Preprints. 2017;5:e3356v1 https://doi.org/10.7287/peerj.preprints.3356v1 .

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Special thanks go to Peter Llewellyn of Network Pharma, for hosting the meeting on GPP3 that acted as a catalyst for getting these recommendations underway.

No author has received payment specifically for the development of this article.

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Cate Foster

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Elizabeth Wager

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Jackie Marchington

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Nina C. Kennard

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Antonia Panayi

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Rianne Stacey

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CF raised the initial suggestion for guidelines, co-developed preliminary sections of text for the initial draft and discussed comments and revisions, reviewed all versions and approved the submitted version. EW drafted the Principles section and other portions of the text, discussed comments and revisions, reviewed all versions and approved the submitted version. JM consulted on the initial suggestion for these guidelines, drafted the Copyright section and other portions of the text, discussed comments and revisions, reviewed all versions and approved the submitted version. MP co-developed the foundation of the Encore Presentations section, discussed comments and revisions, reviewed all versions and approved the submitted version. SB consulted on the initial suggestion for these guidelines, assisted in the development of the initial draft, reviewed all subsequent drafts and approved the submitted version. NK drafted the abstract and other portions of the text, discussed comments and revisions, reviewed all versions and approved the submitted version. AP developed several sections with the author group, discussed comments and revisions, reviewed all versions and approved the submitted version. RS consulted on the initial suggestion for these guidelines, co-developed preliminary sections of text for the initial draft, discussed comments and revisions, incorporated feedback on the pre-print version, reviewed all versions and approved the submitted version. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Cate Foster, Jackie Marchington, Steve Banner and Nina C Kennard work for medical communication agencies that provide professional medical writing or editing services to not-for-profit and for-profit clients.

Elizabeth Wager is self-employed and provides training, consultancy and editing services on medical publishing and publication ethics for pharmaceutical companies, medical communication agencies, publishers, universities and academic societies.

Mina Patel and Antonia Panayi work in Global Medical Affairs functions within the pharmaceutical industry.

Rianne Stacey worked for a medical communication agency (see above) during the majority of the time the work was done and now works at Jazz Pharmaceuticals, Oxford, UK, in a Global Medical Affairs function within the pharmaceutical industry.

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Foster, C., Wager, E., Marchington, J. et al. Good Practice for Conference Abstracts and Presentations: GPCAP. Res Integr Peer Rev 4 , 11 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1186/s41073-019-0070-x

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Do I Own Copyright Of A Paid Conference Presentation?

Do you own the copyright of a paid conference presentation? This may seem simple, but the answer is not always straightforward. Copyright ownership can be a complex issue, especially regarding paid conferences. As a presenter, you’ll need to understand your rights and the legal implications of owning the copyright of your presentation.

The ownership of copyright for a paid conference presentation typically depends on the terms and conditions set by the conference organizer or any agreements you have entered into regarding intellectual property rights.

In this article, we will explore the different factors that can affect copyright ownership of a paid conference presentation. Whether you are a seasoned conference presenter or a first-time speaker, this article will provide valuable insights into conference presentations and copyright ownership.

Key Takeaways

  • Ownership of copyright for a paid conference presentation can be complex and depends on factors such as contracts, nature of work, and laws.
  • Thoroughly reviewing contractual agreements is crucial to avoid potential legal disputes and ensure an understanding of copyright ownership and limitations.
  • Negotiating copyright ownership is important to ensure presenter control over their work, and consulting with an attorney can provide guidance on navigating legal complexities.
  • Protecting copyright through registration, notice, and control over use is crucial to maintain ownership and ensuring fair compensation.

Understanding Copyright Ownership

Determining copyright ownership of a paid conference presentation depends on various factors, such as the terms and conditions of the contract between the presenter and the conference organizer, the nature of the work, and the applicable laws and regulations.

Copyright laws protect original works of authorship, including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works. Intellectual property is the legal concept that protects the rights of creators and owners of original works from unauthorized use or reproduction.

In the context of paid conference presentations, copyright ownership can depend on whether the presentation is a work made for hire. The copyright ownership belongs to the conference organizer if the presentation is a work made for hire. However, if the presentation is not a work made for hire, the copyright ownership belongs to the presenter.

This is why you should carefully review the terms and conditions of the contract before agreeing to present at a conference. The types of paid conferences can also affect copyright ownership, as some conferences may have specific policies regarding copyright ownership and the use of presentations.

Understanding these various factors is crucial in determining the copyright ownership for a paid conference presentation.

Types of Paid Conferences

The subtopic of types of paid conferences encompasses industry conferences, academic conferences, and private conferences. These three categories of conferences have different objectives, attendees, and themes.

Types of Paid Conferences

Industry conferences are designed to bring together professionals within a particular field, academic conferences are geared towards scholars and researchers, and private conferences are usually exclusive and invite-only events.

Industry Conferences

Industry conferences provide a platform for professionals to share their knowledge and insights with a wider audience through paid presentations. While the benefits of networking and exposure are clear, questions may arise about who owns the copyright of these presentations. Here are three points to consider:

  • Conference Expenses: Presenters may assume they own the copyright to their paid presentation, given that they have put in the time and effort to create it. However, note that the conference organizers have paid for the venue, advertising, and logistical support needed to make the event happen. As such, they may argue that they have some claim to the intellectual property that is being presented.
  • Third-party Materials: Presenters may also include copyrighted materials from third-party sources, such as images, videos, or excerpts from published works. In these cases, the presenter may not own the copyright to these materials and may need to obtain the permission of the original copyright holder to use them in their presentation. Failure to do so could result in legal action against the presenter and the conference organizers.
  • Contractual Agreements: Presenters should carefully review any contractual agreements that they sign with the conference organizers. These agreements may specify who owns the copyright to the presentation and any limitations or restrictions on how the presentation can be used or shared.

Academic Conferences

Scholars participating in academic conferences must know the nuanced regulations surrounding intellectual property ownership, particularly regarding their research presentations.

While presenting at academic conferences, scholars can showcase their research and interact with peers in their field. However, recognize that the presentation may be subject to copyright laws.

In most cases, the scholar retains ownership of their research, but the presentation materials may be subject to copyright if they contain third-party materials such as images or charts. Scholars need to obtain permission or properly credit any third-party materials used in their presentation to avoid potential legal issues.

Academic conferences also allow scholars to develop their presentation skills and network with other professionals in their field. Scholars can use these opportunities to gain feedback on their research and explore potential collaborations.

Additionally, presenting at conferences can help scholars establish themselves as experts in their field and increase their visibility within their academic community. As such, scholars need to take advantage of these networking opportunities and hone their presentation skills to maximize the benefits of participating in academic conferences.

Private Conferences

Participants in private conferences must be mindful of intellectual property considerations and potential legal implications when sharing research and ideas with other professionals in their field.

These types of conferences may not have the same academic rigor or peer review level as traditional conferences, which could lead to challenges in establishing intellectual property ownership.

Confidentiality agreements and attendee rights may also come into play, as some conferences may require attendees to sign non-disclosure agreements or limit their ability to share information with others.

To protect their intellectual property, participants should be aware of their rights and responsibilities when attending private conferences. They should carefully review any contractual agreements they are asked to sign and ensure that they understand the terms and conditions of those agreements.

Additionally, they should be aware of any potential legal implications of sharing research or ideas with others and take steps to protect their intellectual property rights. With these considerations, participants can make informed decisions about protecting their intellectual property when attending private conferences.

Learn More: What to include in a conference presentation?

Contractual Agreements

When participating in paid conferences, carefully review the terms of any contractual agreements presented. This includes paying close attention to copyright ownership and negotiating terms if necessary.

It may also be wise to consult with an attorney to understand legal implications thoroughly. Individuals can protect their intellectual property and avoid potential legal disputes by taking these steps.

Reviewing the Terms of the Contract

Examining the terms of the contract is crucial in determining the ownership of the copyright for a successful conference presentation . Legal implications and potential disputes may arise if the contract is not reviewed thoroughly.

The terms of the contract clearly outline who holds the copyright and any limitations or restrictions on its use. Consider any exclusivity agreements, as they may limit the presenter’s ability to use the presentation in other contexts or grant permission for others to use it.

To emphasize the significance of contract review, consider the following table:

As shown in the table, failing to review the contract terms can result in legal disputes and uncertainty regarding copyright ownership. By thoroughly examining the contract, potential issues can be identified and resolved in advance, providing clarity and peace of mind for all parties involved.

Considering the importance of reviewing the terms of the contract, negotiating copyright ownership is the next crucial step in ensuring that the presenter has control over their work.

Negotiating Copyright Ownership

In reviewing the contract terms for a paid conference presentation, understand copyright ownership. Typically, the presenter retains the copyright to the presentation but carefully review the contract to ensure this is the case.

In some cases, the conference may require copyright ownership or specific restrictions on how the presentation can be used in the future. If the contract does not provide for ownership of the copyright, negotiating terms for ownership may be possible.

This can involve discussing the presentation’s intended use and any legal considerations that may arise. For example, if the presentation includes copyrighted material from others, permission may be obtained before ownership can be transferred.

Consulting with an attorney can help navigate the legal complexities of negotiating copyright ownership. A lawyer can review the contract and guide you on any potential legal issues. Additionally, a lawyer can help ensure the contract terms are fair and reasonable for all parties involved.

Consulting with an Attorney

Consulting with a legal professional can be beneficial in navigating the complexities of negotiating copyright ownership. The hiring process of an attorney can be daunting, and legal fees can be costly, but the benefits of having a legal expert on your side can outweigh the expenses.

In fact, research shows that 80% of individuals who consult with an attorney on copyright-related matters find that legal guidance helps protect their intellectual property.

Working with an attorney can help you understand the nuances of copyright law, assist in drafting and reviewing contracts, and provide guidance on navigating complex negotiations. Additionally, an attorney can help you strategize how to protect your intellectual property and ensure you receive fair compensation for your work.

Third-Party Involvement

The involvement of third-party individuals or organizations in a paid conference presentation may impact copyright ownership. When a speaker is compensated for their presentation, they provide a service to the conference organizer.

As such, any intellectual property rights that arise from the presentation may be subject to negotiation and agreement between the two parties. Here are some factors to consider when third-party involvement arises in a paid conference presentation:

  • The terms of the speaker compensation agreement
  • The conference organizer’s policies on intellectual property ownership
  • Any contractual agreements between the speaker and the conference organizer
  • The laws and regulations governing intellectual property rights in the relevant jurisdiction.

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Protecting Your Copyright

In the previous subtopic, we discussed the involvement of third parties in paid conference presentations and how it could affect copyright ownership. Now, let’s focus on how you can protect your copyright as a presenter.

As the creator of the presentation, you automatically own the copyright to your work. However, take further steps to protect your intellectual property. One way to do this is by registering your copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office.

This registration creates a legal record of your ownership and provides additional legal protection in case of copyright infringement.

Additionally, you can include a copyright notice on your presentation, identifying yourself as the copyright owner and informing others that the work is protected by copyright.

However, note that the fair use doctrine allows limited use of copyrighted material without permission from the copyright owner. For instance, if someone uses a small portion of your presentation for educational purposes or criticism, it may fall under the fair use doctrine.

In such cases, it may not be considered copyright infringement. Nonetheless, it’s still crucial to protect your copyright, as it gives you complete control over how your work is used.

To help you understand the key points better, we’ve created a table below, which summarizes the steps you can take to protect your copyright and the limitations of the fair use doctrine.

Owning copyright of a paid conference presentation is a complex issue that requires careful consideration of contractual agreements, conference type, and third-party involvement.

Protect your intellectual property by understanding the terms of the agreement and seeking legal advice if necessary. By doing so, you can safeguard your rights and ensure that you have the freedom to use and distribute your presentation in the future.

As the saying goes, ‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.’ Reviewing and understanding your intellectual property agreement can prevent costly legal battles and protect your creative work for years.

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14 December 2022

Legally Using Images in Presentation Slides

legally using images in presentation slides

Do you use images in presentations? Whether an in-person or virtual presentation or class, this article will help you establish best practices for legally using images in presentation slides and minimizing your risks of copyright infringement. Images include photographs, charts, maps, illustrations, charts and more. You may also like our online copyright course that includes an entire module on legally using images.

Scroll down to the end of this article to download our Simple Guide to Legally Using Images in Presentations.

Are You Legally Using Images in Presentation Slides?

How much attention do you pay to copyright law when you create slides for a presentation? While it's important to focus on the non-legal aspects of the presentation such as content and images to enhance speaking points, it's just as important to consider copyright issues. Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Include copyright management as a regular part of planning your presentations
  • Incorporate a permissions process into your planning
  • Be aware of your budget, if you have one, to pay for permissions
  • Plan for the possibility that if you're unable to secure permissions on time or the fees are too high, you'll need to adjust your content accordingly

As with most copyright issues, the matter of legally using images in presentation slides is nuanced. The answer to many questions is often “it depends” or "maybe" or "let's examine your particular circumstances." Understanding copyright issues will help ensure you're legally using images in presentation slides.

First Ask Yourself: Are the Images Protected by Copyright?

When you find an image online or elsewhere, assume it's protected by copyright. Once you identify the image you want to use, consider its copyright status and whether you need permission to use it.

Google has made it easier to determine an image's copyright status by providing copyright-related metadata for images in Google Images, when this information is available. To learn more, see Google’s article Image Rights Metadata in Google Images . Note that some images don't have this metadata and you'll need to do further research.

How Can You Avoid Copyright Concerns When Using Images in Presentations?

There are several ways to legally use images in presentation slides that don't require you to clear copyright permissions with the images' copyright holders.

Use Public Domain Images

If you determine that copyright in a work has expired and the work is in the public domain , you can use the work without obtaining permission. In the U.S., a work is in the public domain 70 years after the author's death. Most countries have a copyright duration of 50 to 70 years after an author's death.

Be mindful that a work that's been manipulated or adapted may constitute a new work. That new work may have a new and longer copyright duration, even though the underlying work is in the public domain.

State or Summarize Facts, News and Historical Events

You may state or summarize facts, news and historical events without permission as long as you don’t reproduce them exactly as you found them in the source.

This basic principle of copyright law works for text but is more difficult to apply to the use of images. You could, however, use data or summarize it rather than reproduce, adapt or share a source table or chart without permission.

Create Your Own Images

Instead of using third-party content, another way of legally using images in presentation slides is to use a chart or photograph that you or a fellow employee created. An employer generally owns the copyright in any works its employees create during the course of their job duties. So, keep in mind that if you take a photo as part of your employment duties, your company likely owns the copyright in it.

Employers, however, should be aware that you don't own copyright in everything created by your employees. You only own copyright in those works created as part of an employee's duties. So even if an employee posts a vacation photo on your organization's website, you likely don't own the photo if it wasn't created as part of their required duties.

Use a Stock Photo Agency

Your organization may have an account with a stock photo agency where you can find images that suit your purpose. You must follow the terms and conditions of the agency's license agreement to legally use these images in your presentation. Familiarize yourself with the license your stock photo agency uses (e.g., see the iStock Content License Agreement) .

Use Images with a Creative Commons (CC) License

Just because an image has a Creative Commons license doesn't mean you have unrestricted use of it. Read that license! Does it specifically allow your use of the image? Review the terms and conditions of the CC license to ensure your use complies.

Tips for using images governed by CC licenses:

  • You need to acknowledge the author of the image
  • Read the terms and conditions of the CC license to see what's permitted and what requires further permission
  • CC licenses are irrevocable, so you can use the image under the license as long as you need to

Don't Rely on Prior Copyright Permissions

If you already have permission to include a photograph in a management training session at your company’s headquarters in Baltimore, it doesn’t mean you can use that photo in a public presentation being made across North America. Know the terms of licenses and assignments (i.e., permissions). If they don’t apply to the current situation or current presentation, either seek additional permission or use an alternative image.

Use Images As-Is

Even if you have permission from the copyright owner, you may need specific permission to re-color, make black and white, or color, crop or otherwise manipulate images. Standard stock photo agency licenses, for example, may not allow these additional uses without further permission.

Does Fair Use or Fair Dealing Apply to Using Images in Presentation Slides?

Fair use or fair dealing provisions may apply to your use of images in your presentation, permitting you to reproduce a work without permission in some situations. You’ll have to apply the fair use or fair dealing criteria to your particular situation to determine if it falls within these statutory provisions.

Fair use and fair dealing are not without risk. The only way to know for certain if your fair use or dealing assessment is correct is in a court of law. It's wise to know your organization’s risk tolerance for an inaccurate fair use or fair dealing determination. It's also advisable to consult internal policy, a copyright specialist, and/or your legal counsel on these matters.

Familiarize Yourself with Copyright Law

Everyone needs to be familiar with the basics of copyright. Whether you’re designing presentations, writing the company newsletter, or photocopying materials, copyright should be part of your workflow. To understand how to legally use images, concentrate on:

  • What images are protected by copyright law
  • When you need to obtain permission to use images and when you can use images without permission or additional permission
  • Additional rights to consider when legally using images, such as moral rights that protect the paternity and integrity of an author, and privacy rights

You may also be interested in our article on obtaining permission to use comic strips , as well as Copyright Issues in E-Books and Electronic Publishing .

Want more helpful information like this? Our Copyright Leadership Certificate program provides a primer on U.S. and global copyright law, devotes an entire course to legally using images, and teaches you practical skills to interpret copyright in your workplace.

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QuickTips: The Blog @ Evidence Explained

Conference Presentations & Copyrights

A history enthusiast, in an online forum that will go unnamed, was singing the praises of conference presentations for self-education. He noted the pros and cons of both live and recorded instruction.  He spoke highly of the syllabus material some conferences provide, often numerous pages that distill the main points of each speaker’s presentation.

All well and good.

Then he plunged head first into the quagmire of legal rights: “Especially note,” he said, “whether the syllabus material carries a copyright symbol. Some conference presentations may not be new. If the syllabus material carries a copyright symbol, it means the presenter is giving you a ‘standard presentation’ and you cannot reproduce it.”

Please repeat after me, Dear Sir: Copyright has nothing to do with first runs, trial runs, or command performances. It’s a matter of ownership.

Whether a speaker is giving a presentation for the first time or the fiftieth, the speaker’s utterances are copyrighted. The speaker’s syllabus material is copyrighted. The speaker’s visual aids are copyrighted. What’s more, they are copyrighted whether they carry the hocus-pocus sign © or the hex word “Copyright”—or neither. 

Copyright is about ownership. Our homes don’t have a sign hanging on the front door saying “Owned by ... ,” but the lack of that sign doesn’t mean our homes are free for the taking, right?  Right. Copyright’s no different. What someone has labored to produce is not free for admirers to do with as they please, whether it’s a house or a finely honed hour of instruction.

If copyright is still a murky issue for you and you’d like a plain-language discussion of how to avoid copyright problems, check out QuickLesson 15, “Plagiarism—Five ‘Copywrongs’ of Historical Writing.”

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There are two sides to managing copyright in conference presentations:

  • use of work created by others
  • your own original material

Under the Copyright Act1968 , using material in a conference presentation without permission from the copyright owner is only allowed in certain circumstances, such as:

  • an insubstantial portion , for instance a short extract of text or a small portion of an image, may be used without permission, unless the portion is considered key, important or essential to the original work 
  • copyright material for criticism, review, parody or satire may be allowed without permission if the use is considered fair in that context  
  • material that has an appropriate Creative Commons licence can be used without getting permission from the copyright owner as the licence will indicate what uses are allowed

In all other circumstances, permission from the copyright owner is required. 

Publishing papers

If the conference paper or presentation is going to be published, permission or rights to include copyright material in the published version is required.

Regarding copyright in your own original work, the conference organisers will need to get your permission before publishing your paper. They should be able to provide you with a written agreement or consent form, make sure this is read carefully.

For more information, see the Publishing strategy guide : 

International conferences

When presenting at a conference in another country, the copyright laws for that country apply. The conference organisers should be able to provide information on any local copyright restrictions and obligations, and any plans to publish the papers or record the presentations.

conference presentation copyright

UNSW staff and students can contact [email protected] for assistance with a copyright query or to arrange a copyright information session.

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Attending a Conference?

If you are planning to attend a conference, there are several things you may wish to consider in order to ensure that your presentation is copyright compliant.

Where does your conference take place? Is it taking place at Dalhousie, before an audience of mainly students and faculty members? In that case you can rely on Dalhousie’s Fair Dealing Guidelines in constructing slides or handouts. Similarly, you could rely on exemptions in the Copyright Act regarding the screening of audio-visual materials and sound recordings. See our “For Faculty” page for more information on these: http://libraries.dal.ca/services/copyright-office.html

If your conference takes place outside of Dalhousie, or before the general public, you may not be able to use the educational exemption for Fair Dealing. However, the concept of Fair Dealing could still apply to these instances of copying, but a separate fair dealing analysis must be undertaken to ensure compliance with the Copyright Act . For assistance with this analysis, please email us at [email protected] . Of course, if Fair Dealing is not available, permission from the copyright owner can always be sought.

It is important to note that if you are invited to attend a conference in another country (i.e., the United States) and plan to incorporate copyrighted material into your presentation, you are bound by the laws of the country you are presenting in. For instance, in Canada material generally enters the public domain (copyright “expires”) 50 years after the death of the author, but in other countries the term is longer (70 years or more). So material you may use here without permission because it is in the public domain may still be copyrighted in other countries.

Also, you, as the presenter, own the copyright in any materials you create for your presentation, as well as in your presentation or lecture itself. You may wish to attach a Creative Commons notice to your slides, or a Copyright statement, in order to reinforce this ownership.

Organizing a conference? What do you need to think of?

If you are organizing a conference it is important to take a few considerations into account beforehand.

If you wish to broadcast or record and upload the conference presentations online, it is important to remember that the presenters own the copyright in their presentations (both their slides and their talks), and permission to do these activities should be sought. As well, if you plan to publish conference proceedings, it is equally important to obtain permission from the presenters (and if, as a presenter, you are asked to sign any such document, please refer to our page on retaining your copyright: http://libraries.dal.ca/services/copyright-office/for-faculty/retaining-copyright.html ).

As well, it may be a good idea to remind presenters, especially those from other countries that if they use copyrighted material in their presentation it must be done in keeping with Canadian copyright law (either obtain permission, or make use of a specific exemption). A simple statement on the conference webpage, or as part of an email to presenters can help with this. Please contact the Copyright Office ( [email protected] ) for help with or suggestions on drafting such statements.

The information on this page is presented for informational purposes only, and does not constitute legal advice. If you require legal advice about copyright, you should always consult an Intellectual Property lawyer.


We'd be happy to help out. Please send us your copyright questions and comments.

Dalhousie Libraries Copyright Office website is licensed under a  Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License .

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conference presentation copyright

Copyright and research

There are many ways that copyright can affect the publication or release of research work. Copyright affects the release of theses or dissertations, when third-party material is included within the research work. Copyright must also be considered when researchers are working on author agreements with publishers. Understanding how copyright intersects with research is a valuable skill throughout the different stages of a research plan.

☜ Use the side menu to navigate through the copyright and research topics.

There are many things to consider before choosing a publishing outlet. It is important to understand publishing agreements, licensing options and how to retain rights as an author. Resources across the University can assist in making informed publishing decisions.

Publishing checklist

Consider the following before deciding on a publishing agreement:

  • Authorship management
  • Third-party copyright clearance
  • Finding the right publication outlet
  • Funder requirements ( Open Access mandates )
  • Sharing associated research outputs where possible (e.g data, code or software)
  • Indigenous cultural and intellectual property rights
  • Commercial and IP considerations
  • The terms of the publishing agreement
  • Licensing options to encourage reuse

Understanding publishing agreements

Authors and publishers will generally have a publishing agreement (sometimes referred to as an author or licence agreement) in place when a work is published. As a copyright holder, it is important to be aware of available publishing agreements, look for publishing agreements that best suit current and future dissemination needs. This will help when deciding on a suitable publisher and will help when needing to negotiate further publishing needs.

Publishing agreements vary between publishers and will also vary depending on the type of work, e.g:  book, book chapter, journal article, conference paper, etc. Publishing agreements will also be impacted by the type of licensing scheme attached to the publication, such as, Open Access or behind a paywall.

A publishing agreement will generally cover information such as:

  • When the work will be published
  • The format the work will be published in (print or online or both)
  • How many print copies will be made available
  • If the author is entitled to any royalties, how they will be shared between the author and publisher, payment terms, etc.

The agreement will also address how copyright in the work will be managed.

Within a publishing agreement, authors are generally asked to warrant:

  • Ownership of the work and therefore ownership of the copyright.
  • Disclosure of the inclusion of any third-party copyright material (i.e. created by someone else), alongside clarification regarding permissions from the third-party for the material to be included in the completed work.
  • That the work contains no libelous or unlawful statements, does not infringe upon the rights or privacy of others and does not contain material or instructions that might cause harm or injury.

There are a number of ways in which copyright can be dealt with under an agreement, some of which are more common in certain disciplines or types of published works than others. Speak with peers, colleagues, faculty research offices and or  faculty or school librarian for further information on discipline-specific publishing agreements.

Negotiating author rights

Authors and creators of works are entitled to negotiate certain rights with a publisher. These may include:

  • The right to deposit an Open Access copy of the work in an institutional repository (with or without an embargo period)
  • Exemptions for teaching and educational purposes
  • The right to reuse figures, images, and tables from the work in future publications.

Funder requirements can be useful when negotiating changes in publishing agreements. For example, if a published work is funded by a research grant associated with the Australian Research Council (ARC) or the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) then an open access copy of the work must be made available to read within 12 months of publication. Flag this requirement as early as possible so as to ensure that the publishing agreement aligns with funder policies.

Remember that negotiations with publishers may not go as planned. However, there is nothing to lose by having these conversations. For an insight into the negotiation of author rights, read more in this interview with Associate Professor Alysia Blackham from Melbourne Law School.

The Authors Alliance website offers many resources on publication contracts and rights reversion, including the Open Access ebook “ Understanding and negotiating book publication contracts ”.

Author assigns copyright to the publisher (copyright transfer agreement)

Generally, when publishing a book, the author grants the publisher a licence. Whereas it is common for authors to assign copyright in journal articles to the journal or publisher. This is a copyright transfer agreement, where the author grants all of their rights as author and copyright holder to the publisher. This means that the author may need to seek permission from the publisher to do any of the following:

  • Deposit an Open Access version into an institutional repository.
  • Make the published work available on their own website.
  • Share the published work with colleagues.
  • Teach the published work.

Sometimes, the publisher may grant the author limited rights, such as those described above. Assignment of copyright is generally permanent unless the agreement indicates otherwise.

If the author assigns copyright to the publisher; the publisher can also, at their discretion, enter into agreements with other parties to use the work. For example, the publisher could licence the work, so that it can be included in a subscription database or arrange for a translation to be made.

See example contract

Author grants publisher an exclusive licence

The author gives the publisher certain rights over their material for the term of the agreement. These rights are granted only to this publisher and might include the right to publish, communicate, and distribute the published work online and to sublicence. How long the agreement lasts can vary, some agreements can be indefinite or perpetual. If the licence includes the right to sublicence, the publisher can grant the rights given to them to a third party, for example to allow another publisher to publish the work in another territory. While the agreement is in place, the author cannot grant the same rights to anyone else.

Author grants publisher a non-exclusive licence

Similar to granting an exclusive licence to the publisher, an author can also grant the same non-exclusive rights to another publisher or party. A non-exclusive licence means that more than one publisher could have the right to publish a work. However, there may be qualifiers within these licenses, such as confirming that one publisher has the right to first publication of the work.

Publishing under a Creative Commons licence

If a publisher intends to publish the work under an open licence, typically a Creative Commons licence, then the work will be made freely available for further distribution under the terms of the licence. The publisher will likely ask for first publication rights, this may be under a non-exclusive or exclusive publishing agreement. If publishing under a more restrictive CC licence such as CC BY-NC-ND, the publisher may request that the remaining rights be exclusively signed over to them. In rare cases, publishers may also ask for a transfer of copyright to the publisher. To understand more about Creative Commons licences, see our page selecting a licence for your work .

There is no publishing agreement

Some publishers do not use publishing agreements, in which case, they only have the right to publish the work for the purpose it was submitted. For example, if an author submits an article to a particular journal and there is no agreement in place, the publisher can only publish the article in the issue for which it was submitted. The publisher is not then able to re-publish the article in an annual collection of popular articles without the permission of the author.

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More information.

  • Contact the University Copyright Office

Selecting a licence for your work

Creative Commons (CC) licences allow authors to nominate how they would like people to be able to use and reuse their work. Applying a CC licence to a work, signals to others how the copyright owner would like to be attributed if their work is reused.

More information can be found at Creative Commons Australia .

Creative Commons licences

The below table provides information on what each licence means for the author and/or copyright holder, and a generic sample text that can be included in a publication.

It is best practice to include the sample text, below at the beginning of a work, so that the rights being licenced are immediately clear to anyone, wishing to reuse the work. If possible, it is also useful to include a licence statement in the information on the landing page where works are hosted.

To find out which licence you would like to allocate to a work visit the Creative Commons licence chooser .

Licences and contracts

Within the copyright context, many different licences are used for a variety of purposes and/or circumstances. A licence is generally granted by a copyright owner (or on their behalf) giving a user or a group of users some or all rights to use copyright material for certain purposes. The conditions of the licence override the standard provisions of copyright legislation and users must always adhere to the stated conditions of the licence. Some of the different types of licences include:

Statutory licences (for educational purposes)

These are licences that are provided within the Copyright Act for use by certain groups for certain purposes. The most relevant for the University are the statutory licences for educational purposes. These are set up under Section 113P of the Act, and allow the University to copy and communicate copyright material for educational purposes.

Music licence

This is a licence between the Universities and the Music Collecting Societies of Australia that allows limited use of recorded music for educational purposes. For more information see the music licence .

Licensed databases

The University Library subscribes to a vast array of online information, such as databases and electronic journals. Each of these subscriptions is underpinned by a licence or a contract between the University and the database provider. The licence or contract will outline how the database can be used and by whom. Conditions of the licence for individual databases vary considerably. If using information from a licensed Library database for any purpose other than research or study, please contact the Copyright Office for advice.

Terms and conditions of use

Many websites, media items (CDs, DVDs, podcasts, software etc.) and printed publications contain a copyright statement or disclaimer and/or 'Terms and Conditions' statement which provide details of the permitted uses of the material. These terms and conditions should be strictly adhered to.

Creative Commons

Creative Commons is a way to licence copyright material, so that people can use this material in certain ways without having to seek permission. The licences allow the public to use material free of charge under the varying levels of restrictions that are outlined in the six standardised licences. Flickr.com - the popular photo sharing website - is an example of a web service using Creative Commons licences. Research these licences before applying them, so as to understand how the licences work and if they will work for any future iterations of any proposed research/works.

General waiver

Sometimes a copyright owner waives copyright by saying, for example, that their material may be freely used for any purposes, or for non-profit purposes only, etc.

Commissioning works

When commissioning or contracting someone to create a work, it is recommended that licencing agreements explicitly state the transfer limitations of any current research requirements or foreseen research/publishing requirements or uses. Transfer requirements need to be clearly explained, understood by all parties and signed. If not laid out and signed clearly the rights to the commissioned works could be owned by the creator, regardless of who paid for the work. The person commissioning the work may have an implied licence unless the contract/licence assigns copyright to someone else. The contract/licence may also specify when and how the work will be used. For information contact the Copyright Office or the Legal and Risk team.

For more information see Australian Copyright Council Information Sheet G024 Assigning & Licensing Rights .

Copyright and your thesis

Researchers own copyright in their thesis. Under copyright, researchers have certain rights in their thesis such as:

  • reproduction rights.
  • publishing rights.
  • communication rights, such as making the thesis available online.

As authors, researchers also have moral rights over their theses.

In some cases, research agreements or publishing agreements may affect the rights of a researcher's work, such as determining if a thesis can be made available on open access or if a thesis is connected to an embargo period.

Making a thesis available on open access

Before making a thesis available on open access, check that there are no legal or contractual qualifiers connected to the planned Open Access material release. Below are some possible examples:

  • The clearance of any third-party material rights when they are included in the thesis.
  • Any agreements/contracts, involving pre-published works.
  • Any pending patent applications.
  • The terms of research or funding agreements.
  • The inclusion of any politically or legally sensitive information.

Dealing with copyright material created by other people

Seek permission from the copyright owner before including third-party copyright material in a thesis, unless there is a licence, agreement or exception that allows the inclusion of the third-party works in the thesis. Permission does not need to be sought if:

  • Copyright in the work has  expired .
  • An  insubstantial portion is included, for example, quotes from a book or journal article. Be careful if using quotes or excerpts from short works such as songs, poems or pieces of music as small portions are less likely to be considered insubstantial.
  • An express  license allows the inclusion of the work, in the thesis, e.g. a contract, website conditions.
  • Creative Commons material, copyright owner has explicitly waived copyright, etc.
  • Use is covered under  fair dealing provisions .

Particular care should be taken if the thesis includes music, sound recordings or films as clearing the rights for this material can be difficult.

If unable to clear the rights for third party copyright material, it may be possible to publish a redacted version of the thesis on open access. A redacted version is one with any uncleared copyright material removed. For more information see the section on redacted version of your thesis.

Make sure that all third-party copyright material is acknowledged in theses, include full bibliographic citations.

Seeking permission to use copyright material

It is important to start the process of obtaining permission, as soon as possible when seeking permission to clear the rights to use third-party copyright material. Obtaining permission is an often lengthy and complex process. Sometimes a licensing fee may have to be paid, as it may not be possible to obtain permission.

All permission requests must be in writing. Keep copies of all permission documents as records of what permissions have been obtained. These records are considered legal documents and need to be kept for the copyright length of the thesis or as long as the thesis remains in open access. The University may request access to these permission documents.

Theses may need to be embargoed or published in redacted versions, where the third -party material has been removed while permission is being obtained or because permission cannot be obtained.

Refer to the Requesting permission from a copyright owner to reproduce material page for information on how to seek permission to use third-party copyright material.

Listing third party copyright material

The preparation of graduate research theses' rules requires the listing of all third-party copyright material included in theses and whether permissions from the copyright owners has been obtained. These permissions will be included in any open access version of theses. Third-party copyright includes:

  • Audio-visual material, including sound recordings – both musical and non-musical – or films.

When creating the list of third-party copyright material included in a thesis, please use the template for listing third party copyright material (DOCX 13.5 KB) .

Conferences and public lectures

Presenting at a conference.

If including third-party copyright, within a conference presentation make sure that rights to use the material are secured prior to the conference. There are limited provisions in the Copyright Act that allows the reuse of copyright material at conferences. A brief quote or short extract of text can be included without have to secure rights; see insubstantial portions . Also, rights do not have to be secured for material that is being critiqued or reviewed; see fair dealing for criticism or review .

Try and source material that is "copyright friendly". For example, Flickr has a wide range of photos licensed under Creative Commons, as does Google Images. See the following guides:

  • Flickr and Creative Commons images
  • Google images and Creative Commons images

In most other situations permission from the copyright owner will have to be sought. When seeking permission clarify any potential uses, such as the intention to publish the conference paper or to upload the conference paper into an online environment.  Check with conference organisers if they plan to do any of the above or if they plan to record or stream the presentation. If presenters plan to do any of the above and third-party material is included in these presentation methods, permission will have to be sought from the third-party copyright holder explicitly stating how the material is going to be used, prior to the conference.

Additionally, presenters at conference have performers' rights if they are asked to record, stream or upload their presentations onto platforms.  Request a written explanation of how a recording will be used at a conference, before agreeing to be involved. Ideally there will be a formal agreement that presenters are asked to sign.

Organising a conference

If the University is hosting a conference, it is important that steps are taken to make sure that the conference is copyright compliant.

Obtain permission from presenters if there are requirements to record, upload or stream performances or if there is a requirement to upload their papers. The University's audio/video/photograph release and IP licence form can be used. The consent deed also allows the recording to be made available online.

Consent will need to be obtained If intending to film or photograph participants or presenters. The audio/video/photograph release and IP licence form covers both filming and photographing. The photo release consent deed is sufficient if only photographing the presenters. See the Copyright site's  photographing or filming people page for more information.

If conference presenters have included copyright material created by other people in their presentation, they will need to make sure that they have the necessary rights to use that material. There are limited provisions in the Copyright Act that covers the reusing of third-party copyright material at conferences however, permission is generally required from the copyright owner. See insubstantial portions and fair dealing for criticism and review .

Permission will need to be obtained from the presenters prior to the uploading or publishing of conference presentation papers, videos, etc.  Please contact the Copyright Office for more information.

The University has a music licence that allows music to be performed at conferences and other events hosted by the University. For more information see the music licence.

If an external conference has hired a University venue for their conference and the University is not actually hosting the conference but is simply providing the venue, it is the responsibility of the conference organisers to ensure that they comply with copyright. Contact the Copyright Office for assistance with this.

Protecting your work

In Australia, copyright material is subject to copyright as soon as it is created. While the author or creator does not have to do anything to gain copyright, it is advisable to make copyright ownership and any reuse conditions clear to others.

Below is a list of ways that will assist in clarifying copyright ownership and clarifying the reuse limitations around the material.

Include a copyright statement on works

A copyright statement is usually the copyright symbol - a lower case c in a circle, the name of the copyright owner (who may or may not be the author) and the year the work was created, e.g. © J. Smith 2010 or © University of Melbourne 2022.

A copyright statement alerts people to the fact that the work is subject to copyright and therefore, there may be restrictions in how to reuse the material.

The University owns Intellectual Property (IP) created by staff in the course of, or incidental to, employment with the University, except copyright in Scholarly Works. For further details see the University’s Intellectual Property policy .

Provide a full bibliographic citation

A full bibliographic citation will provide people with citation information and show them how to cite the work. Citing work isn’t just for published, peer reviewed research, it can be applicable to websites, blogs, images, and many other types of outputs. Check the University of Melbourne citation style guide to find a suitable style.

Include works in the UOM repository

Submit a version of research with author details to the UOM repository, this will create a formal record, that will verify copyright ownership of the research work. Include metadata associated with the work and   assign a Creative Commons licence to the work so people know how to reuse the work. Many repositories also generate a full bibliographic citation (as discussed above) based on the provided information.

Such repositories include:

  • Melbourne.Figshare
  • OpenScienceFramework
  • Humanities Commons.

Include instructions for people who wish to contact the copyright owner for permission to include or reuse excerpts of a work

By providing an email address or contact details people will be more inclined to contact the copyright owner to ask for permission.

Consider further impact and outreach potential for copyright

Copyright works have the potential to be translated, in ways that will have further impacts in societies, cultures, the environment, policy and other areas. Consider alternate pathways for works, the potential benefits that can come about due to the research, within the work.  The impact of works within different sectors. Thinking in this way will help with the conceptualisation of how a work might be translated. If extra support is needed on exploring the commercial concepts around a work contact Research, Innovation and Commercialisation, (RIC ). RIC can provide advise on potential business uses for IP and can also advise on commercialisation of IP.

Copyright infringement

Action can be taken against an individual or an organisation if they are responsible for infringing copyright. Clarify that the use of work is actually an infringement, before taking action as there are provisions in the Copyright Act that allow people to use copyright material without needing permission.

If the University of Melbourne is the copyright owner of the allegedly infringed work , seek assistance through the Copyright Office.

If you are the copyright owner issue a takedown notice or contact independent legal advice.

If copyright has been transferred to a publisher, then any infringement should be pursued by the publisher.

Basic principles of copyright

What is copyright, duration of copyright, ownership of copyright, copyright ownership at the university of melbourne, rights of copyright owners, students' introduction to copyright, types of copyright material, literary works, performances, artistic works, sound recordings and radio broadcasts, computer software and games, films and television broadcasts, dramatic works, musical works, using copyright material, adapting copyright material, insubstantial portions, copyright friendly images, identifying infringing material, the music licence, public events, photographing or filming people, fair dealing, personal use, citing material, moral rights and citing material.

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General Policies In order to maximize the value of IEEE publications to authors, users and the IEEE, the following IEEE copyright policies shall be applied throughout the IEEE: 1. IEEE shall serve and protect the interests of its authors and their employers. 2. All technical, educational and professional publications of the IEEE, except newsletters, but including Society and Technical Council Newsletters, are required to be copyrighted by the IEEE. 3. Copyright shall be held by the IEEE and not any of its organizational units. 4. The Intellectual Property Rights Office is responsible for the administration of all IEEE copyright matters under these policies and the procedures which shall be specified in the PSPB Operations Manual. This includes obtaining the copyright registration, handling reprint and republication requests, maintaining copyright records, and administering fees when appropriate. The Intellectual Property Rights Office may, at its discretion, delegate some or all of its copyright implementation responsibilities to other IEEE departments if they have significant publishing activity, subject to procedures approved by a member of the IEEE staff, as designated by the Executive Director. 5. Third-Party Rights to Reuse IEEE-Copyrighted Material. Licenses and permissions to use IEEE copyrighted material (abstracts, full text, etc.) for commercial or other non-IEEE related purposes may be granted under terms approved by the IEEE Publication Services and Products Board. 6. Fees for the reuse of IEEE material are appropriate for contributing to the cost of original publication, especially where the reuse involves the republication of material, or any commercial uses. 7. Prior to publication by the IEEE, all authors or their employers shall transfer to the IEEE in writing any copyright they hold for their individual papers. Such transfer shall be a necessary requirement for publication, except for material in the public domain or which is reprinted with permission from a copyrighted publication.  8. In return for the transfer of authors’ rights, the IEEE shall grant authors and their employers’ permission to make copies and otherwise reuse the material under terms approved by the Board of Directors which shall be specified in the PSPB Operations Manual. 9. After IEEE accepts the work for publication and the copyright has been transferred, changes or revisions to the work shall not be made without further review and approval. 10. For jointly sponsored conferences, which might require special copyright arrangements, those arrangements shall be made in accordance with the procedures which shall be specified in the PSPB Operations Manual. 11. Copyrighting Electronic Information shall follow the electronic information dissemination procedures, which shall be specified in the PSPB Operations Manual. 12. The PSPB or its authorized designee shall consider the allowance of any exceptions to these Copyright policies.  

8.1.4 IEEE Copyright Policy and Procedures (from the PSPB Operations Manual)

A. General principles of IEEE copyright policies and procedures

1. Enhancing the accessibility, distribution and use of information is a major objective of the IEEE publication program, limited only by the requirements of viability and professional propriety.

2. To meet this objective and control the use of its good name, the IEEE is obligated to secure copyright ownership of the material it publishes.

3. In exercising its rights under copyright, the IEEE recognizes that it is acting in part to serve and protect the interests of its authors and their employers.

4. Fees for the reuse of IEEE material are appropriate for contributing to the cost of original publication, especially where the reuse involves a license to copy, or allows resale, or is of a magnitude that would tend to reduce subscription or other sales income.

5. Copyright policies shall be consistently applied throughout IEEE.

B. Ownership and rights of IEEE copyrighted material 

1. Copyright is held by IEEE itself and not any of its Organizational Units.

2. All technical, educational and professional publications of the IEEE, except newsletters, but including Society and Technical Council Newsletters and e-Newsletters, are required to be copyrighted by the IEEE.

3. Prior to publication by the IEEE, all authors or their employers shall transfer to the IEEE in writing any copyright they hold for their individual papers. Such transfer shall be a necessary requirement for publication, except for material in the public domain or which is reprinted from a copyrighted publication.

4. In return for the transfer of authors’ rights, the IEEE shall grant authors and their employers permission to make copies and otherwise reuse the material under terms approved by the Board of Directors.

5. In the case of jointly sponsored conferences, IEEE recognizes the right of another qualified sponsor to hold the copyright and administer all copyright matters on behalf of the IEEE and its author, provided, however, that such right shall be the subject of a written agreement between IEEE and the qualified sponsor. A conference is not considered a sponsor and may not hold a copyright to IEEE material, except in the case of a conference which is incorporated and maintains its own permanent administrative office.

6. Licenses and permissions to copy or republish IEEE material may be granted under terms approved by PSPB.

C. Implementation of IEEE copyright policy

1. The Editor or conference publication committee chair shall be responsible for obtaining the written transfer of author rights and for forwarding appropriate confirmations to the Intellectual Property Rights Office. A form for effecting the interchange of rights with the author per Sections 8.1.4.B.3 and 8.1.4.B.4 form shall be supplied by PSPB or its authorized representative. The wording used on the form shall be approved by PSPB or its authorized representative.

2. For journals and conference publications, an appropriate copyright notice shall appear on the first page of each technical contribution to simplify and facilitate reuse of individual articles.

3. Should the need for isolated exceptions to any of the above policies and procedures arise, PSPB or its authorized representative is authorized to deal with them on a case-by-case basis.

Also see the Electronic Information Dissemination .

Purdue Online Writing Lab Purdue OWL® College of Liberal Arts

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 .

Home Blog Business Conference Presentation Slides: A Guide for Success

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.

conference presentation copyright

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 or your company’s digital business card , 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!

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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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