Guidelines and Tips for Presenters

[Presentations][Using Images][Slides]

As a presenter, you have been allocated a set number of minutes.  Stay within the time; the overall schedule will be disrupted if everyone is slightly overtime.  This also means that your equipment should be ready to use.  Each presenter has the right to his or her full time.  Planning for the number of presentations in a set period is based on the assumption that YOU will be responsible in keeping time! 

Guidelines for Presentations

bullet For a 10-minute talk: Five (5) double-spaced pages of text is the maximum that you should plan.

bullet For a 20-minute talk: Ten (10) double-spaced pages of text is the maximum that you should plan.

Basically, each page of text (250 words) is between 2- and 2.5-minutes of speech, assuming that you are reading.  Generally, you will sound better if you do NOT read but speak just from your notes.  The potential problem with speaking from notes alone is going overtime.

bulletWhen you get that 1-minute warning, do NOT speed up: CONCLUDE your presentation!

bulletYou cannot present as many ideas as you would in a paper.  Better to cover three points thoroughly and conclude instead of losing your audience and going overtime.  Structure your talk so that these points are at the beginning.  If you get that 1-minute warning, then you can proceed to your conclusion without eliminating the essence of your argument.

bullet Plan ahead and practice before your presentation to check for time 
and flow of the talk.  Make sure you know how to use your equipment.

bullet Speak to your audience, NOT to the screen or blackboard!

bullet Make eye contact with your audience when speaking.  Do not mumble or stand hunched over your notes.

bulletAfter making your presentation, there is usually an opportunity for the audience to ask questions.  If silence follows, pose a question instead to generate discussion.

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Tips when Using Images

More and more individuals use PowerPoint, rather than slides or transparencies to illustrate their presentations.  These tips apply to all these  media formats.  Use a laser pointer to direct your audience's attention.

bulletAs always, reference where appropriate using the AAA-style guide.

bullet Images used are NOT for decorative purposes; they should be adding information.

bulletUse images that match and complement your text; otherwise, your audience may become confused.

bulletIf you present data in tabular or graphic form, make sure your audience can read it; otherwise, it is worthless.  This is where previewing is important.

bulletLimit the information conveyed to a single point or idea.  Basically, you need to simplify graphics to the key points.

bulletIf you use text in the image, follow the 7/7 rule: No more than seven (7) lines with seven (7) words per line.

bulletUse a clear text font (e.g., Arial, Century Gothic, Verdana) rather than something like Chiller or Freestyle Script.  Ease of reading is important.

bulletWith graphics and text, use contrasting colours; some colours work better than others--again, preview.  With PowerPoint, there is a tendency to use multiple colour combinations; be consistent in using 
an overall colour scheme

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For Slides:

bulletFor a lecture of 20-minutes, do not use more than 40 slides.  This is dependent, of course,  on the amount of accompanying commentary per slide.

bullet Avoid backing up slides; make sufficient copies to use throughout your presentation.

bulletUse a black slide or some other marker slide to indicate that you have reached the end so that your audience is not blinded with white light.

bulletCheck that you have placed your slides in proper order and facing the right direction (shiny side towards you, upside down).

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For Transparencies:

bulletMake sure you place the transparencies on the projector correctly (facing upwards towards you, i.e., you should be able to read it).  Constant turning them upside down and backwards can be annoying.

bulletThe same comments apply to text font, but size is also important.  Use at least 20-pt font size.

bulletIf you borrow images and photocopy, try to have as clean an image as possible.  It will make your presentation more professional looking.

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For PowerPoint:

bullet Limit the number of "bells and whistles" used in your presentation.  
Having bullets and letters constantly zinging across the screen becomes annoying and says more about your ability to use the programme rather than the substance of your talk.

bulletWhen borrowing images, make sure that it projects clearly.  A fuzzy image does not help your cause.

bulletText should complement or emphasize a particular point; do NOT use it as your lecture notes.


Acknowlegement: A handout for an ARARA conference provided the inspiration.  Additional modifications and comments for this webpage are based on the many presentations graded over the years, as well as the helpful suggestions of Vancouver Island University (formerly, Malaspina University-College) students and colleagues.  

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Created 08/19/2004; last updated 08/21/2008  
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