Speaker Guidelines

10 point guide to oral presentation preparation

Download these instructions as a pdf at the bottom of the page

  1. Audience: Put yourself in the shoes of the audience, and constantly try to consider what they might reasonably know, or not know.

    For example, an attendee at the conference might not have an especially mathematical background, so be careful of jumping in at the deep end of your topic.
  2. Purpose: Define three main points you would like the audience to have understood after you have finished. Only include information and content if it is related to these points. Be ruthless, but make sure you don't miss any important links.
  3. Motivation: Use the motivation of your project to capture the attention of the audience. If they are interested here, they will follow you happily through more technical details.
  4. Structure: Use a clearly defined structure, one the audience is familiar with makes it easier to follow. For example, Title, Content, Motivation, Method, Results, Conclusion.
  5. Quantity: It is really important to stick to timing, so that you are able to make the point you want at the end. Mostly this is achieved by getting the quantity correct. For example, use one slide per minute, if you feel the urge to add more than this, it might be too much to cover in the time. Flicking through more slides than this is hard to follow for the audience.
  6. Quality: Try to make the slides a clear to understand as possible. Less can often be more. For example, avoid heavy blocks of text. The audience will be inclined to read it, and they then stop listening to you.
  7. Graphics: Make the most of graphical tools, these transverse language barriers well, and are easy to concentrate on for the audience.  For example, using graphs, charts and pictures is excellent, but only include them if they are clear, and you will have time to talk the audience through the axes, and variables displayed. Check they are visible on a projector for the other side of the room.
  8. Timing: This comes from practice. Don't rush what you are saying, and don't be afraid to try a few different ways of saying something when practicing.
  9. Body language and Voice: Relax. This conference for many speakers is one of the first times they have presented their work to peers and the conference prides itself on its friendly atmosphere. The more relaxed you are, the more the audience will take from your presentation. Microphones will be available so speak clearly rather than loudly.
  10. Practice: There is no substitute for practice, even just to an empty room, but other options include, in front of peers, friends or anyone you can get to listen. The more you practice it, the better it will sound on the day.