Presentation Formats

This page gives further information about preparing an oral presentation with or without visual aids. For more help with preparing a poster presentation, please refer to Poster Design: Tips for Creating Your Poster.

Humanities Presentations

The Claremont Graduate University website has some good tips and standards for oral presentations in the Humanities. While visual aids such as PowerPoint are being used more and more frequently, they are certainly not required. However, most presenters these days do not simply read a written essay, as used to be common. Instead, the most common Humanities presentations involve talking from notes, which allows a presenter to engage with the audience more fully and to highlight key info (quotes or passages, facts, etc.) without getting lost in reading his or her prose.

Scientific Presentations

The standard format for nearly all scientific presentations today is a PowerPoint-type presentation. A series of relevant slides are made to give key points, data, or equations. The presenter typically explains each slide and delivers the project in a oral manner. Technically Speaking gives a great example via video about delivering a scientific or technical presentation.

A Presentation is not a slide-show, and the slides are not notes for the presenter to read. The following is a short list of Dos and Don'ts that will help your presentation.


Prepare notes.

If you are using slides, prepare notes for yourself for each slide. The notes should be everything that you are going to say for the slide. (You may resort to reading the notes if you are nervous.)

Practice your presentation.

The best speakers practice a lot to polish up their talks. If you need to deliver your talk in a fixed amount of time, your should time yourself.

The presentation will be more polished and if timing is critical, it will run more smoothly. Also, practicing it (either to yourself or some willing person) will determine if the presentation makes sense. You often determine if you are leaving things out that you should include.

Picture everyone naked/dressed as clowns/asleep

Try to calm yourself someway if you typically get nervous. You can tell a joke or have a funny slide with an appropriate cartoon.

Deliver an appropriate amount of material.

Most talks contain too much information. If delivering the material in a paper, you don't need to cover the same material. You can talk about a small part.


Read your slides.

Except for the visually impaired, your audience can read your slides. You should have some points to make for each slide.

Wait until the last minute to prepare.

You may think that since a presentation is a fleeting event (unlike a paper), you do not need to prepare much. An unprepared presentation is fairly evident and less interesting for your audience.