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Guidelines for Oral Presentations

Presentation Length, File Formats and other Housekeeping

Oral presentations should be no longer than 12 minutes in length with a further 3 minutes for questions unless you have been otherwise advised by the Secretariat, Scientific Committee Chair or the Chair of the session in which you are presenting. Each presentation will have a discussion period during the session during which questions may be answered. Most sessions will also include a general discussion period facilitated by the session chair during which further questions may be answered.

In order to ensure the smooth running of the program and avoid any potential technological issues relating to the running of the presentations themselves, we have a policy of first collating the sessions' presentations prior to the session itself, and of testing these first to ensure their performance. It is at this point that all the presentations will be tested for functionality. Should any issues be noted, enough time will be available to address these.

Presentations should be handed in at the designated audiovisual laptop in the Secretariat office according to the timetable which will be on display. As a general rule, presentations should be handed in before the beginning of the session prior to the session in which you are presenting.


Presenters will be asked for a final time to confirm if the recorded presentation can be posted online. Presenters are expected to ensure that their presentations include all relevant acknowledgements and that the materials used in their presentations (incl. photographs and other images) do not breach copyright.

Please be aware that we will be utilising the latest version of PowerPoint. In order to ensure that there is no distortion/image loss during the course of your talk, it is requested that all presentations are built using the widescreen template dimensions (16:9). Please note: the following formats are NOT supported: saving to PowerPoint 95 (or earlier) file formats, and Pack and Go Wizard (.ppz) files.

In the past, some presenters have requested that allowance for embedded videos also be made. If you would like to follow up on this option, please could you contact (Noel,, and Pragna, regarding the specifics.


An oral presentation goes past the audience only once, so it must be well organized, logically developed, stripped of details that divert the audience's attention from the essential points, and smoothly delivered. The goal of a presentation is to communicate why the research/project was undertaken, how it was done, what was learnt, and most importantly, what the implications or lessons for conservation are. In the Conservation Symposium, we are less interested in the methods and more interested in the implications, lessons and recommendations. Please keep the background and methods sections very brief. Communicate this clearly, succinctly and convincingly.

Preparing the Presentation:

1. Presenting a paper isn't merely a case of paraphrasing it. Certain parts need to be stripped down, while others need more "airtime". Usually, the methods section can be edited down to the bare bones - if people have questions about the methods, they will come out in the question session at the end. While methods are edited down, results should get more airtime.

2. Start with providing background information, drawing from the introduction, other studies, and even the discussion, if you need to, and then end the introduction section with a concise statement of the specific question or questions addressed.

3. Present the study in sections if it is composed of a number of small experiments or investigations. Draw conclusions from each section of the study, as you present them, to make the link between the finding and the conclusions stronger. You need to lead the audience from point to point. For example, if you tackled a number of experiments/studies in the paper, present each separately i.e. first specific question, methods, key results, some discussion (and how it might have led you to pose the second question), and then onto the next question (question, methods, key results, discussion... etc.).

4. Summarize the major findings of the research at the end of the talk, taking care to make each point separately.

Making the Presentation:

1. Practice makes not-so-nervous. Most of us get nervous when giving a presentation. One study apparently found that people are more afraid of public speaking than death! One way to minimize your nerves is to practise your presentation. The more you have practised, the more you will be able to reassure yourself that you know what you are going to say and how you are going to say it. Always remember, you know more about your talk than anyone else in the room.

2. Don't rush.

3. Make your visual aids work for you. Draw the audience's attention to, say, trends in the data, or even interesting things you might have captured on film. Visual aids are meant to facilitate your communication, not just make the audience stare at the screen, instead of you. Another point about making the visual aids work for you - if, when you need to, you are able to use the laser pointer without shaking too much, then, by all means, do so, it really helps to lead the audience to the point you're trying to make. If you can't, rather refer to, say, "the lower line", or "the line in blue" or "graph on the left-hand side"

4. Be clear on unfamiliar terms: Make sure that unfamiliar terms that you use are presented in the visual aids. This is particularly true for abbreviations. For example, if you use "NDVIs" in your presentation, be sure to put what the abbreviation stands for up on the visual aids.

5. Don't mumble, make eye contact with the audience, and try to sound interested in what you're saying. If making eye contact makes you nervous, try looking over people's shoulders at ear level!

6. Warn your audience that the end is near. Slip in a phrase like, "One final point..." or, even, "In conclusion...", or just plain old "Finally,..."

7. End your talk by thanking the audience for their attention. Also thank your co-authors, sponsors, etc. if you have not done so already.

8. Stick to the time limit. Not doing so suggests you were unable to highlight the salient points of your research. It also is inconsiderate to the audience and the conference organisers.

9. Handling questions: If you have the presence of mind to do so, paraphrase a question before answering it to help those in the audience who may have not heard the question correctly. Also, don't be afraid to say you don't know the answer to a question.

Visual Aids:

1. Make sure visual aids are large enough to be visible to the audience at the back of the room. Err on the side of caution if you have no idea how large the venue is going to be.

2. Go for contrast - a guideline is to use either light text on a dark background or vice versa. Be aware of colour-blind people (more common than one thinks) who often struggle to distinguish reds from greens and colours similar in tone.

3. No RED!! It is best to avoid using RED in graphics and text at all as it is difficult for most people to distinguish.

4. Try to avoid too much text on slides. It can be quite boring. If you must have text, try to introduce each point as you go along, otherwise, the audience tends to read on ahead while you're still discussing the first point.

5. The audience loves pictures and photographs.

6. Maps, etc. all help make the point.

7. Rework figures. A figure presented in an oral presentation has to be instantly comprehensible. To facilitate this, enlarge the text labelling your axes. If you have two lines on a graph, make it clear which is which with clear labelling) (see example below). Even better, if you are a whiz with PowerPoint, introduce the lines onto the graph separately.

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