Presentation Guidelines

Here are some tips to help you give an effective presentation as well as typical grading criteria for presentations. Scan each point and identify the skills you can improve upon to make your presentation more effective.

  • Familiarize yourself with the topic. Read the paper three times or more, until you understand all of the details. If there are concepts in the paper you do not understand, seek out references and study them.

  • Decide what is important. Think about what you would want the audience to know when you have finished your presentation. Keep in mind that your audience can only absorb about three major points during your short presentation. As you prepare your material, your job is to select those three key points and present them clearly and effectively.

  • Outline your talk. Focus on the important ideas first, and the details to explain these ideas second. Keep in mind you should give the audience only the facts necessary to understand the main ideas; too much information will overwhelm the audience, and too little information will leave the audience either with a sketchy understanding of your topic.

  • Use visual aids. Well-planned visual aids add interest and emphasis to your presentation, and you can clarify and simplify your message because they communicate clearly, quickly, and vividly. Charts, illustrations and pictures greatly increase audience understanding and retention of the information. Do not cram your slides full of information. Don't be sparse, either.

  • Practice your presentation. Begin by familiarizing yourself with the sequence of the material -- major ideas, notes, and visuals in your outline. Once you feel comfortable with the content, you are ready to practice the presentation itself. Practice out loud, look at the audience most of the time (not at the screen or projector), use movement, use gestures, adjust your vocal inflection and pace, and project your voice. Humor (jokes) in a talk is a good idea, if you are comfortable doing this.

  • Talk with me as you plan your presentation. Meet with me one week in advance to show a sketch of your talk with an outline for each slide. This is a requirement, not a suggestion.

A Generic Talk Outline.

  • Title/Presenter (1 slide)
  • Forecast (1 slide). Introduce the problem attacked and insights found (what is the one idea you want people to leave with?)
  • Outline (1 slide). Give the talk structure. Audiences like predictability.
  • Problem Statement and Motivation (1-2 slides). (Why should anyone care?)
  • Proposed Solution(s) (4-5 slides) Present key ideas and key insights. This is main body of the talk.
  • Summary (1 slide).
  • Backup Slides (0-3 slides) Optionally have a few slides ready in case questions arise.

Typical Grading Criteria.

Criteria influencing your evaluation include preparation, confidence, eye contact, tone and pace, and completeness. Presentation grades reflect these attributes:

A (Exceptional) - High quality presentation

B (Above Average) - Appropriate, relevant and good quality presentation

C (Average) - Sufficient, somewhat relevant and adequate quality presentation

D (Passing) - Less than sufficient, lacking relevance, and less than average adequacy in quality of presentation

F (Failing) - Unacceptable presentation