Oral Presentations: Tips, Significance, Design, Guidelines & Presentation


1) Know your audience

It is always a good idea to structure your talk so that anyone in the audience can understand 
what you are presenting. A good scientist should be able to present complex, scientific ideas, 
no matter how technical, in a simple, easy to follow manner. Complexity is not a necessity, it is an annoyance.

Understand your purpose. This way you can get the point of your talk across appropriately and affectively by 
catering to your specific audience. 

2) Be organized

  • Whether you are giving a 15 minute talk or a 45 minute talk, make sure you give yourself 
    enough time to deliver all the information you want in a calm manner. Allocate time for questions/answers.
  • Be able to summarize your presentation in five minutes.
  • Be concise. Use your space wisely. Use illustrations. Check grammar, spelling, and lay out of each slide.
  • Keep an outline with you during the presentation; it will help you stay on track.
  • Prepare back up slides. These will come in handy if a question comes up about a topic that needs 
    further explanation.


3) Presentation

Practice your talk enough so that you have flow, but no so much that you have the entire talk memorized. 
Memorizing your talk will bore you and your audience, as it will be monotonous.

4) Be professional

  • Know what you are presenting and be ready to answer question during and after the presentation. 
    Do not answer questions vaguely. A knowledgeable scientist is specific and accurate with his/her information.
  • Dress up to present with confidence and respect for the audience and the science involved.
  • Be enthusiastic. Scientific talks can be boring, as often they are full of technical jargon. Be clear and talk simplistically.
  • Make sure the presentation is visually pleasing. Add pertinent graphics and use fewer words.


5) Be aware of technical problems.

Make sure the format you choose for your presentation is compatible with your style of speech. 
Also, be prepared for technical disasters just before your talk. Be able to give your talk in another format 
just in case your first choice (ex: PowerPoint presentation) fails to load.


Oral presentations are an excellent means of communicating basic science or clinical research. 
Unlike a poster presentation or a written manuscript, the audience during an oral presentation is more 
attentive as they are focused on the presenter. For the researcher, this is a rare opportunity to shine! 
In as few as five minutes, the researcher can convey scientific information and give a years worth work 
some meaning that can be useful to thousands of people. Of course, this also means that in as little as 
five minutes, the researcher can cause a great deal of confusion by giving a bad presentation.

Just as is the case with written manuscripts and poster presentations, oral presentations must also 
communicate research to include all aspects of the scientific method. There are, however, no rules as to 
what order and which format this should be done in. In order to deliver a successful talk, the presenter 
should be organized, prepared, and enthusiastic about the research being presented.

Design: A General Guideline

Regardless of whether you choose a PowerPoint presentation or transparencies to deliver your talk, 
here are some general guidelines to keep in mind when designing your presentation.

1) Title (include authors and affiliations)

2) Introduction (Background, Purpose, Hypothesis)

3) Method (A brief introduction to the methodology without too much technical Jargon)

4) Results (Use graphs/charts/table, Provide an extra slide/transparency with a summary of the results, Explain the results)

5) Conclusions/Discussion (Clear explanation of the results, Clinical implications)

6) Future work (Provide information on where the project is headed)

7) Acknowledgment


There some people for whom public speaking is as natural as having a conversation with their friends. 
Conveniently, however, public speaking is an art that can be perfected with enough practice. 
Here some things to consider before and during the presentation:

  • Do not go over the time limit.
  • Speak clearly and concisely. Be coherent. Do not ramble, play with the pointer, or move around in circles.
  • Dress appropriately.
  • Make eye contact.
  • Make sure that each slide/transparency is not cluttered with too many points and ideas. Graphs, tables, 
    and charts should be clearly labeled and easy to interpret.
  • Practice your talk, but do not memorize a script.
  • Be visually and orally interesting.
  • Answer questions in a calm, non-condescending manner; do not argue with or interrupt the questioner.
  • Be polite and graceful.
  • Give a presentation that is focused with one underlying message.