Conference Presentation

Project Goal: To present preliminary results of your research work at a conference of your peers.


1. Gather information about your research so far. This will include:

  • Background information for your introduction and conclusion. Once again, we are looking for ways your research fits into the broad picture of your discipline.
  • Methods and procedures you used or are using to do the work.
  • Graphs, pictures, or other visuals.

2. Think about your presentation style. Are you comfortable speaking extemporaneously in front of a group, or do you get nervous and need extensive notes? In either case, you’ll probably want to have notes of some kind; it’s easy to lose your train of thought. Some speakers use note cards; others put their notes in a folder of some kind.

3. Your presentation will be brief (10 minutes), so you must be efficient about presenting your work. Focus on the visuals (figures & tables) because they form the heart of your talk. Look at each one and think about what you want to say about it. Jot down notes. Then form the notes into speaker’s notes and presentation pages (templates for your transparencies or slides).

4. Make presentation pages for your procedures and graphics, being sure to reference them in your talk.

5. Write your introductory and concluding remarks. Many speakers include a presentation page with credits to collaborators and assistants at the end.

6. Make transparencies or powerpoint slides of your presentation pages. Be sure to credit procedures or visuals you used from others’ work. Remember, the key word is simplicity in designing slides. Think about the presentation you saw for your seminar worksheet. How effective were the speaker’s slides? Why?

7. Practice your talk to time it and increase your confidence. Be prepared to answer questions from the audience! You’ll probably want to plan 7 or 8 minutes of “speech” with a couple of minutes for audience questions within your 10 minute limit.

8. Review your notes from class and your textbook (Chapter 5) as you do this project. Also consider what you learned from the seminar presentation you saw. What did the speaker do well? What could have been improved?

Criteria for evaluation
(Notice these are presentation skills, not scientific content assessment.)

Preparation Skills:

  • Audience. Was the presentation geared to an educated scientific audience?
  • Evidence of preparation. Did the speaker appear to know the content well?
  • Appropriateness. Did the presentation follow the assignment sheet instructions?

Organization Skills:

  • Purpose. Did the talk include a clearly stated communication purpose?
  • Introduction. Did the introduction establish an adequate context?
  • Organization – Clarity. Was the presentation organized, logical, and easy to follow?
  • Content. Was the treatment of the topic relevant and thorough?
  • Effectiveness. Was the presentation effective in communicating the science?
  • Conclusion. Was the conclusion effective in emphasizing the major point of the talk?

Presentation Skills:

  • Appearance. Was the speaker professionally dressed and well groomed?
  • Eye contact. Was there sufficient and direct eye contact?
  • Voice. Loud enough?
  • Voice. Varied in pitch?
  • Speed of presentation. Was the rate (speed) of delivery effective?
  • Body Language. Were hand gestures meaningful & appropriate, not distracting?
  • Enthusiasm. Did the speaker show enthusiasm for the speech topic & presentation?
  • Visuals. Were visuals appropriate and adequately labelled?
  • Visuals. Were visuals well designed, professional, and informative?
  • Visuals. Were visuals referenced in presentation?
  • Time limits. Was the presentation too short or too long?