Oral papers are intended to formally present new and groundbreaking research. They should be limited to 20 minutes in length, and there is 5 minutes scheduled for questions after each one. However, given past experience, the number of minutes available for questions varies dramatically according to the tendency for presenters to go over their allotted 20 minutes, as well as transitions between papers and cancellations.
- Consider a Powerpoint “show” (*.pps or *.ppsx) format rather than a “presentation” (*.ppt or *.pptx) format. When you double-click the icon it immediately starts your slideset rather than having to open it manually after Powerpoint begins.
- Use fewer than 30 slides. Although the amount of time each slide should appear on screen may vary widely, any presentation with more than 30 slides generally has a slim chance of keeping to the 20 minute limit.
- Slides should be readable from a distance and the choice of text/background colors should enhance readability not detract from it. Often black text on a white background is not the best choice, as it may be too bright. Try different combinations.
- Text presented on a slide should be short and to the point. Bulleted text is usually the best option. Do not just read the text off of your slides. Ideally, bulleted slide text should be your key points but can be used to help keep your speaking on track.
- Choose images wisely. Good images are the best way of making your point(s) and keeping your audience engaged. Bad images are difficult to explain, hard to see, or may have long unreadable captions.
- Consider not using large tables or complicated charts; there usually is not enough time for the audience to read them. If you do need to use a table or chart, use color-coding to emphasize and draw focus to the cells or values that are important.
- If you are concerned about going over your allotted time, then reduce the number of slides and try again: to stay on time is mandatory.
As an audience member, when you raise a question for the speaker consider others who may also have a question – try not to dominate the entire 5 minutes. Also, if the question is highly technical, it may be more appropriate to ask the speaker face to face during a coffee break.