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Advice for Academic Presentations

Below is some advice for preparing and delivering presentations in academic events (e.g. conferences/workshops).

  • Use slide numbers to help your audience refer to specific slides when asking questions at the end of your presentation.
  • More often than not, it is a good idea to write a complete transcript of your presentation in the "Notes" section of your Powerpoint slides. Even if you don't refer to it at all during the delivery of your presentation it can help you structure your thoughts.
  • While LaTeX/Beamer slides look much better, Powerpoint slides are easier to reuse (i.e. copy/paste) across presentations.
  • Rehearse your presentation to make sure you can deliver it in the allocated time.
  • Do not put any text in your slides that the audience won't be able to read (e.g. because it is too long or because the font is tiny). Excuses of the type "I know that the font in this diagram is too small to read but ..." are unacceptable, unless someone else prepared the slides for you.
  • Find out who is chairing the session in which you are presenting and introduce yourself if they don't reach out to you first.
  • Try the projector/online sharing platform in advance to avoid last-minute surprises (e.g. incompatible adaptors, need to restart your machine to allow the sharing app to record your screen).
  • If you need to record a presentation for online delivery, don't feel obliged to have your face showing the whole time. It's OK to show your face while introducing the first slide, and then again in the last slide when you conclude your presentation.
  • Finish your presentation with a slide that summarises your key take-home message(s). Do not conclude your presentation with a "Q&A" or a "Thank you!" slide.
  • Presentation Zen and Slide:ology are two very good books with lots of practical advice for preparing and delivering high-quality presentations.