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A presentation of a scientific paper should be a summary account of the study and should include only the data that support the key findings and the conclusions. Below are a set of guidelines and tips designed to help you prepare your oral presentation: 

Part 1: General Tips 

  • Begin the presentation by stating what kind of study you have done and what key points you are going to demonstrate. 
  • Tell the audience what you are going to present, present the data, and then give your interpretation, conclusions, and implications.  
  • Note that in a 10-minute presentation, you can only give a summary of a study. There will be no time to explain everything you did or everything you found out during the study.  
  • Focus on the data that supports your main findings and conclusions.  

Part 2: Tips for Preparing Slides:  

  • Slides should contain only important and useful data and text.  
  • Leave out all unnecessary lines, words, data points, or extraneous material.  
  • Slides should be horizontal rather than vertical format. 
  • Text slides should use no more than six bulleted text items, and no more than eight lines of text.  
  • It is best not to use three-dimensional slides.  
  • Each slide should present a single concept: Use keywords, do not use sentences.  
  • Do not read from your slides when presenting.  
  • Follow the order of text 
  • Keep the verb form consistent  
  • Keep the same style of bullet at each level of bullet  
  • Keep capitalization consistent  
  • Use one of the following types: Sans serif bold, Arial, Humanist, Optima, and Swiss (Helvetica) are recommended typefaces. Avoid Times New Roman, Courier, Complex, and Italic typefaces.  
  • Highlight titles with larger size and bold text. Black-on-clear slides:  
  • Black on clear/white slides have a good contrast that can be easily read in a lit room.  
  • Color slides: Most presenters’ slides are now in color, a recommended color scheme is a dark blue background with white or yellow text.  

Note that distracting slides have too much:  

  • Information.  
  • Color. 
  • Use of symbols. 
  • Slick packaging.  

Effective slides are: 

  • Simple. 
  • Clear.  
  • Visible.  

Final comment: If your audience remembers more about the composition and appearance of your slides than your message, you’ve failed! 

Part 3: Tips for Preparing Your Presentation: 

  • Keep in mind that you will be communicating the key findings and importance of your study to a diverse audience.  
  • Focus on presenting your message clearly to everyone in the audience, rather than on impressing them with the complexity and enormity of your investigation.  
  • Focus on a few key issues and give supporting data for them, rather than presenting many points superficially.  
  • Use clear, plain, direct language in your text.  
  • Explain epidemiologic associations clearly:  
  • Always present the case definitions used 
  • Use sentences that describe the people studied, rather than the risk factor in question 
  • Since most epidemiological studies are observational studies (not clinical trials) it is appropriate to express findings in terms of proportions (percentages of cases and controls with a given factor) and the likelihood that the observed findings occurred by chance (i.e., p-value)  
  • When presenting cohort data, use rates and relative risks with confidence intervals. When presenting case-control data, use odds ratios and confidence intervals  
  • Use incidence vs. prevalence correctly Orient the audience to each slide that presents a figure. Do this by explaining to the audience what is represented by the x-axis, y-axis, and each series in the figure. Do not project a slide with a figure on the screen and comment, without looking up and using a pointer. A little humor is acceptable if you have a solid presentation.

Part 4: Tips for Giving an Effective Presentation 

  • Rehearse!  
  • Practice! Practice! Practice!  
  • Do not begin your presentation at the symposium until you are ready.  
  • Speak slowly and project your voice. 
  • Check that the correct slide is projecting.  
  • Make the most of the question-and-answer period.  
  • Take the time to make sure you understand the question. It is very common for a presenter to find it hard to understand or remember the question asked especially if the questioner asks a long question or series of questions.  
  • Feel free to ask the questioner for clarification or to repeat the question. 
  • Pause for a while to think out your answer. 
  •  Take a deep breath and gather your thoughts. What may seem like a panic-stricken eternity to you will merely seem like a thoughtful pause to your audience  
  • Keep in mind that you know more about your own investigation than the audience.  
  • Give short, direct answers.  
  • Sometimes you can anticipate some questions and rehearse answers ahead of time.  
  • Consider all questions to be queries for information and treat them that way even if they may sound hostile to you. Avoid projecting a defensive attitude.  
  • Don’t feel that you have to give an answer when you can’t or there isn’t one. If you are well prepared and confident, you can answer “I don’t know” comfortably.