Nafisa’s Top Ten Tips for Oral and Poster Presentations

Author: Dr. Nafisa Jadavji

 Dr. Jadavji presenting her work at a conference.

Dr. Jadavji presenting her work at a conference.

It is officially the summer, also known as academic conference season.

Over the years I have given a several poster and oral presentations. With my previous experience, I have compiled what I found works best for presenting data.

  1. When using power point, pick a font that is easy to read. I prefer to use Arial.
  2. Don’t overcrowd your slides or posters with too much text. Pictures or diagrams can be just as effective.
  3. If you include pictures, graphs or other figures make sure they are big enough and don’t use many.
  4. Again, if you do include pictures, graphs, or other figures use them during your presentation. Walk your audience through what the graph, picture, or other figure shows.
  5. For the oral talk, make an outline of your presentation, this can be your second slide. I find it useful for organizing my talks and I think it helps the audience.
  6. Don’t forget to acknowledge the people who helped you with your work and any funding you or your supervisor received for the project.
  7. If you have a complicated experimental design with multiple time points, and manipulations make a figure for an experimental design like a timeline. It also might be useful to list all the experimental groups you had in your study.
  8. Use high contrast colors for text and background. Remember some people are color blind. My default is black text on a white background with royal blue titles.
  9. Practice your presentation and get feedback. Microsoft power point has a great notes section for all slides, write out the points you want to cover and review them before you give your presentation. This applies to poster presentations too. I often have students write out the major points they will cover during their poster presentation. This will help you stay on topic.
  10. If you are presenting a poster, have a 4-5 minutes presentation of your poster planned out. Point to figures and graphs. On my posters, I like to include a summary of results section prior to the conclusion.

Presenting data can be a challenge, in terms of public speaking. I struggled with it when I started my scientific training and still do, but I have been doing it consistently 16 years. It does get easier, I still get nervous, but it is manageable.