speaker powerpoint

Guidelines for WPSA Speakers

Structuring talks

Your talk should complement your abstract. While not everyone in the audience will have read your abstract before hearing your talk, it is an available resource for the audience to check details. Therefore your talk can focus on results and their meaning rather than on the methodological detail or extensive background information.

Where written information can be read in any order and at the reader’s own pace, presentations impose both sequence and rhythm of content on the audience. This makes them far harder to follow so they need to be much more selective in their content.

Presentations almost always have opportunity for questions – either immediately afterwards or at a poster viewing session. This allows the audience to choose aspects where they would like to gain more detailed information. Fear of omitting something important often means speakers try to say too much in their presentations. A better approach is to be selective in the presentation itself and to allow enough time for questions and answers and, of course, to prepare well by anticipating the questions the audience might have.

Interpreting data

data picture

The meaning of your results is the most important part of your presentation. It is crucial that your interpretation of the data and associated statistical analysis is correct. Take care in particular to ensure your conclusions are supported by your data analysis


Using powerpoint

Powerpoint is simply a tool to assist in getting your key messages across. Use of overly complicated features within powerpoint will distract the audience from what you are saying.

Constructing slides

1. Make a title slide to introduce your talk, the authors and their affiliations.

2. Headings on slides should be short and in note form.

3. Where possible, use key words or images to support what you are saying

4. Decide on key points and create slides to illustrate these as concisely and clearly as possible.

5. Practice your talk to ensure you comply with your allocated time. Creating one slide per minute of talk is usually a reasonable starting point for producing a presentation of the appropriate length.

6. Results are the most important part of your presentation: ensure tables and graphs only contain key data.

7. Tables larger than 4 rows by 4 columns are difficult to take in

8. Graphs should be limited to 2 or 3 plotted lines with a clearly coloured legend and labelled, quantified axes.

9. Do not assume labels on the first graph are sufficient explanation for all subsequent graph slides: audiences waver in attention and need reminding of graph labels.

10. Pictures and photographs can facilitate explanation when used judiciously but excessive use simply adds confusion.

11. Plain slide backgrounds are best for text and diagrams – shading makes text difficult to read.

12. White or yellow text on a blue background or black text on a white background are easiest to read – take care to avoid red and green combinations as 10% of the population have difficulty differentiating red from green.

Pacing your talk

Make sure you know which slide represents the halfway point of your talk. Be prepared to leave slides out if time is against you. This will allow you time to deliver the most important, final slides on your conclusions and their implications.

Final tips

Learn from others - If you see a good presentation use the ideas for your next talk. If you have trouble designing your presentation get help from colleagues and do not try to be over ambitious.

A comprehensive guide to presenting science orally is provided on the Nature website

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