Guidelines For Science Conference Presentations

Presentations usually are in one of two forms at a scientific conference: Oral or Poster. Your conference organizer(s) will decide in what format your team will present your research.

Oral Presentations

Five minutes will be allowed for the normal oral presentation and three minutes for open discussion and a question and answer period. Your presentation should include visuals to help your audience follow your presentation. The visuals can be overhead slides, or a computer presentation using software such as Microsoft PowerPoint. When preparing your presentation, try to use a maximum of three slides or transparencies for a five-minute talk. Slides should be uncluttered and easy to read; only essential information should be presented on the slides. A good rule of thumb: if you cannot read your slide without magnification, the lettering is too small to be read by your audience. Clearly label and explain all graphs or images presented. Practice a few times so the presentation fits comfortably into the five-minute slot. Have members of your science team help you during the practice to get you used to answering questions about your work.


The poster format affords the author(s) far more time and flexibility in presenting information. Posters are ideal for those using charts, graphs or detailed visual aids. The poster area serves as the social center of the meeting. Also, to avoid too many oral sessions running simultaneously, the number of oral presentation time slots is limited.

  • Your presentation should fit within an approximate 4' wide x 3' tall area.
  • You may use individual sheets to construct the poster or one large sheet.
  • When planning your poster, remember to use bold graphs, photographs, figures, and tables.
  • Include a title and the names of authors in large type. Text should be large enough to be legible from a distance of 3 to 4 feet (about 20 point font or 0.3 inches tall).
  • Keep the poster simple and easy to read.
  • Sections in the poster should include: Abstract, Materials and Methods, Results, and Discussion/Conclusio

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