Science Conference Presenter Tips

This goes for all presentations using visuals, in front of an audience. You may have the information and the POWER but does the audience get your POINT?! This material is copyrighted. Enjoy it, use it, share the link, but don't republish or redistribute it without consent of the copyright holder.

cartoon of speaker on stage
  • Record yourself doing a presentation. Watch it and ask friends or family for an honest critique.
  • Learn what your nervous motions are so you can curb them.
  • Load your presentation and test it on the playback computer well before your presentation.
  • If you are using your own computer, make sure you have enough cables and adapters to handle most AV situations!
  • Regardless of how powerful your message is, you still need to engage and entertain the audience with energy, humor, and a little theatre.
  • Share your enthusiasm for your topic with the audience.
  • Watch your audience to see if they are following, or even awake.
  • Consider that some of the audience may be students, guests, or spouses so try not to talk too far over their heads.
  • Don’t read every word on your slides verbatim. The audience is already doing that. Spoken words should add to what is on screen.
  • Don’t show page after page of text paragraphs, especially when the font is tiny.
  • Don’t use copyrighted material without consent and attribution.
  • Don’t talk to the screen. Face the audience and talk to them.
  • Don’t try to present your entire project/thesis in the short time allotted. You must only give highlights and conclusions.
  • Don't stand right under a ceiling speaker since that often causes audio feedback.
  • Don’t point all over the screen for no reason with a laser.
  • Never point a laser at the audience.
  • Avoid being monotone.
  • Use your hands and body language.
  • Graphics should be colorful and fill the screen.
  • Backgrounds should be subtle.
  • Wear lavalier microphones about 6 inches below your chin, on lapel, shirt, or tie. Don’t let the cord dangle where you might knock it off.
  • Keeping the microphone closer to your mouth reduces audio feedback.
  • Use animations, movies, and video where appropriate, to highlight a point, not distract from it.
  • Make sure all of your file types are compatible with the computer that your presentation is on.
  • When having someone advance the slides, don’t keep saying “next slide.” Simply make eye contact with the person and nod your head.
  • Turn off your ringer on electronic devices and ask the audience to do the same.
  • Ask audience simple questions to keep them engaged.
  • Leave time for questions at the end.
  • While your images may look great from two feet away on a computer screen, they lose quality for a viewer in the middle of a room. View your slides on a computer monitor from ten feet away to get a sense of what the audience will see.
  • Use bold, simple fonts with colors that set them apart from the background.
  • Graphs with multiple parameters will benefit by layering the parameters on one at a time, slide by slide.
  • Make sure graphs and charts have large, clear legends.
  • Prepare for worst-case scenario where AV equipment fails. Have a plan "B" which is at least a hard copy of your presentation highlights.
  • Have fun, enjoy your own presentation. If you can't enjoy it, the audience can't either!
    cartoon of speaker at meeting