Symposium Presentation Guidelines

Presentation Guidelines (PDF)

Whether you are presenting orally, visually, through a poster, a performance, or a display keep these tips in mind:

  • Establish early a clear and unifying point that you want to make.

  • Explain the applicability of your research.

  • When presenting your information, be sensitive to those outside your discipline.

  • Make sure to include or discuss the following sections, if applicable: Abstract, Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion, Conclusion, References, and Acknowledgements.

  • Make sure that your presentation material is readable, grammatically correct, and has been proofread thoroughly.

  • Always acknowledge your sponsors and mentors. Also provide credit for text, graphs, etc.

  • Cite sources to support your ideas and provide credibility to your findings.

  • Be proud of your work, but acknowledge errors. Explain unexpected results and any future research that might be needed.

  • Present to friends and family and invite their feedback. Ask them about what they learned to see if you were successful in getting your point across.

  • Anticipate possible questions and how you might respond.

  • Bring a pen and pad of paper for notes and to record names and addresses of contacts.

  • Always be truthful in presenting your information, and respect your audience.


In addition to the traditional oral presentations, we also encourage performing/visual arts presentations. This includes music, dance, theater, drawing, painting, photography, sculpture, video, etc. Performing and visual arts presenters can request a dance or drama space, a multimedia player, and/or a piano for their presentation in the Presentation & Abstract Submission Form.

A faculty moderator will be keeping track of your presentation time and may also facilitate the discussion. A student volunteer will be assigned to each room, as well, to assist you, other presenters, and the faculty moderator.

Please assume that all equipment requested in your application will be provided, unless we contact you to ask that you bring your presentation on a different medium.

In addition to grouping presentations by subject of research, we have also grouped them by equipment requests. If you are doing a PowerPoint presentation, it is recommended that you also bring a backup version of your file(s) in case there is a technical problem.

Prepare your visual aids well in advance and make sure they are clear. Use visual aids where appropriate in oral presentations because many people learn better visually, especially if they are not familiar with the subject. Also, people remember more of what they read than what they hear.

Keep words to a minimum on slides and other visual aids; make sure they are readable from the back of the room. Words should be large enough to read from several feet away, but don’t use all caps. Avoid using light colors for words, such as yellow or orange. The size of the typeface should be at least 12 point.

Number your visual aids so you always know the order in case they get dropped or misplaced.

If you are using PowerPoint slides in your presentation, don’t linger on one image for more than five minutes. After presenting the image, eliminate or block the projection source so that the audience will focus back on your talk.

Consider your purpose in distributing handouts because they might distract your audience. Give handouts prior to or during your presentation only if they are necessary for clarity during your talk. Otherwise, provide handouts at the end.

When presenting statistical data, make the significance of it clear. In presenting equations, always define your constants and independent and dependent variables. Your discussion should focus on the relationship between the variables.

Face the audience—don’t talk to your screen or note cards. Reiterate major points at the end to conclude.

The Art of Speaking

  • Make an outline of your speech to help you organize the ideas. Write notes for your presentation as you would normally talk—not too formal, but not casual either.

  • You don’t have to memorize your speech; make note cards as guides (number the cards just in case they get mixed up).

  • Make eye contact with your audience.

  • Speak slowly and project your voice.

  • Use the podium and pointer as needed.

Types of Visual Aids

  • Computer projections

  • Videos

  • Enlarged charts or figures and posters

  • Actual objects for display


If you are displaying a poster, you will find out during registration the specific location where you may exhibit your poster. Your poster will be displayed on an easel provided by UROP (you can request a table instead if that better suits your presentation material).

Poster presentations must be on 3’ or 4’ (height) by 4’ (width) poster board. Presentations should be prepared on poster board in advance. If this is not possible because of difficulty transporting your poster board, poster board can be requested for the day of the symposium. Please note that we are providing only 3’ (height) by 4’(width) sized poster board. Pushpins, glue, and other materials needed to assemble the poster board will be provided (a room for poster assembly will also be available).

Space on a poster is limited, so pick wisely what to present. Your display should be self-explanatory and have a logical flow—others should be able to follow the order even if you are not present. Start with a rough draft of your design on paper, using graph paper or even post-it notes to simulate sections.

Place your title at the top of the poster and make sure that the text is large (usually at least 2 inches in height) and clear. Include your name and major, and the name of your faculty mentor and his/her department name, the name of your school and the names of other co-authors. Incorporate appropriate graphics in your poster. Label or describe any charts, tables, figures, graphs, or photos that you use. Make sure all edges line up evenly. Edit, review, and spell check all the elements of your poster display. Be sure to firmly attach all materials to your poster board (spray adhesive, found in art supply stores, works best).

During the poster session, stand to the side of your display so that you don’t block it. Prepare and practice a short summary speech about your project. This time is an excellent networking possibility so it is important to speak and interact professionally. You will also receive lots of feedback and exposure as well.

Elements of Style

  • Don’t use more than two fonts. Instead use bold, italic and font size to set type differently. Times New Roman, Arial, and Garamond are suggested typefaces.

  • Stick to a simple color scheme (try a couple that complement or contrast with each other such as black or navy on white). Try mounting text and figures on colored paper, or using some colored font.

  • Be consistent with your white space between sections of text, figures and headings; white space should be ample so the poster doesn’t look crammed.

Poster Font Sizes

  • Titles should be at least 2 inches high.

  • The body type for the main sections should be at least 18 point if possible.

  • Words should be large enough to read from several feet away, but don’t use all caps.