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How to Create Professional-Looking Slides with a Slide Presentation Maker
Creating a professional-looking slide presentation can be a daunting task. There are many different software programs available, and each one has its own set of features and capabilities. Fortunately, there is an easier way to create professional-looking slides: using a slide presentation maker. A slide presentation maker is an online tool that allows you to quickly and easily create stunning slides with minimal effort. Here are some tips on how to use a slide presentation maker to create professional-looking slides.
Choose the Right Template
The first step in creating professional-looking slides is to choose the right template. Most slide presentation makers offer a variety of templates that you can choose from. These templates are designed to make it easy for you to create slides that look great and are easy to read. When choosing a template, make sure that it is appropriate for the type of presentation you are creating. For example, if you are creating a business presentation, then you should choose a template that has a professional look and feel.
Add Visual Elements
Once you have chosen the right template, the next step is to add visual elements to your slides. Visual elements such as images, charts, and graphs can help make your slides more engaging and easier to understand. Most slide presentation makers allow you to upload images from your computer or search for images online. You can also add charts and graphs by selecting them from the library of options available in the software.
Include Animations and Transitions
Adding animations and transitions can help make your slides more dynamic and engaging. Animations can be used to draw attention to important points or highlight key information in your slides. Transitions can be used to smoothly transition between different sections of your presentation or between different slides. Most slide presentation makers offer a wide range of animations and transitions that you can use in your presentations.
Creating professional-looking slides doesn’t have to be difficult or time consuming when you use a slide presentation maker. By following these tips, you will be able to quickly and easily create stunning presentations that will impress your audience.
This text was generated using a large language model, and select text has been reviewed and moderated for purposes such as readability.
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The Pathway to Publishing: A Guide to Quantitative Writing in the Health Sciences pp 119–141 Cite as
Slide and Poster Presentations
- Stephen Luby ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0001-5385-899X 3 &
- Dorothy L. Southern 4
- Open Access
- First Online: 31 May 2022
Presenting scientific work in a verbal presentation supplemented with slides or as a poster presentation is a valuable way to disseminate your work and to receive feedback that can be helpful in framing a manuscript. Slide and poster presentations emphasize visual communication. Avoid mind-numbing bulleted statements that provide a detailed outline that the presenter reads. Instead, consider how to communicate your ideas visually, how to illustrate the problem that the work engages, how you addressed it, and what you found. Steps you can take to improve your visual presentations include avoiding distracting chart junk and common distracting chart features like three-dimensional figures that do not provide any additional information in the third dimension or using a vertical bar chart that squeezes the title for each bar to the point that it is difficult to read. Clear presentations invite audience engagement and more useful feedback on your work.
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1 Bullets on the Wall
Bullets on the wall are slides that present a detailed outline of the talk as bullet points that are projected on the screen/poster board. In the days before slides and screen protectors, speakers commonly used an outline as a prompt to help remember the key points of their talk. A written outline of the ideas that you want to cover in a talk remains a useful aid to a complete and coherent presentation, especially if you are speaking without slides. However, projecting a detailed outline of your talk on the wall, and then talking through the points bullet by bullet, or even worse, reading them directly to the audience, is a misuse of the verbal presentation format and a huge turnoff to the audience.
Do you like attending oral presentations where bullets are projected on the wall and the speaker reads them to you? When a Fortune 500 company has a new product to advertise, do they use a bulleted list to communicate its attributes to potential customers? Of course not. We are drawn to engaging speakers and engaging presentations. One of the roles of a scientist is to communicate her/his findings and ideas so that a broader audience considers them, so it affects the audience’s understanding and impacts serious discussions.
A verbal presentation is an opportunity to leverage a range of your interpersonal skills to communicate your ideas with your audience. For centuries, people have made compelling oral presentations without visual aids. The slides that support an oral presentation should be constructed to reinforce your communication objectives, so it helps the audience understand the ideas you are presenting. Bullets after bullets after bullets bore an audience. This is a recipe for losing the audience’s attention and failing to meet your communication objectives (Figs. 9.1.1 and 9.1.2 ).
Opening slides for an influenza surveillance talk with too many bullets
An alternative opening slide for an influenza surveillance talk that communicates to the audience why this is a compelling issue
2 Using Sentences for Bullet Points
Bullet points should be terse summaries that help the audience follow your key points. They should not be full sentences or paragraphs that you read. Full sentences and paragraphs are appropriate for scientific writing, but it is mind-numbingly boring to have full sentence after full sentence projected with the speaker reading the sentences to the audience. The average audience member can read such sentences three to five times faster than the presenter can speak them, so this is not an efficient method to communicate. It is a misuse of a verbal presentation opportunity.
Posters are meant to be read, and so somewhat longer lines of text can be used than in a verbal presentation, but ideas that break down into sections should still be presented as brief bullet points so people can quickly grasp the structure of the ideas (Figs. 9.2.1 , 9.2.2 , 9.2.3 , and 9.2.4 ).
Sentences making minimal use of visual organization of ideas
Ideas organized as bullets. This would also accommodate a nice picture of a clean toilet which would further enhance communication
Paragraph-like bullet from a draft poster
Information recast as quick-to-read organized bullets
3 Too Much Space Between Bullets
Oftentimes, PowerPoint inserts substantial space between lines of text. This can occur both as too much space between lines within a bullet as well as too much space between bullets. All of this white space reduces the amount of space for communication and forces smaller font sizes that becomes difficult or impossible to read, especially from the back of the room.
These spacing issues can be addressed by using the paragraph features of PowerPoint. Set the line spacing to single, and make spacing before and after small (e.g., <6 pt.). Another strategy to modify space between bullets is to insert a line with a single letter of text. Color the text the same color as the background, and adjust the font size to something small that optimizes spacing (Figs. 9.3.1 , 9.3.2 , 9.3.3 , and 9.3.4 ).
Lots of white space not well used that limits font size
Reorganization of slide redistributes white space to better group and communicate ideas. Animation features could be used so that the top of the slide appear first and the data analysis section appears when the presenter clicks
So much space between the bullets that the list stretches across two slides
Same bullets with reasonable spacing between fit on a single slide
4 Using Bullets Without Hanging Indents
Bullets help to format text so that it is clear there are a series of points. They improve readability of narrative. It is easiest to see the difference between points when a hanging indent is used on subsequent lines so that the separation between ideas is clear. In addition, a slightly larger spacing between points in contrast to lines within points further makes this separation easier to see and read (Figs. 9.4.1 , 9.4.2 and 9.4.3 ).
Bullets Without Hanging Indent (the Common Error)
Bullets with Hanging Indent
Bullets with Hanging Indent, Single Space Within Points, with 1.2 Spaces Between Lines, and a More Horizontal Layout
5 Chart Junk
In his classic book, The Visual Display of Quantitative Information , Edward Tufte defines chart junk as visual elements in charts and graphs that are not necessary to comprehend the information represented, or that distract the viewer from this information. Among the worst promoters of chart junk are institutions that want all slides to have a common look that advertises the institution. These objectives run counter to clear communication. Clear communication will better promote a scientist and their institution’s reputation compared with tacky backgrounds that obstruct and detract. Clear, large, and simple is the most effective pathway to clear visual communication. If your institution insists on a stylized template, we recommend using it only on the opening and closing slides (Figs. 9.5.1 and 9.5.2 ).
A slide from a presentation using a template requested from the study funder designed to give credit to funders and a uniform look to the presentation
A cleaner presentation of the slide with chart junk and extraneous information removed to permit attention to the key communication objectives
6 Using Three-Dimensional Chart Features as Decorations
Figures are used to connect to the visual centers of human perception and so improve communication of your quantitative results. Adding three dimensions to charts adds complexity. This complexity should only be invoked if it improves communication of the data. Otherwise, this three-dimensional imagery is chart junk (Error 9.5 ) that risk distracting the audience. Strive for minimalist elegant images that communicate without distraction (Figs. 9.6.1 , 9.6.2 , and 9.6.3 ).
Three dimensions used as uninformative chart junk
Simpler cleaner chart
Three-dimensional features used to support data communication
7 Using a Pie Chart
For a scientific presentation, simple pie charts are best avoided. It is safe to assume that a scientific audience understands percentage without having it illustrated. That is, they don’t need an illustration to appreciate that 25% is one quarter of a pie.
Pie charts made using the default features of PowerPoint are particularly bad. In the PowerPoint pie chart, the reader has to jump back and forth between the pie and the legend to sort out what the particular proportion represents. This requirement that the reader decodes adds another cognitive task that detracts from simple communication. It invites the audience to focus attention on decoding your graphic at the expense of listening to what you are saying. If there is a compelling reason for a pie chart, use labeling that avoids a legend (Figs. 9.7.1 and 9.7.2 ).
Default pie chart from PowerPoint. It is both underinformative and requires decoding
Easier to interpret visualization of data from Fig. 9.16 . The labels are right next to the numbers. No decoding required
An exception to the rule of avoiding a pie chart is when a comparison between two groups or a breakdown of a subgroup of a pie provides a useful illustration that engages the audience’s visual understanding to interpret patterns in the data (Figs. 9.7.3 and 9.7.4 ).
An illustrative pie chart that effectively embeds additional meaning and communicates effectively
A comparative pie chart that supports a visual understanding of a distribution
8 Using Vertical Bars When Horizontal Bars Would Communicate Better
Vertical bar charts are commonly used default formats in PowerPoint, but they are often not the best way to present data. If a useful description of the characteristic being presented is long, it is difficult to read in the constrained space or at an odd angle at the bottom of a slide. A horizontal bar allows more space and larger font to facilitate quick communication (Figs. 9.8.1 , 9.8.2 , and 9.8.3 ).
Vertical bar chart with long labels. Note that the titles do not align intuitively with the bars. Our eyes are not accustomed to reading across odd angles
Vertical bar chart with multiline descriptions. These are often small and difficult to read
Simpler, easier to read horizontal bar chart
PowerPoint is quirky. In many versions of PowerPoint, the order of appearance of the horizontal bars is directly counterintuitive. That is, when you construct the data table, the first variable you enter displays at the bottom of the chart, and the bottom variable is at the top. You can simply reverse the order in the data table to have it present according to what aligns best with your communication objectives.
9 Copying a Manuscript Figure Instead of Developing a Custom Figure
Constructing high-quality slides to support a verbal presentation requires considerable thought, creativity, and time. It might save time to use figures developed by others in your own presentation. Especially when you are reporting information from other research groups, it is quite tempting to copy directly from their manuscripts or, if you have access, to their slides. The drawback to this approach is that visual presentations used for one speaker in one context often have a somewhat different role in your own presentation. Copying and pasting someone else’s work (even if appropriately attributed) is often not the best way to achieve your communication objective.
Each slide should be integrated with the narrative and communication objectives of your presentation and should be designed to help the audience succinctly understand your ideas. A visual presentation is quite different from reading a manuscript. Figures or tables in the manuscript can include more detail because the reader can take the time to work carefully through these details. By contrast, the pace of an oral presentation is quicker, and so the supporting information should be presented more simply in a clear format that the audience can intuitively grasp. If you find yourself saying “I apologize for the messiness of the slide, but I want to focus on this one issue . . .” or “This is hard to read, but. .. ,” this is a message to yourself that the slide needs to be revised. Remove the messiness. Clearly communicate the one issue to the audience and jettison the apology (Figs. 9.9.1 and 9.9.2 ).
Slide developed by lifting a table from a manuscript
Custom graphic derived from the table to communicate key messages to an audience. Note the elimination of most of the numbers, the removal of the confusing nonstandard abbreviation, yet noting the countries that were actually included
10 Photos with an Unnatural Aspect Ratio
Digital photography allows us to insert engaging photographs into our presentations. Often, to make the text fit more neatly with the photograph, we adjust the size of the photograph, but sometimes inadvertently we also affect the aspect ratio. The aspect ratio is the ratio of the width to the height. If the ratio of the width to the height is changed, the photograph appears distorted. This is particularly common when using PowerPoint and resizing the image by clicking and dragging. Below is the same photograph with three different aspect ratios (Figs. 9.10.1 , 9.10.2 , and 9.10.3 ).
The photographic subjects have been squeezed. That is, the horizontal aspect ratio is too small compared with the vertical
Here the photograph has been stretched horizontally
This is the photograph as taken by the camera
Changing the aspect ratio distorts the picture and makes readers wonder whether the photographic subjects are oddly disproportioned. To make a photograph fit within a space, consider careful cropping and selecting the right size, but don’t change the aspect ratio. You may also need a photograph with a different orientation. When combining text and photographs on a PowerPoint slide, vertically oriented photographs generally use the space better and are easier seen from the back of the room. Encourage your field team to compose photographic subjects that work well with a vertical orientation.
One way to avoid distorted aspect ratios is to use the insert function on MS Word or MS PowerPoint to directly insert the file rather than using copy and paste. You can then adjust the size of the photograph by right-clicking on the photograph, select size and position, ensure that the “lock aspect ratio” box is checked, and then change the size of the photograph by incrementing the height or width using the arrow keys.
11 Too Many Photographs on a Single Slide
Context is critical for communicating public health scientific results. Many people in the audience will never have visited communities similar to where your study was conducted or understand the local practices and conditions. Photographs can communicate to an audience the situation that gave rise to the issue of public health interest and the people who are at risk through visual pathways that complement spoken description and written text.
A common saying asserts that a picture is worth 1000 words. Especially in an oral presentation when timing is strictly limited, an extra 1000 words to communicate your study is a huge asset. However, we would slightly modify the saying. That is, one good picture is worth 1000 words. A good picture illustrates your point and is easily seen by your audience. A plethora of pictures risks being distracting because they are too small to see by the half of your audience who are sitting in the back half of the room. Moreover, multiple pictures mean multiple messages, and so the audience may be focusing on trying to figure out what is in each of the tiny pictures, rather than listening to your verbal presentation (Figs. 9.11.1 and 9.11.2 ).
Slide cluttered with too many photos
The photograph is large enough that the audience can see the fieldworker measuring the child’s upper arm
12 Fieldworkers as the Dominant Subject of Photographs
We cannot usually afford to include professional photographers on our field teams to capture images of the context where we work. Consequently, we depend upon fieldworkers or other members of the study team to take pictures that can be used to communicate context to our audience. Fieldworkers, however, are often particularly interested in pictures of the field team. Although this is occasionally a useful complement to a verbal presentation, photographs that illustrate the conditions as experienced by the target population are generally much more useful. We recommend specifying to the photographers on your team the photographic subjects that you are particularly interested in. Verbal presentations are often presented to audiences who have never been in the country or seen the conditions where the work was conducted, so photographs that provide an evocative illustration of these contexts are particularly useful to improve audience understanding (Figs. 9.12.1 and 9.12.2 ).
Photograph of a water treatment device affixed to a hand pump surrounded by study personnel and men in the compound. This staged photograph displays involved workers, the device, and some information on context but does not show the device actually being used, nor does it include women who are the primary caretakers of household water
This photograph shows women working with a compromised water supply near an open drain. It illustrates the cramped surrounding and the proximity of supply water to contamination
13 Including a Final “Thank You” Slide
Having your final slide say “Thank You” (presumably to the audience for their attention), often accompanied by an illustration that is irrelevant to the theme of your talk, is common in some contexts. Such slides are less common in an international scientific forum. Indeed, they often appear out of place. The gratuitous graphics distract from the major communication message of your talk. Drop such slides. Your final slide should either be acknowledgments or conclusions (Fig. 9.13.1 ).
A final “Thank You” slide should be left out of the presentation
14 Failure to Separate Ideas in a Multilined Title
When typing a sentence, after producing sufficient text to fill a line, the next word appears on the next line. This works fine for sentences but is suboptimal for titles. Titles are an integral element of the visual presentation of your ideas. By thoughtfully dividing the title into natural parts, the audience can more quickly understand your message (Figs. 9.14.1 , 9.14.2 , 9.14.3 , and 9.14.4 ).
Multiline title running to the end of the line
Better title split by ideas
Default splitting of title
Improved title with ideas grouped together
Authors and affiliations.
Center for Innovation in Global Health, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA
Gosford, Oxford, Oxfordshire, UK
Dorothy L. Southern
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Correspondence to Stephen Luby .
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Luby, S., Southern, D.L. (2022). Slide and Poster Presentations. In: The Pathway to Publishing: A Guide to Quantitative Writing in the Health Sciences. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-98175-4_9
DOI : https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-98175-4_9
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Guidance and tips for effective oral and visual presentations.
Presenting your work allows you to demonstrate your knowledge and familiarity of your subject. Presentations can vary from being formal, like a mini lecture, to more informal, such as summarising a paper in a tutorial. You may have a specialist audience made up of your peers, lecturers or research practitioners or a wider audience at a conference or event. Sometimes you will be asked questions. Academic presentations maybe a talk with slides or a poster presentation, and they may be assessed. Presentations may be individual or collaborative group work.
A good presentation will communicate your main points to an audience clearly, concisely and logically. Your audience doesn’t know what it is you are trying to say, so you need to guide them through your argument.
There are a few key points that you should consider with any sort of presenting:
- What is the format? Is it a poster, a talk with visual material or a video?
- What is the purpose? Is it to summarise a topic; report the results of an experiment; justify your research approach?
- Who is your audience? Are they from your tutorial group, course or is it a wider audience?
- What content needs to be included? Do you need to cover everything, just one topic or a particular aspect? How much detail is expected?
- How should it be organised? This is often the trickiest part of designing a presentation and can take a few attempts.
Planning a presentation
Different people take different approaches to presentations. Some may start by doing some reading and research, others prefer to draft an outline structure first.
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One way to think about the content and draft a rough structure of your presentation is to divide it into a beginning, middle and end.
- The beginning: How are you going to set the scene for your audience and set out what they can expect to gain from your presentation? This section should highlight the key topic(s) and give any necessary background. How much background depends on your audience, for example your peers might need less of an introduction to a topic than other audiences. Is there a central question and is it clear? If using slides, can it be added as a header on subsequent slides so that it is always clear what you are discussing?
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- The end: What is your conclusion or summary? This section should briefly recap what has been covered in the presentation and give the audience the final take-home message(s). Think about the one thing you want someone to remember from your talk or poster. It is usually also good practice to include a reference or bibliography slide listing your sources.
Alternatively, you could start at the end and think about the one point you want your audience to take away from your presentation. Then you can work backwards to decide what needs to go in the other sections to build your argument.
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Oral presentations – practise, practise, practise!
Giving a talk can be daunting. If you have a spoken presentation to give, with or without slides, make sure you have time to rehearse it several times.
Firstly, this is really good at helping you overcome any nerves as you’ll know exactly what you are going to say. It will build your confidence.
Secondly, saying something aloud is an effective way to check for sense, structure and flow. If it is difficult to say, or doesn’t sound right, then the audience may find it difficult to follow what you are trying to say.
Finally, practising helps you know how long your presentation will take. If your presentation is being assessed, you may be penalised for going over time as that would be unfair to other presenters (it is like going over your word count).
If you can, find out what resources and equipment you will have when you present. It is usually expected that presenters will wear or use a microphone so that everyone can hear. But you will still need to remember to project your voice and speak clearly. Also think about how you are going to use your visual material.
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A poster is a way of visually conveying information about your work. It is meant to be a taster or overview highlighting your key points or findings , not an in-depth explanation and discussion. Your poster should communicate your point(s) effectively without you being there to explain it.
The trickiest thing with poster presentations can be the limited space and words you have. You will need to think critically about what it is important to present.
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Presentations and posters are a key part of any profession. They are a way to share information to clients, colleagues, or the public in a simple visual format. Learn how to organize, format, and present your presentation or poster.
Presenting vs. Writing
Presentations are meant to convey much of the same information as a written report – but that does not mean you slap some figures and quotes on some slides and it makes a good presentation. You need to think carefully about the content and what you will say versus what is in writing on the slide.
Some of the key differences in presenting vs. writing are:
- Brevity – a presentation is generally shorter than a written report. You cannot get all the information in your report to fit into a presentation – so don’t try to. What you need to do is to select only the most valuable and important information. What are you trying the communicate and what does the audience really need to know in order to make the right decisions? It’s not easy cutting out what you feel are some really cool things about your work, but if it is not something the audience needs to know then leave it out. You can always refer them to the written report (or to yourself) if there are questions.
- Display – Screen space is different than paper space. While paper tends to be black and white, on the screen you can make use of colors and even animations to make your presentation pop. But don’t get too carried away and make a wild color scheme a distraction. Also, make sure that the font is readable for the people in the back of the room (yes, people really do want to be able to read the axis of a graph). So, in general, make sure no font size less than 12pt anywhere. For text in the presentation use at least 18 pt.
- Balance of Text and Graphics – Don’t use a lot of text on your slides and don’t read your slides to the audience! If you use too much text you might as well make it a written report and then what is the point of you presenting. The text on the slides should be the most important summary information (you don’t even have to use complete sentences). Graphics are also a great way to convey information. In general, you want at least one graphic on every slide.
- Delivery – It’s not just the words you say but also how you say them. The nonverbal communication in your presentation can make a large impression on the overall quality of the presentation. Try to be calm, confident, and engaging with the audience. Make sure that your presentation helps the audience follow your train of thought and grasp the key concepts.
- Engagement – In a presentation you want to engage with the audience. This means interacting with the audience (eye contact) and providing a presentation that entices them. Often you can begin a presentation with a short “hook” that grab’s the audience’s attention (anecdote, story, questions, applicable joke, etc.). This helps to engage the audience but also can be used to express the significance of the presentation.
Organization of the Presentation
Most presentations follow a fairly standard organization listed here. However, there are cases where different organizations need to be used so be sure to know what your audience needs. In making your slides you need to make sure that each slide conveys one main point usually described by the slide title.
The first slide is usually the title slide. It does much the same job as the cover page in a written report. You should give the title of your presentation, who is presenting (and who worked on the project), and affiliations (such as the company you work for or who is sponsoring the project). While presenting the title slide (or adding another after it) you may include your “hook” to help engage the audience and grab their attention.
The next slide generally gives an outline. It does much the same job as an abstract or a table of contents in a written report. You should let the audience know where you are going. Outline the project and the results that will be presented. Don’t use a generic outline, but tailor it to your presentation.
Motivation and Objectives
The third slide generally sets the stage for the audience. Why do they want to know about what you are presenting? What are the objectives of the project? What are the questions you are going to answer? This is probably your most important slide. Make sure the information on this slide ties the rest of your presentation together (every slide should be supporting the motivation and objectives and the conclusions should answer the questions raised here).
Experimental Setup or Design Requirements
If you are reporting on the results of an experiment you can describe the apparatus and procedures as well as any standards followed. If you are presenting a design report you can describe the requirements/constraints of the design problem and design goals.
The results section simply states the results of the design or laboratory experiments. In an experimental or laboratory research presentation the results will typically consist of the results of the calculations and/or experimental data. This is where you can put in your most important tables and figures that answer your research questions/objectives. Use limited text that highlights what the audience should take away from the graphic. You can explain in your speech the details. You should also give the audience an understanding of the methods used in analyzing your experiment. In a design presentation the results typically consist of calculation work done in interpreting the design. You don’t have to show all the calculations in a presentation, but you should give the audience an understanding of how you arrived at your design.
This is the heart of your presentation. You should present what you determined in the design or learned from the experiment. In an experimental or laboratory research presentation, you should analyze your results by discussing the data and interpreting your results. State the significance of your results clearly, and compare your results with theory or other work. Be sure to use quantitative comparisons in your discussion. Indicate if the results support the underlying theory or contradict it. In a design presentation, you should highlight the main recommendations of the design or compare the design with other alternatives. This may be where you evaluate the value vs. cost of the proposed design. The audience should have a clear understanding of why this design was chosen.
Conclusions and Recommendations
Based on the data you presented to the audience tell them what they should have learned or should do with that information. These conclusions should answer the motivations presented on the third slide. Conclusions are usually presented with a bulleted list on one slide (if you can’t fit it on one slide – then you need to work on focusing your presentation and weeding out extraneous information). Recommendations can be on the same or a separate slide.
Don’t put a lot of words on your slide. Generally, slides will have fewer than 100 words (and that is only for a conclusion slide that can be more word heavy). Most slides will have only 10 to 30 words, some slides may have no words on them. Don’t use complete sentences. Rather used bulleted lists or short phrases. Do not read your slide to the audience. The point of a presentation is that you are talking to the audience, so say something they cannot read.
Follow the format suggestions for Figures, Tables, and Equations that you would use in a written report. You don’t have to number the graphics, but you do need to make sure they look good. If you did not produce the graphic be should to include a citation. Make sure all graphics appear clear and sharp. Don’t use too many graphics to too complicated of a slide. Too much will overwhelm the audience.
You may think using lots of different fonts and other visual makers makes the presentation more interesting, but the key here is to keep things simple. Use visual markers (such as bold or italic font, different colors, or arrows and stars) to highlight key information on a slide, but don’t use so many that it becomes a distraction to the audience. Also, be consistent in your use. If you use one type of arrow to highlight something, use the same arrow throughout in the same way.
One of the benefits of a presentation is that they are in color, but you want to be careful with the use of color. PowerPoint has a wide array of colorful backgrounds that seem interesting, but don’t be tempted by these. In general, the background should be light, uniform, and dull. Dark text on light simple backgrounds are easier for the audience to read. Use colors sparingly to highlight important information, such as some text in red. Be careful, some colors (like yellow) show up well on a computer monitor but do not project as well. If possible do a trial run and try projecting your slide in the room you will be presenting in to check colors and make sure font is readable.
Slides give you a good amount of space and you want to make sure that you fill it without being overly crowded. Work with your presentation to make sure each slide is visually balanced and appealing. Also try to keep the same format through many slides.
Transitions and Animations
In PowerPoint, slide transitions and other animations (flying in text) can be used. These help the visual appeal of the presentation, but like colors, they should be used sparingly and consistently. For example, if you choose one method for a slide transition keep the same method throughout the presentation. If you want to animate the text (flying it in) then use the same method throughout. Try not to use too many animations (You don’t need a new fly in for every bullet. Its ok to put them all up at once and talk through them one by one).
Slide titles are good to use. They help the audience know what the slide is about. But don’t use a lot of repetitive generic titles like “results.” Instead, use a title that describes the content on each slide. Each slide should convey only one main point.
Slide sizes are either 4:3 or 16:9. The squarer 4:3 size used to be the standard, but now more and more projectors use the 16:9 format. Know the room you will be presenting in and choose the correct size. If you use a 16:9 slide size and the projector is a 4:3 size, then your slides will not be projected as large.
- One of the main differences between a presentation and a written report is that you will be speaking directly to the audience. A good presentation has a speaker that is effective, engaging, and confidant. Practice is the best way to improve your speaking. Practice in your home. Get friends and family to be an audience. Practice in the room you are to present to feel more familiar with it. Beyond practice, below are some suggestions for improving your speaking.
- The presentation should be formal, specific, and complete. You need to use professional technical language. In some cases, the presentation may be less formal and more interactive. Know your audience.
- Engage your audience. Make eye contact with them, don’t stare at your screen. Try walking around the room (if possible).
- Vary your pace and tone in the presentation. You don’t want your presentation to be one long monotone monologue. Make appropriate pauses to let the audience think about a particular point. Ask questions and get the audience to engage if possible.
- Use spoken transitions between slides so that the audience can follow your train of thought and logic of your presentation.
- Speak loud enough to be heard at the back of the room. If the room is too large consider using a microphone. There is nothing more disengaging to an audience than not being able to understand the speaker. If your language skills are poor, slow down and speak as loudly (but don’t shout at them) and clearly as possible.
- Avoid distractions and filler words. Try not to use “um” and “like”. If you are having trouble remembering what to say, a pause is ok. Pay attention to your body language. You should appear to be calm and confidant in your presentation. Portraying confidence is the best way to get the audience to trust in your conclusions or design recommendation. Don’t fidget. Keep your hands to your side or use them for gesturing occasionally.
- Laser points are good for getting the audience to focus on a particular item in the slide, but don’t use them all the time.
- Know what you are going to say ahead of time, but don’t memorize a speech. You want your presentation to feel natural and flowing. You need to make slight modifications to what you are saying based on the audience reactions.
- Watch the audience. If it is clear they are disengaging or looking confused try to adjust your talk to address them. You can try asking questions or telling a joke.
- Speaking in public can make even the most seasoned speakers feel a bit nervous. The key is to find the tips and trick that allow you to calm your nerves and deliver a confidant presentation. Practice is one of the best ways to become more confidant, but also mental preparations and tricks can help distract your mind from your fears and focus back on the presentation. A quick Google search will provide many websites with suggestions for improving confidence in public speaking.
PowerPoint can be used to create a poster. You simply need to adjust the size of the slide to the required (or allowed) size of the poster. Below are some general rules on a poster.
- Be brief in the information. Like in a presentation only include that which is needed to inform the audience on what they need to know to make a decision or understand a conclusion. Unlike a presentation you may not be there to explain everything, so make sure there is some details.
- Use color in the poster, but be sparing with it. Keep to only a few complimentary colors and make sure the text is a different color (i.e. light text on a dark background or dark text on a light background)
- Section your poster into different areas (like the different sections of a presentation). The most important information (motivation and objectives) should go in the upper right corner.
- If you use any graphics that you did not produce make sure they are cited
- Be sure to include your name and affiliation (also perhaps contact information) in case the audience wants more information. You may also provide references to associated written reports.
- Like in a presentation you want to keep text short. Use key words and phrases and bulleted lists. However, unlike a presentation you may need to use more text in the poster as you may not be there to explain everything.
- Make sure all font is readable when the poster is printed.
- If you are presenting your poster be ready with a 30-45 second “elevator” speech to convey the main point of your poster. If the audience member is interested, you can go through more details.
5. Presentations, posters and infographics
Presentations can be in person or online, live or recorded or a mixture of all of these. Check your assignment instructions or marking criteria first, so you know exactly what is required.
Techniques for keeping your audience engaged
Interactivity for online presentations, presentation slides, images and icons, infographics, types of presentations.
Consider the audience, purpose, context and format when planning your presentation.
- Will your presentation be face-to-face, online, or both ? You might do your presentation to a “live” audience but have it recorded for others to watch later.
- What format or medium will you use? A visual presentation may take the form of slideshow, a poster or an infographic. An oral presentation could be with or without extra visual elements.
- An interactive presentation or workshop will involve you presenting your knowledge and ideas but should also provide opportunities for activities and interaction, including debate, questions or role play.
Regardless of the format, a clear structure and compelling content are essential to keep your audience interested. Presentation skills from Student Support gives an overview of things to be aware of when presenting, like using effective eye contact and gestures.
Practice your presentation — record yourself to check the timing. Are you speaking too fast or too slow? Are you changing your tone of voice? A monotone can be very boring. Practice again to improve your pace and tone.
Central Library has a Presentation room where you can practice your presentation with the same equipment that you will use in your lecture room . Feel confident using a data projector, interactive whiteboard, document camera and more, to be ready to present in your lecture.
Know your topic well — if you barely understand what you are talking about it will be difficult to speak well. Find out as much as you can to inform your presentation. Think about how much your audience knows on the topic so you know what needs to be explained. Examples or anecdotes help make a presentation more interesting and relevant.
Use notes or an outline as a prompt — when you are nervous it is easy to forget the brilliant things you had planned to say. Notes can act as a reminder of the key points . However, if you have the whole speech written out, you will be tempted to read it as is and that can ruin the conversational tone or spontaneity of your presentation.
Use strategic pauses — pause before and after important points to provide emphasis and to grab your audience’s attention.
Ask questions — this is a good way to keep your audience interested and involved. Prepare some questions to ask your audience. Questions about their own experiences or thoughts are easier and less scary for your audience to answer than questions that require a “correct” response.
Repeat audience questions — if a participant asks a question it is always a good idea to repeat the question to ensure that everyone hears it . This is crucial for online attendees who often can’t hear anything not spoken into the microphone.
Watch this video in the How to make a great presentation playlist for tips on how to make a lasting impression on your audience.
Tools for online presenting
Zoom is video conferencing software that can be used for presentations and meetings. UQ provides access to an upgraded version of Zoom for students and staff. You can send a link to participants to join your presentation. The web browser client will download automatically when the participants join their first Zoom meeting, and is also available for manual download. You can share your screen and record the session. Make sure you get your participants’ permission before you start recording.
These tools and features can help make your online presentation more interactive:
Chat — turn chat on so your audience can type their questions and respond to your questions. If possible, have a helper to monitor chat for you. Alternatively, you could use Twitter to involve your audience and allow them to give feedback.
The ability to mute or unmute participants — allow individuals in your audience to ask questions and respond without having the constant noise of the whole audience unmuted in the background. Establish some guidelines at the start of your session about how participants can indicate that they want to ask a question. Some tools allow participants to use a raised hand icon or they can send a message via the chat function.
Whiteboard tool — the whiteboard will usually allow text, drawing, highlighting etc. You and your audience can share concepts and ideas.
Shared document — this could be a Word document or spreadsheet on OneDrive or Google Drive. Set the access so others can comment or edit the shared document. Writing and referencing tools has information on accessing and using these tools.
Mind mapping and brainstorming tools — tools like Coggle and Bubbl.us are good for thinking up ideas and mapping out complex concepts. Padlet allows posts, linking, uploads etc. UQ has a license for Padlet with additional functionality compared to the free version. Visit Study tools for more information about mind mapping and brainstorming tools.
Poll tool — you can post a question or idea and your audience can vote on it or provide feedback or comments:
- Zoom has a poll tool. View Host a poll instructions on Managing Zoom meetings .
- Slido has a free basic plan that requires registration. Slido allows audience members to comment or ask questions during a presentation
- Tricider is a free polling tool that doesn’t require registration, just a link to the question.
If your design skills aren’t great, follow these design tips to create appealing presentations:
- Be consistent with your headings, fonts, colours, layout, themes (shapes, symbols, icons etc)
- Only have one idea or point per slide
- Have no more than six bullets per slide
- Use words as cues rather than having complete sentences
- Only use one chart or graphic per slide. For information on how to visualise your data , visit our Working with data module.
Slide and presentation tools
Find out about more presentation tools .
- Fonts should be easy to read
- Be consistent with your sizing for headings, subheadings and paragraphs
- Make your heading font distinctive from your paragraph font
- Use a maximum of two or three fonts
- Don’t go smaller than an 18 point font for face-to-face presentations. It has to be large enough to be visible on the screen
- Same family fonts look good together.
Get information and tips to help you choose fonts .
- Use just two colours for a simple, clean design
- Grey is a good contrast colour or choose a lighter shade of the main colour.
- Try the Color Harmony options, such as Analogous, Complementary and Shades
- Drag the circles on the wheel to spin to different colours
- Change the RGB (Red, Green, Blue) colour value codes that set the hue, saturation and lightness.
- You could also click the Explore option to search for different colour combinations
Copy the code values to set the same colours in your presentation.
Other colour tools
- w3schools.com has a colour picker tool to set different colour values
- Colorbrewer2.org allows you to select a Colorblind safe option. It is designed for creating map colours but you can use the colour information in your presentations. You can change the number of colours and there are different export formats.
Using images or icons instead of text can make your presentation look more interesting. The Find and use media module lists sources of images. Remember to check the Creative Commons licence type to see how you should credit the author. Public domain images do not require an attribution.
High resolution images are better for print formats. Images you download from the web are often low resolution to reduce the file size. If you are creating a print document, look for the full resolution option, if available.
Find icons for reuse:
- The Noun project — has Creative Commons and public domain icons
- Take a screenshot.org — explains how to capture the full screen or a specific area on different devices
- Nimbus Screenshot & Screen Video Recorder — this Chrome extension lets you take a screenshot of the entire current page. It also has a screen recording function but it is limited in the free version. Other browsers should have similar tools.
Use GIMP , free image editing software, to resize or edit images. Find out about more tools for working with images .
Posters are often used at conferences or other events to share important research. You can use the same design tips for colour, fonts and themes for creating a research or abstract poster. Other design elements include:
- Use a 3 or 4 column format
- Try to keep 40% of the poster as white space , with no text or images. It helps organise the flow of information and prevents cluttering
- Keep a margin around the edge of the poster
- Use a large heading for your title across the top and sub-headings on your columns
- Title heading — 85 point font
- Subheadings — 36 point
- Body text — 24 point
The CLIPS website has information on what to put in a science poster , a PowerPoint for posters video and PowerPoint templates, in different sizes, for download.
More PowerPoint instructions:
- Set the size of the slides to the poster requirements before you start
- Convert your slide to a PDF before you print it to keep the formatting as you intended.
Layout and Composition: Grids (LinkedIn Learning, 1h1m) looks at how to use grids to create strong and consistent designs for posters. A UQ login is required.
Don’t forget to include references and attributions.
Print your poster
You can print up to A3 size , using your UQ ID card or print/copy card in the Library.
Other specialised printing services are available for larger sizes and high quality colour, including from UQ Print .
Infographics and presentation software are excellent ways to present information and data in a visually appealing format. Online infographics can include interactive elements. Infographic examples:
- Information is Beautiful
- Tableau Public Gallery
- Daily Infographic
Choose a tool that allows you to share a link to your infographic or presentation.
Get more information about infographic tools .
Types of Assignments Copyright © 2023 by The University of Queensland is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.
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At most meetings or conferences, when you present a poster presentation, it means that you will display your poster and be available for viewers to ask questions about your research and how it is represented on your poster. Like an oral presentation delivered with a slideshow, there are many ways to design and present your research on a poster. There are also, however, a few important considerations and conventions to be familiar with.
Special Instructions for UURAF 2024 Poster Presentations
UURAF 2024 will be a hybrid event consisting of oral, poster, performance, film and exhibit presentations. UURAF is a public event. Do not share confidential information in your abstract or presentation.
For In-person Posters Only
- Create a poster presentation; print and trim final version to a size of 40" x 32" (102 cm x 81 cm); landscape or portrait orientation
- Prepare a short pitch discussing the poster presentation (less than 3 minutes is recommended)
- Share your work with visitors and evaluators
- In-person Mid-SURE Presenter Guide
For Online Posters Only
- Presentation materials due to online event site by TBD
- Create a poster presentation; save final version as PDF (less than 10MB)
- Create a video discussing their poster presentation (2 to 5 minutes long)
- Upload poster discussion video to YouTube as an unlisted video
- Enable the closed captioning feature to promote accessibility and inclusivity
- Add link for unlisted YouTube video and PDF of poster to the online UURAF event site by TBD
- Participate in asynchronous, online discussions with visitors and evaluators from April 11 - 12
- Virtual Mid-SURE Presenter Guide
- Tips and poster samples
- How to record a PowerPoint presentation
- How to add caption to YouTube videos
- Unlisted video setting
- Attend one of our workshops or peer advising for more assistance
- View example presentations from UURAF 2023
- What to expect at UURAF
- How to Prepare for an Academic Conference
- 15 Tips for Presenting at a Conference
- Practical Networking Tips
- Check out our Poster FAQ to learn more about poster presentations and how to prepare them
- Get help from an Undergraduate Research Peer Advisor
- Call us: (517) 884-4384
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