Graduate School of Engineering, Tohoku University

Yusa Laboratory


Notes on preparing your presentations


General tips


  • Prepare slides "to be seen."
    Let your audience "see" your slides - not "read" your slides. Your presentation consists of your slides' visual information and your verbal explanation. In other words, your slides should visually illustrate what you cannot verbally explain.
  • Include only what you can explain.
    You must be able to discuss your presentation's content, which means don't include anything you don't understand. You should not simply copy others' work without comprehending its meaning.
  • Prepare an appropriate number of slides.
    In general, present one slide per minute. Therefore, the number of slides for a 15 minute presentation should be around 15, especially if you are a beginner. Note that the time limit for presentations. If you go over, you will be seriously marked down.
  • Do not try to explain everything you did.
    More information leads to less understanding. It is difficult but important to decide what to remove from your presentation. Focus on the most important issue and delete that doesn't help others.
  • Respect all copyrights.
    This means all charts, images, video clips, and so on. If you have used a source, whether in print or online, it must be properly cited. Presenting others' work without proper citation is regarded as a serious violation of academic rules.
  • Make your slides simple.
    Avoid using too many colors, decorations, or animations. It is tempting to use a variety of techniques to make your slides, but effective presentation slides are simple, clear, and consistent.

Beginners' typical mistakes

  • Too much information in presentation,
  • Too many sentences on each slide,
  • Use of intricate animations,
  • Overuse of similar data (with different experimental conditions),
  • Use of complicated graphs,
  • Large gap between background and purpose sections,
  • Use of "original" abbreviations,
  • Not distinguishing between your work and others' work.

More slide guidelines

  • Minimize the number of sentences.
    Remember, slides should be visual. Limit your words to short summaries or phrases.
  • Use a large font size.
    Avoid using fonts smaller than 20 points to ensure everyone in the audience can read them.
  • Number slides.
    Insert a slide number in a consistent spot, such as in the bottom right of each slide. This helps you and your audience assess your presentation and the time limit. Slide numbers also lead to a smooth Q&A after your presentation.
  • Identify section titles with numbers.
    Use this numerical order 1. Introduction, 2. Purpose, 3. Method, and so on. Section titles help your audience understand the structure of your presentation.
  • Prepare a "Contents" page.
    If your presentation is over 10 minutes, include one slide that lists all items to be presented.
  • Don't use a table to explain your results.
    You shouldn't present your results in a table format because it requires your audience to "read" the values presented. Present simple slides with figures to explain your results.
  • Use strong colors in your figures.
    Avoid using yellow, green, and other light colors in your figures because they are difficult for your audiences to see clearly. Consider strong colors, such as black, red, and blue.
  • Present comparisons on one slide.
    If you want to compare two figures, present them on the same slide. Don't make your audience remember what was presented on previous slides.
  • Use a consistent line style throughout the presentation.
    Do not use different line styles to represent the same thing (such as an experimental condition). If data obtained under Condition A is represented by a red line in one figure, use red to represent Condition A in all other figures.
  • Itemize consistently.
    Ensure that the words and phrases in your presentation are also consistent. If you start with short sentences, use the throughout. If you start with short phrases, use short phrases throughout. In other words, set a style and stick with it.
  • All figures and tables need concise captions.
    Effective short captions help your audience to identify what you are explaining.


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