Tips on a Professional Presentation


Presentation Document(s):

• All presentations are to be technical in nature.  The judges may not be familiar with the detailed work but the judges do come from a technical background such as engineering or the sciences.  Some judges will have read your paper before the Symposium but not all. Your audience, your university peers, will not have previously read your paper, so please include enough information to get them up to speed.

• Lessons learned: Yes, you did good work and everyone is interested in it; that's why we're here.  However, there are usually pitfalls on the path to success and breakthroughs.  It would be good to include one or two slides in your presentation dedicated to "lessons learned" as well as a section of your paper.

• Quotes from "experts" should not be part of your presentation or paper - you are required to make your own technical points and discuss/defend them.  A historical quote or a quote from a famous person to make a point is permitted if it adds to your presentation.   A quote claiming that your research is both "less filling AND tastes great!!!!!!!" is unacceptable.

• Distracting graphics: Be very careful with fancy graphics (pictures are okay) and test them out on a projector before the final presentation.  They might look good on a PC screen but might be unreadable when projected.

• File Format: The sessions will be held in a large facility.  Please submit your presentation in either PowerPoint or .pdf.  

• Only Single screen presentations are supported.

• Name your file in accordance with the instructions that you will be given.  I do not want to have 1,000 files called Symposium.ppt.  The files should not be locked or restricted in any matter, making both our jobs easier in publishing proceedings and in being consistent with our central theme of providing technical information to the community for actual use. Please use the following naming convention:

• Presentation: S07_PaperTitle_Lastname_Presentation.ppt  (e.g., 106_katz_presentation.ppt)

• Identification: On each page of your paper and presentation, include the following in the footer:
Left Side - Last name of the first author or group name (optional)
Center - Page Number (required)



• Backgrounds: The presentations should be on a white or very simple background.  White always works and what looks great on your PC at work may look horrible when projected, so be conservative to ensure high production values.  Dark backgrounds are not needed and make printing difficult and expensive.

• Practice: Make sure that you do several dry runs of your talk.  This will ensure that you finish on time.  Also, the presentation will be smoother and the evaluation forms will be a bit happier.  From our experience, it is very obvious when people have not performed dry runs.  Please, spend an hour or so practicing.

• Focus Your Talk: Be careful that your talk is not too abstract or too project-specific.  Also, do not try to cover every good point in your work and wind up rushing through the material, losing the audience.  For your dry runs, it is a good idea to find some engineers who know little or nothing about your work.

• Define your acronyms.  You may include a slide with an acronym list if you like.  Of course, do not speak in TLAs.

• Practice Some More: Sharpen your speaking skills; stay to the main points, minimize "fluff."   Again, this will make the evaluation form happier.

• Talk to the audience, not to the screen.  Talking to the screen is generally a sign of not having performed dry runs, often presents the audience with a less-than-flattering view, and often results in poor audio, as your head is turned away from the microphones.  Feel free to bring notes to the podium on a hardcopy of your presentation with key points highlighted if that makes you more comfortable.  We are engineers, not professional orators, and bringing notes is perfectly fine; I often do that.

• Laser pointers seldom are very effective as the small dot tends to move too much.   An alternative that is simple and effective is to place large arrows at key spots of the slide which you wish to reference; you may add letters to them if you need to point to multiple spots and use color.  At a minimum, letters should be used to accommodate any colorblind people in the audience and monochrome printing.  Saying, "the flip-flop in the circuit pointed to by the red arrow labeled A can go metastable ..." is preferable to waving the laser pointer around and making people in the first three rows "spacesick."

• Time: Oral presentations will be generally 20 minutes in duration.   Following the presentation, there will be nominally 5 minutes of question and answer time, moderated by the Session Chairperson.  Session Chairperson can move to the next paper if there are few questions or let the conversation continue.

Adapted from: