Guidelines for Preparation of Effective Oral Presentations

Podium presentations are scheduled into 15-minute time slots. To allow time for scientific interchange, presenters should try to dedicate 2-5 minutes within that time limit for questions. Like a poster, a good oral presentation should:

  1. define the problem or state the central question being addressed;
  2. indicate its importance;
  3. tell what was done;
  4. state what was found; and
  5. consider the broader implications of the findings.

It is not possible to cite all previous work, provide detailed descriptions of methods, or include all the data obtained in a 10-12 minute talk. A good presenter seeks to make a single point, and to make it simply, clearly, and concisely. Oral presentations are greatly enhanced by the use of good visual material. Good visuals convey the essential material of the talk, including key points and research results. They allow the listener to both see and hear; this enhances understanding. To maximize the effectiveness of your talk, please consider the specific suggestions below and then practice, practice, practice.

Presenters are required to upload their presentations in advance of their talk rather than directly to the computers in the individual session rooms. All talks will be immediately deleted following the talk.

Speakers need to check in to the Speaker Ready Room at least ½ day before your presentation. Talks will be sent electronically into session rooms and immediately deleted following the talk.

TO BE CLEAR: Los Angeles podium presenters have two upload tasks. One is required and one is optional but encouraged:

  1. REQUIRED: Go to the Speaker Ready room in Los Angeles at least 1/2 day before your session to upload and check your presentation slides
  2. OPTIONAL BUT STRONGLY ENCOURAGED: Upload at any time a video of your presentation to the X-CD platform so that the online audience can view it

Specific Suggestions for Your Presentation:

Many of the suggestions below increase accessibility for attendees. In addition to these suggestions, this page has specific recommendations for increasing slide accessibility. Powerpoint also has a built-in accessibility checker. More information on accessibility in Powerpoint can be found here.

Clear purpose: Effective visuals and talks make a single main point and tell a unified, coherent story. Organize your talk around a central theme. Develop a clear train of thought that does not get bogged down in detail. Provide a conclusion that summarizes the main points, and raises the important issues posed by the material you presented.

Freedom from non-essential information: Unless the purpose of the talk is to present research methods or techniques, omit all but the key methodological details. Save non-essential information for responding to questions during the discussion period.

Graphs, diagrams, and tables: Study results are best presented in graphic form. Diagrams can be used to present research design or study hypotheses. Avoid tables, especially those with more than a few rows and columns. Simplify your presentation so that you do not have to tell your audience “I know you can’t read the table in this slide but …” Keep graphs and diagrams simple. Avoid gratuitous three-dimensional graphs that provide no more information than their two-dimensional equivalents. 

Language and images: We ask scholars in all subdisciplines of biological anthropology to please carefully consider the language used and images chosen to describe your research. Offensive language and images should not be used.  In addition, please be mindful of whether the language in your presentation may inadvertently contribute to marginalization of underrepresented groups in biological anthropology.  Please consider each image carefully to avoid unintended harm and if an image is essential but may cause difficulty for some viewers, please consider contextualizing or alerting audience members in advance.

Word slides: If you use bullet or word slides – keep them simple and short. Do not use full sentences. Do not include more than 5-7 lines per slide (acknowledgements excepted).

Powerpoint subtitles: To make your presentation accessible to all AABA attendees, we request that all podium presenters use the subtitles capability within Powerpoint. This features allows voice-to-text transcription (i.e., captions) below your slides. The podium laptops will be setup to facilitate this. Unfortunately, Keynote software does not have this capability and we therefore prefer Powerpoint. If you’d like to read more about this functionality, see here.

Projection of presentations: IBM-compatible laptops will be available at the podium for projection of PowerPoint, OpenOffice, or Adobe Acrobat presentations. Do not bring a personal laptop to the podium!  Please bring your presentation on a USB drive to the Speaker Ready Room for upload. Mac users must add the “.ppt” extension to the end of the filename. Use common fonts such as Times Roman, Arial, and Helvetica. Under Page Setup, the presentation should be set to “On-screen show.” If you use the “Pack and Go” feature of PowerPoint, have the original .ppt file available on the USB device just in case. Please virus check your entire USB device. A final word to the wise: Always check your presentation on an IBM-compatible computer other than the one on which you prepared the presentation. This is the easiest way to detect compatibility “issues” before heading to the airport/podium.

Audio-visual equipment: AABA provides laser pointers, microphones, equipment for computer projection. Given the very low demand and high price for overhead and traditional slide projectors these media services are not provided.

***Simplicity and Legibility are Keys to Effective Oral Presentations***