How to: Scientific Presentation

I… prefer doing oral presentation more than doing a poster one. Other than it seems like a bigger prestige, printing and hauling posters especially in international flight is such a pain.

This is definitely longer than 56 cm! Source: Amazon

Anyway, I don’t think that I am good in making (and presenting) presentation (especially the talking part), but I am trying, and seeing and getting advice from a lot of nicer presentations, I also make this as a note (I am guilty of not practising what I preach as well, so a warning to me, somewhat). Anyway, there are a lot of conflicting “suggestions”, so take whatever you think important and apply them to your presentation.

First thing first, read the oral presentation guide on your conference/ seminar/ meeting website or ask the organiser about the presentation setup! This looks like a bore and useless thing (you just bring a presentation file, finish!) but you’ll be surprised on the number of people bringing a landscape poster to a portrait-only session and vice versa because they don’t read the guide (talking about this, I should make a poster version of this, hmm).

OK? Next!

  • Good if you put your name/ website/ email/ Facebook/ Twitter in your title slide

Definitely not practicing what I preach

  • Check whether your institution/ project has a presentation template!
  • Give information about the presentation/ the date/ the conference/ the date in every slide. This is good for conference allowing picture-taking, so if people want to look at pictures of your slide, they can just cite them. The good thing is that if there’re people coming in late, they will know who and what. The downside is that if you don’t arrange them properly they will make the slides busy, so small sizes should be fine.
  • IF you have sponsors, it’s better to mention them as well, good at the first or the last
  • Smallest font size should be about 20-22


  • Reduce tables and wall of text, if it’s necessary to include them, do highlight the important parts circles, different colours, bold letters. Try to explain stuff and not just write them and ask the viewer to read them.
  • But don’t just only do pictures without any text, as if you present in a big hall, sometimes people at the back can’t hear anything, but they usually can read. Vice versa. Also good for when people trying to take pictures of your slides
  • Cite all graphs/ tables, mentioning Name-Year-Conference/ Publication should be enough
  • I don’t prefer doing Table of Content or similar at the front of the presentation and talk about them. But if you want to do this, don’t spend a lot of time in this.
  • I suggest roughly 1 slide/ minute, but you can adjust to your usual speed
  • I actually prefer dark background-light text, but my professor said otherwise. Anyway, don’t combine light green or yellow text against a white background, dark green text against a dark background as they’re hard to read
  • Make sure that all names/ citation/ organization names and logos are correct.
  • If you put equations, better to put this as latex or Word equation. If you put them as images, don’t forget to check whether the picture looks good in the presentation.
  • If you have links to videos/ website/ etc. Make sure that they work! Usually, people just test their presentation in their own notebook/computer and forget about this
  • Check if you need to upload/ send the organiser/ bring your own laptop! If you bring your own, don’t forget to charge your battery, provide necessary adaptor (looking at you Mac users), as well as getting your own laser pointer if necessary!
  • I like giving pdf version of my presentation myself as you don’t know whether the organiser uses Mac or Windows (or Linux or whatever), but the point is to make sure that your presentation works in every OS there are!
  • It’s better to make the slides 1024×768 (Standard)! Sure, you can make them Widescreen (I like Widescreen myself), but most projectors are Standard (I think), so expect black empty spaces on the top/ bottom). Please read what the organiser ask if they have a guide page!


  • Transitions and effects aren’t necessary! If you need some image-changing (before/after for example), just give them in two separate slides
  • Thank you slide or “any question” slide depends on the person, but if you want to do them, I guess put your name or title or conclusion in this slide as well
  • It’s really good if you upload your presentation on your website, put all the links to your papers, and your contacts. Better to put the link in the last page (a.k.a. the “thank you” page) so that people can take a note while you’re answering the incoming questions

Something like this, I guess

Things to bring:

  • Your own laptop/ notebook: Good if you have active contents like video to show. Not a necessity.
  • VGA adaptor: If you bring your own notebook. Especially if you’re using Macbook and all of its family. Also important if your notebook is new-ish and only has HDMI port. I wonder with the number of people using Macs here (compared to Indonesia) why the Mac adaptor has yet to be readily available in conference rooms
  • Phone as a timer: good for managing your presentation time, especially if the organiser doesn’t provide any timer
  • Laser pointer: As not all organiser provides it. Actually, with around 2 GBP you can already have one that can be connected to your computer. If not, just bring one for cats! Will improve your presentation tremendously especially for graphs!
  • Business cards: For when people come to discuss research and you don’t have enough time to go to the next session.

So far these are things I remember, and different people have different styles (maybe you can make a wall-of-text presentation that’s nice?), so yep!

About Ky

Currently Indonesian university student trying to submit more useful contents to share one's limited knowledge. Rather has wide, shallow interests, the writings will be as sporadic as it can be. Should write more scientific and field related topics, but writing muse says otherwise. Expect more on technical related writings especially softwares and apps, cultures, music, and random things.

Posted on October 16, 2016, in Learning and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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