Dissemination Toolkit: Effective Presentations

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Attending a conference this year? Below are tips on speaking, designing slides, perfecting a project elevator speech, and formatting and designing a poster. Whether you are just an attendee or a keynote speaker, there should be something of interest to you.

CADRE compiles a list of STEM education-related conferences with links to the conference websites and submission deadlines for session proposals: Conferences for STEM Educators, Policymakers, and Researchers

There are a lot of tips on the Web for how to prepare an effective and engaging presentation. Here are six resources with advice:

  • DO-IT Presentation Tips
    Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology gives detailed advice on how to give a quality presentation.
  • P2iTools
    American Evaluation Association (AEA) has created a series of checklists and worksheets to help you in preparing your presentation, including resources on planning, message, design, and delivery.
  • Presentation Tips
    Presentation Trainers Olivia Mitchell and Tony Burns give advice on planning the content of your presentation, creating effective PowerPoint slides, giving an effective presentation, overcoming the fear of public speaking, and managing the audience.
  • Slidedeck Planning Sheet
    Stephanie Evergreen, founder of EvergreenData, has created a tool for planning out your slidedeck before you even open up PowerPoint or Prezi.

It's helpful to have an "elevator speech" prepared about your work for presentations, interviews, and casual conversation at conferences and with family and friends. The following all contain good (and different) advice on creating an elevator pitch. All these resources are from marketing companies, so you will need to adapt the information to your needs.

Keep in mind that your poster should quickly and efficiently communicate your research to viewers. The key to crafting a good poster is to focus as narrowly as possible on the central ideas you need to convey. You won't have room to explain relationships among ideas in any detail, so pick out what's central to your topic and concentrate on that narrow focus. Present the data and findings uncovered in your project, as well as the broader impact of your research. See poster examples from the 2018 DR K–12 PI meeting.

Suggested content for a research poster:

  • Project title.
  • Principal investigator's name and contact information.
  • Brief summary of the project, including:
    • What is the context of the work?
    • What claims, questions, or hypotheses are examined in the work?
    • What are your research design, data collection and analysis methods, and evaluation plan?
    • What are your evidence-based results? What are your products?
    • What are the implications of your findings?
    • How is the project making an impact?

Formatting and Layout Tips

  • Think about aspect ratio. This scientific poster tutorial gives advice on how to set up your PowerPoint document so that your poster size is correct when you go to print.
  • Provide a title and your name in large text.
  • Remember that viewers will typically expect information to flow from left to right and from top to bottom. If you want to use a different flow, be sure to give explicit signals on your poster.
  • Use headings and subheadings to label your information. Keep these short and to the point since they function as an index.
  • Use the same size margins on both graphics and text.
  • Don't use glossy paper because reflections will make your content more difficult to read.
  • Posters should be readable from a distance of 5 feet. Generally, the smallest readable type font at this distance is 20–25 pts. While a number of fonts can be used, the following are readable from a distance of 2' to 4': Arial and Bookman 20 pt. and Times New Roman 24 pt. 
  • Rutgers’ Career Development page offers more poster session tips.
  • The University of Washington offers directions and tips for creating professional posters in PowerPoint.
Short Description: 
A compilation of resources on potential conferences, presentation tips, and poster advice.