Guides for presenters

In this text we provide brief guidelines as support for presenting at academic conferences. Two sections describe poster and paper presentation respectively.

Poster presentations

An increasingly common way to present research at conferences and workshops is to produce a poster. The poster is put up (e.g. on a wall or on a board) in a place where it can be viewed easily by participants attending the conference or workshop. During a “poster session”, the researchers who are responsible for the poster stand next to their poster and present their research to anyone who is interested.

Design of the poster

The main sections of the poster should include: Title, Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion, and a Summary of the most prominent results of the study. Canva Please feel free to use graphs, tables, transcription excerpts and other visual means to present your research. Make sure to leave some space on your poster. Too much text is not to be recommended! The size of the poster should not exceed 1200 x 850 mm. You can create your poster using or PowerPoint. These video tutorials can help you create and print your poster:

How to make an academic poster in powerpoint, on Youtube External link.

Printing in Acrobat X: Banners, Posters or Large Pages, on Youtube External link.

The different sections of the poster are described in some detail below:

Title: The title of the poster should clearly illustrate what the research is about. The name of the researcher and the name of the department/programme with which the researcher is affiliated should also be presented below the main title.

Introduction: The introduction should include clear statements about the research question/s and the problem/background of the study. It should also provide some key references to form a theoretical foundation for the study. The purpose of the study must be clear to the reader.

Method: This section presents your data, i.e. participants, setting (what kind of activity was investigated), type of data (video/audio recordings), and what method was used (CA, Discourse Analysis etc.)

Results: The results section describes the main findings of your study. It should consist of at least one transcription excerpt that illustrates what you have investigated. All relevant findings from your analyses should be presented in a clear and comprehensible way in this section.

Discussion: In the discussion, you give the findings of your study some depth and relate it to other relevant sources. Depending on the scope of your project, you may also relate it to a specific field – do your results have some implications for a certain area? You may also say something about prospects for future research.

Summary: The summary should present the main findings of the study in a few sentences, e.g. using bullets. It should be formulated in a way that helps a reader look at the summary first, in order to decide whether your study is of interest or not.

NB: Depending on where you are in your research, only some of these sections will be relevant. If you are instead presenting an idea for a research article, you will focus more on the introduction, methods, and perhaps some expected outcomes.

Presenting the poster

Presenting a poster is an opportunity to promote your research to an audience who may not know your research field. This type of presentation is more conversational than any other types of oral presentation. Researchers engage with their audience in a more personal, face-to-face manner. Because it is more conversational and performative, posters should be presented in a way that engages the audience with the content. Here is a list of guidelines for how to conduct an effective poster presentation session:

• Make sure to rehearse the presentation before the actual poster event to reduce speaker anxiety and learn the content.

• Stand on one side of the poster and avoid blocking the audience from viewing your poster or the poster next to yours.

• Smile and make eye contact with the audience.

• Ask your audience if they would like you to present your poster to them. Some people prefer to just scan posters on their own.

• As you’re presenting, use your hands to point to the relevant parts of your poster. Look at your audience instead of staring at your own poster the entire time.

• Be yourself and let your genuine personality show through your presentation and interaction with the audience.

• Ask if your audience has any questions. Answer their questions to the best of your ability, and don’t be afraid to admit if you don’t know the answer.

• If you don’t see others waiting for your poster, take the opportunity to network with your current audience or other poster presenters around you. Ask them about themselves and what they’re working on. This is also a great time to ask for feedback on your work.

For more useful tips on how to present a poster, please visit this website: https://urca.msu.edu/posters External link.

Paper presentations

The information is taken from University of Technology Sydney External link..

Presenting your conference presentation

When presenting your conference presentation you need to know your answers to the following questions:

• Is the purpose clearly stated: are you reporting, comparing, convincing, arguing, questioning…?

• Is the thesis/topic clearly stated: “In this paper, I want to report the findings of recent research which shows that under certain conditions, dolphins can be taught how to read simple text”?

• Are your main arguments/ideas supported with evidence?

• Are all the materials relevant to the topic?

• Have you demonstrated your knowledge of the subject?

• Is the level of technicality suited to the audience?

• How do you reply to audience’s questions: long questions, ‘mini papers’ disguised as questions…?

Organise your presentation

Most presentations are organised according to a predictable pattern. They have three main stages: introduction, body and conclusion (i.e. tell them what you are going to say; then say it; then tell them what you have said).

When a presentation does not have these clear sections, it can be very difficult for listeners to follow what is being said.


This is the most crucial part of any presentation. You need to capture the audience’s interest in your topic and establish rapport with them. Your introduction should let the audience know what they are going to hear in the presentation. They need to know what to expect in order to get interested and to be able to follow you. Giving them an outline of your presentation in your introduction enables them to do this.

You need to:

• capture the audience’s attention with a question, quotation, anecdote, or interesting statistic, etc.

• tell them what your presentation will be about: • main theme or main argument

• main points you will cover and the order in which you will cover them.


The body of your presentation must be clearly organised with the main points highlighted. One effective technique is to number your ideas. Any idea which is new to your audience needs to be presented simply with supportive evidence or examples which will make it more easily understood. Each important idea should be presented several times in different ways within the body of your presentation. Your audience needs several opportunities to absorb the full meaning and the significance of the most important ideas. It is also important to state the links between your ideas clearly.

The body is where you develop your main ideas/argument, using supporting ideas/evidence. Use techniques that make it easy for the listener to follow your talk:

• number your ideas: “There are three main factors...”

• arrange your ideas in logical order, such as chronological; cause and effect; problem–solution

• use transitional devices to help the audience follow the direction of your talk: “secondly…; another important point is...; on the other hand…; I would now like to move on and look at another aspect of the research...”

• support and clarify your ideas: • state the main idea

• provide support for this idea • refer to experts, provide examples to illustrate the idea

• provide statistics, facts, tell anecdotes (if time permits)

• provide case studies, etc.

• repeat important ideas using different words so the audience has several opportunities to absorb them

• don’t make the information too dense – remember the audience is listening, not reading!


The conclusion sums up main points. The conclusion should reinforce the central ideas of the presentation and signal a forceful ending. A weak, inconclusive or apologetic closing detracts from a good presentation. You should show in your conclusion that you have covered all the points that you said you would in your introduction. You should also show that you are confident, and that you have communicated effectively.

It is important to have a strong conclusion so the audience is left with a good impression.

• Summarise the main ideas of your presentation.

• Don’t introduce any new ideas.

• Work towards a strong ending – don’t finish abruptly or say ‘That’s all’. Perhaps leave the audience with something to think about.

Presentation Tips

Advance Preparation

The more you know about your audience, the more likely you will be able to give an effective presentation. Try to find out as much as you can about who will be there, what their

background is, why they will be coming, and how much they will already know about the topic. Go to the room where you will make your presentation and get a feel of its size, acoustics, seating, etc. If you can, familiarise yourself with the equipment in the room.

Clear pronunciation

Your voice must be clear and distinct. If you know you have difficulty with pronunciation, speak a little more slowly than usual. Use intonation, stress, changes in pace (slow down at important points, speed up at details, anecdotes) and pause to keep the listeners’ attention, and focus attention on important points.

Body language

It has been estimated that 75% of meaning transferred is non-verbal. Try to maintain eye contact with your audience as this helps keep your audience engaged. Focus on standing straight and directly facing your audience, using hand gestures to emphasise important information.

Visual aids

A presentation can be enhanced by the effective use of overhead transparencies (slides), charts, pictures, posters or PowerPoint presentations (with limited graphic/sound gimmicks). They provide variety and can help reinforce points made. However, you are still the main communicator of your message. Be familiar with your visual aids, refer to them specifically and only display them when you are referring to them, otherwise they will only be a distraction.

• Physical charts, graphs, pictures, etc.: ensure that the size is appropriate for a large room. If necessary, back up with handouts.

• Video: ensure the segment shown is not too long in relation to the overall length of your presentation.

• PowerPoint design basics: • Limit the amount of material on each visual: your listeners should be able to read and understand a visual in five seconds or less.

• Be sure your visuals are large enough to be seen by everyone: the lettering should usually be minimum 20-22 pt. font.

• Use diagrams, graphs and charts instead of words where possible.

• Eliminate unnecessary detail from diagrams, graphs and charts.

Expression and style

Try to speak to your audience using notes rather than memorising or reading your presentation. In order to do this, you will have to practise your presentations as many times as you can. If possible, perform in front of an audience. Otherwise, practise in front of a mirror or record yourself on your phone. This will also give you an idea of how long your presentation will take.

Use a conversation style to make your audience feel personally involved. Each time you use the word ‘you’, the audience feels compelled to pay attention.