Tips for Oral Presentations

For Papers/Oral Presentations before the Conference:

  • Plan on speaking  for 5-12 minutes. (That will allow time for questions.)
  • Consider visuals: slides, pics, paper handouts, or white-board drawings. They attract audience interest (and handouts give the audience something to take home). If you use visuals, keep the words brief and simple.
  • Make your notes large with plenty of spacing so you can see them easily while you present: e.g., try 14- or 16-point Ariel or Calibri font (easier to read), and try double, triple, or even quadruple spacing.
  • Practice several times with or without others listening.
  • Time yourself–how many minutes does it take you to read? How many minutes does it take for each major part? Change/delete as needed.
  • Make notes on your presentation paper using “stage directions”: e.g., circle or underline words you want to emphasize, or write “SHOW NEXT PIC NOW.”
  • Get a decent night’s sleep and have a substantial breakfast.


For Papers/Oral Presentations at the conference:

  • Know at least an hour ahead of time exactly where your presentation room is.
  • Review your materials an hour or two before your presentation.
  • Arrive 10 minutes before your start time. Meet the other presenters and your moderator and decide which presenter will speak first, second, and third.
  • If you have electronic files, we recommend bringing them on a flash drive. You will want to load them onto the computer prior to the first presenter.


For Papers/Oral Presentations during your presentation:

  • As you present, watch the time and use the time limits you have set for each section. Consider having somebody indicate when you have only a couple minutes remaining.
  • If you are presenting a paper, don’t simply read your paper. Present it. Be aware of your audience. Provide eye contact and speak with a natural voice at a relatively slow pace.
  • Note that the best speakers start by telling people in a sentence or two what they are going to say. At the end, they provide a synthesis of their remarks, highlighting the major points.
  • Use your words and/or your body language to tell people whenever you are switching to your next ssection: e.g., “Here is my first major reason,” “Here is my second…,” etc.
  • When you are done, take a deep breath, take a drink of water, and ask if anyone has questions–or say that you will answer questions when every speaker has finished.


For Papers/Oral Presentations after your presentation:

  • Don’t feel you should have been perfect.
  • Take a deep breath and feel content for having the nerve to present.
  • Add it to your résumé in some form:
    “[Name of Your Presentation].” Presented April 23/24, 2014 at the Inver Hills Research Conference. Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota.

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