While presentation styles have some subjectivity and depend on the community you are presenting to, here’s an overview of some relevant advice that will help your slide decks suport you as you present your work to an audience. As I revise this page, I will also link to some of my favorite presentation advice documents that others have written.

Finally, these notes are incomplete, and thus I will continue adding to this page as I have the time.

Content Selection

Many times, a presentation is on a research project, a paper, your thesis, or a combination of these things. Regardless of what it is, you will almost certainly be unable to fit everything from that work into an oral presentation. That means you will have to be selective, know your audience, and start by identifying what absolutely must be conveyed. In some cases, if your talk is really short (5-7 minutes or even one minute), then your focus may be on trying to say the important information that will convince your audience that they want to read your paper and that it will be interesting to them. No matter the length though, the following is probably going to work as a good foundation. What each of these points corresponds to will still be domain and audience dependent though.

  • Problem statement: what is the space you are in, why is it important, what is the nature of the problem
  • Methodology: you don't need every detail about how you did this work, but the basic idea should be conveyed. Theory (theorems, proofs, proof automation)? Empirical Experiments (datasets, simulations)? HCI (Interviews, surveys...)?
  • Core results: depending on the length of the presentation you may not be able to highlight all your results. Focus on the most important ones, the ones that are impactful, or even are your favorite.
  • Takeaway: what should people leave your talk knowing, how can your work change or help with things they may be working on

Slide Layouts

Some of these you may consider more of a stylistic choice rather than strongly advisable, but I have included some explanations to help you determine whether they make sense for your presentation

  • Words: They should be very very very LARGE. Your audience may be sitting far away, the projector might be a bit terrible, you want the audience to be able to read it! And if you don't want them to read it why is it there? Your slides only have so much space and you want to use it to its most impactful. You also want them to be brief and to the point. If there is too much text, it will be crowded, but it will also risk the audience being busy reading it all and not hearing you. Similarly, the words should be key points, you won't (shouldn't) be reading off the slides.
  • Figures: they should be LARGE. If the audience is unable to see and read the figure clearly, it is not doing its job. The axis labels and key should have much larger fonts than they likely had in the paper. Avoid just copying over your (surely beautiful) LaTex figures and tables. These figures don't even have to be the same as the paper, maybe for your presentation it makes sense to put some on the same slide to make your point that otherwise were not. Make sure that when comparing figures/graphs, your y-axis matches, having one for instance go up to 100% and the other go up to 40% side by side can result in misunderstandings at a glance.
  • White space: have plenty. If your slide is too crowded, things will be missed. Ideally, you want to make it easy for people to identify the important points. White space can also help divide things when you want to convey more than one concept on a slide.
  • Slide numbers: including these helps if people want to reference a particular slide when they ask you a question as well as allows you to track your progress even in the case where you may not have a presenter view and can only see your slides

The Last Slide

  • Has key points/takeaways/conclusion: Two main reasons for this. (1) It reminds people what you spoke about as the question period occurs and (2) It may prompt new questions from people because they can read the summary and it sparks something they didn't quite understand or might find interesting. In addition to these two points, depending on how long the question period is, this slide might be up for awhile, why not have it emphasize why your work is interesting!!
  • Has your name and your talk title (somewhere): I tend to put my name in a footer at the bottom of my slide, but you can do whatever you like. One nice reason to do this is sometimes at multi-track conferences someone might be hopping between tracks and miss your talk as they come there for the next one. They see your nice summary points and think "Oh! That's interesting! Who's work is this? What is the title of the paper?" You want this information easily visible.
  • (Optional) Thank you/Questions: Having one of these popup alongside your key points when you are done helps signal to your audiene that the talk is over. How you do this is largely up to you, but I do advise on keeping the key points about your talk still on the slide even when you have the thank you/questions component appear.

Selection of other advice links