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Oral Presentation Guidelines

Oral presentations are extended speeches about your research, typically with the aid of Powerpoint slides or similar presentation software. For CAURS 2017, oral presentations will be 10 minutes long with an additional 5 minutes for Q&A. A moderator will be keeping track of your presentation time and facilitate the Q&A session.


Preparation is the key to giving an effective presentation and to reducing your nervousness. You are the expert on the topic in the room, so know your topic well. You will find that you know much more about your topic than you will have time to present, which is a good thing. It will allow you to create a good introduction, to distill out the most important points that need to be made, and to finish with a strong conclusion.

  • Know your topic - become an expert, which will also boost your self confidence
  • Be cognizant of the background and educational level of your audience so you know how much detail to go into and what kinds of concepts you may have to define
  • Try not to read directly off your slides. You are encouraged to use an outline or notes if you wish, but practice enough beforehand that you do not need to read your presentation word by word.


Visual aids (maps, photos, film clips, graphs, diagrams, and charts) can enhance a presentation.

  • Keep visual aids simple and uncluttered.
  • Use color and contrast for emphasis but use them in moderation
  • Use a font size large enough to be seen from the back of the room (slides are generally readable from the back of a room if they are readable at a distance of 9 feet from a 15" monitor)
  • Resist the temptation to use too many slides and become dependent on them
  • Avoid using unnecessary sound effects and dramatic slide transitions


Practice giving your presentation to yourself and to others. Speak aloud and time yourself. Practice using your visual aids. It is important that you adhere to your time limit. Your professor knows that you know more about your topic than you will have time to share. Your goal is to inform, not overwhelm. In this case, less can be more.


To deliver an effective and engaging presentation, you will have to overcome your nervousness and be prepared for the room conditions. Good preparation should dispel most of your nervousness. Your presentation will never go exactly as you expect – but here as some tips to help your presentation go as smoothly as possible! 

  • Begin your presentation by telling your audience what your topic is and what you will be covering. A brief outline of your presentation will help guide and orient the audience.
  • Avoid reading your remarks directly from your preparation materials.
  • Speak loudly and clearly – loud enough to be clearly heard in the back row.
  • Stand up straight. Don’t be afraid to move around the stage!
  • Do not do anything that will distract from your content – try to overcome any nervous fidgeting or habits such as pencil twirling or rocking back and forth.
  • Never mention anything that could have been in your talk but wasn’t.
  • Make eye contact with the audience.
  • If you are using slides or PowerPoint, avoid speaking to the screen instead of to the audience. Be familiar enough with your materials that the only reason you look at them is to point something out.
  • Please adhere strictly to the time limit. A Board member will be present to give you a 2-minute warning.
  • At the conclusion of your presentation, ask for questions. Encourage questions with your eyes and your body language. Respond to questions politely and succintly. Take a brief moment to compose your thoughts before responding.
  • At the end of your presentation, summarize your main points and give a concluding remark that reinforces why your information is of value.


  • Work out details with equipment before the day of your presentation; present any equipment requests to the ISB well before the event, and make sure any necessary software is installed.
  • Know how to operate the equipment you choose to use.
  • Have backup copies of everything!
  • Consider making printouts of your slides or transparencies in case there is a problem with electricity or bulbs.
  • Do not expect an internet connection to work when you need it. Have any web sites you want to show available as offline copies.


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