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Free vs Premium: Choosing the Right AI Presentation Maker for Your Needs

In today’s fast-paced digital world, presentations have become an integral part of professional communication. Whether you’re pitching a new idea to your team or delivering a keynote speech at a conference, having a visually appealing and engaging presentation is crucial. With the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI), presentation making has been revolutionized, making it easier than ever to create stunning slideshows. If you’re in search of an AI presentation maker, you’ve probably come across the options of free and premium tools. But how do you choose between them? In this article, we’ll explore the benefits and limitations of both free and premium AI presentation makers to help you make an informed decision.

The Advantages of Free AI Presentation Makers

Free AI presentation makers offer several advantages that make them attractive to many users. One of the most significant benefits is cost-saving. As the name suggests, these tools are available at no cost, making them ideal for individuals or organizations with budget constraints. Moreover, free AI presentation makers often come with basic features that can meet the needs of casual users who don’t require advanced functionalities.

Another advantage of free AI presentation makers is ease of use. These tools are designed with simplicity in mind, allowing even those with limited technical skills to create professional-looking presentations effortlessly. Templates and pre-designed layouts are usually available for quick customization, saving time and effort.

Furthermore, free AI presentation makers often provide cloud storage options where users can save their work online. This feature ensures easy access from any device with an internet connection and eliminates worries about losing data due to hardware failures or other mishaps.

The Limitations of Free AI Presentation Makers

While there are many benefits to using free AI presentation makers, it’s important to consider their limitations as well. One common drawback is limited functionality compared to premium options. Free tools may lack advanced features like custom animations, advanced image editing, or access to premium templates. This can restrict creative options and result in less visually appealing presentations.

Another limitation of free AI presentation makers is branding. Free tools often include watermarks or logos on the final presentations, which can be distracting and unprofessional. Some free versions also limit the export options, making it difficult to share or present your slideshows outside of the tool’s platform.

Additionally, free AI presentation makers may have restrictions on storage space and file size. If you’re working with large files or need to store a considerable number of presentations, you may quickly hit these limitations. This could require constant deletion or compromise on the quality of your work.

The Benefits of Premium AI Presentation Makers

Premium AI presentation makers offer a range of advantages that cater to users who require more advanced features and professional results. One significant benefit is increased functionality. Premium tools provide access to a wide array of design options, including customizable animations, transitions, and special effects. These features allow users to create dynamic and engaging presentations that captivate their audience.

Another advantage of premium AI presentation makers is the absence of watermarks or branding on final presentations. This gives your slideshows a polished and professional look without any distractions. Premium tools also offer more flexibility in terms of exporting options, allowing you to save your work in various formats for easy sharing or presenting on different platforms.

Furthermore, premium AI presentation makers often provide additional support and customer service. Whether it’s through live chat assistance or comprehensive tutorials, these tools ensure that users can navigate any challenges they may encounter during the creation process effectively.

Considerations for Choosing the Right Option

When deciding between free and premium AI presentation makers, it’s crucial to consider your specific needs and requirements. If you’re looking for a simple tool for basic presentations without advanced functionalities or customization options, a free option may be sufficient. However, if you need a more professional and sophisticated tool with advanced features and design flexibility, a premium option would be worth the investment.

Additionally, consider your long-term goals and growth potential. If presentations play a significant role in your work or business, investing in a premium AI presentation maker can provide you with the tools necessary to create visually stunning slideshows that leave a lasting impact on your audience.

In conclusion, both free and premium AI presentation makers have their advantages and limitations. Understanding these differences and considering your specific needs will help you make an informed decision that aligns with your goals. Whether you choose a free or premium option, embracing AI technology for presentation making will undoubtedly enhance your communication skills and elevate your presentations to the next level.

This text was generated using a large language model, and select text has been reviewed and moderated for purposes such as readability.


what is conference presenting

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Presenting at conferences

A guide to making the most of opportunities to present at conferences

Why present at conferences?

As a graduate researcher, you are encouraged, often required, to present your research at conferences for several reasons:

  • Conferences are an ideal forum for communicating your research to experts in your field. The research you present can be a completed study, a work-in-progress or a part of your overall project (e.g. a literature review).
  • Attending conferences allows you to stay up to date with developments in your field and to be in contact with important people
  • Conferences inspire your current research. Staying connected and establishing a sense of community not only helps you with your research ideas, but also sustains motivation for your research throughout your candidature.
  • You can polish your presentation skills by watching effective presenters and, indeed, learn from the mistakes of less effective presenters.

Participating in conferences

Participating in conference presentations usually involves the following steps:

  • Call for papers: Typically, the first step is to be aware of calls for papers in your field. You can learn about these through online forums, discipline-specific newsletters, faculty emails or your supervisor.
  • Abstract submission: You then need to submit an abstract to a review committee. The length and precise nature of the abstract will be detailed in the call for papers.
  • Acceptance: If your abstract is successful, you may be requested to submit the full paper by an indicated date. If it isn’t successful, don’t be disheartened. The feedback that you receive from the reviewers is usually extremely valuable. It can help you learn about academic expectations, amend your original paper and increase the likelihood of it being accepted in other conferences or for publication.

Oral presentations give you the opportunity to communicate your research to a wide audience for a specified time.

Poster presentations allow you to engage in one-on-one interaction with your listeners and can, therefore, provide more customised feedback on your research.

In addition to presenting a paper, you can use networking opportunities at conferences. Here are some suggestions for effective networking:

  • After a talk, ask a question relevant to the presenter’s research. This not only demonstrates that you are informed and interested in the presenter’s work, but also increases your chances of being noticed, facilitating your opportunities to chat later.
  • Don’t simply spend time with people from your own institution; you can do that outside the conference context. Use the time at the conference to meet researchers you don’t often have access to.
  • Lunch and dinner functions are great occasions for establishing links with industry for the commercial applications of your research.

Preparing for conferences

  • Ask yourself: what does the audience already know and what do they need to know? For purposes of length and detail, remember that if people are interested in your research, they will take the opportunity to read your research paper.
  • Formulate a clear structure where, a) your aim is stated in the introduction; b) your points are explicitly made, linked and supported; and c) your conclusion has a clear ‘take-home’ message.
  • Practice the talk and time yourself. Keep the talk within the time limit and be flexible about omitting some slides if necessary.
  • If possible, visit the room you will present in beforehand. Attend a session held in the same room to identify any potential technical difficulties. If the conference is online, familiarise yourself with the platform on which you will present.
  • A general rule of thumb for the number of presentation slides is one slide per two minutes. Use visuals where applicable and minimise the amount of text on your slides.

Involving your audience

Avoid reading notes or talking to the data on the screen. Look at the audience before you begin and throughout your talk. Practise presenting one thought to one pair of eyes, breathing, moving then to the next pair of eyes for the following point. If your presentation is online, try to look directly at your webcam as much as possible.

Use a posture which focuses attention on your upper body and face: balance your weight evenly on both feet and keep your hands together about waist-high. This is also an easy position to gesture from. Direct your voice to the audience and articulate your words and sentences.

Attract your audience’s attention by:

  • giving them a problem to think about, e.g. ‘ Have you ever wished that the ultrasound images of your unborn child were considerably clearer? ’
  • stating a remarkable fact, e.g. ‘ Did you know that prior to the September 11 attacks, fire had never caused any steel-framed buildings to collapse? ’
  • sharing a story or personal anecdote, e.g. ‘ When I think about creativity, I’m reminded of the man who invented the microwave oven. He spent years experimenting with radar transmitters when he noticed that, while doing so, the chocolate in his pocket consistently melted. ’

Remember: your hook must be closely related to your presentation topic.

This gives you a chance not only to set up for your talk but also to chat to audience members about their backgrounds, interests and expectations.

Towards the end of a full day of presentations, and in the middle of a talk, audience concentration levels can wane. Re-engage the audience by assigning activities, using humour or giving a stimulating example of your research application.

Presenting your research

During your presentation, make sure you:

State your aim/purpose

Talk about the goals of your research or the purpose of the presentation before discussing techniques. You must first convince your audience of the importance of your work before requiring them to tackle the more technical details.

Contextualise your research

Position your study within current literature and methods. This allows you to create a context for your own work.

Present methods and findings clearly and attractively

Focus on your main approach, the reasons for choosing it, the key results of your research and their implications. If your audience are interested in the details of your research, they will ask questions, arrange to chat with you after the talk, or read your paper.

End your talk with a powerful ‘take-home’ message

Emphasise the major points raised in your presentation and highlight the significance of your research.

Deal with questions effectively

Before the presentation, anticipate likely questions about your research and prepare your answers. During question time, maintain eye contact with the person asking the question. Paraphrase their question to ensure that you have understood it correctly and other members of the audience have heard it.

If you do not have a direct answer, you can acknowledge the point being made and suggest ways of carrying out further research. You can also ask for their own recommendations and exchange contact details for follow-up.

Conference presentations provide great opportunities for you to communicate your research to a wide and interested audience, get feedback on your work, learn from other presenters and broaden your professional network. Preparation and practice are key to getting the most out of these occasions.

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Create a Conference Presentation

Common types of conference presentations.

  • Full paper  - The length of a full paper is variable, usually between 20 and 40 min, and rarely exceeds one hour. A full paper may be followed by question time.
  • Short paper  - This type of conference presentation can be as short as 10 min, and very often it is one in a series of short papers in a 1- or 2-hour session on a particular conference sub-topic or theme, each followed by 10 minutes question time. Timing is crucial as it is common for short paper sessions to be carefully managed by timekeepers who will ‘terminate’ your paper after the allocated time.
  • Workshop  - The emphasis of most workshops is on their practical nature. Their purpose is for participants to experience a strategy, a technique or a practical demonstration, and to have opportunities to question you about the value or workability of what you are presenting.
  • Poster  - You prepare a poster of your work (one or more A1 displays, including diagrams, text, references or visuals). This is displayed in an area of the conference venue. Your poster may be staffed at particular times when you are required to be available to provide further information or answer questions about your poster.
  • Discussion paper -  It is assumed that participants have read the paper. A summary is presented at the beginning of the paper (usually, but not always by the paper presenter), and the session consists mainly of a discussion or defence of the issues, questions and ideas raised in the paper.
  • Panel presentation/discussion  - You are one of several people on a panel discussing a theme/topic related to the conference. Your role is to be an expert in a particular issue, topic, technology, strategy or you represent an institution, department or company. Normally you receive advanced notice of this, but sometimes you can be asked to be a panel member at the conference.
  • Roundtable discussion  - This is a short paper presentation followed by the presenter facilitating/workshopping discussion with participants in groups.

Preparing your conference presentation

There are significant differences between a written paper, essay or report and a conference presentation. The introduction of a conference presentation should be considerably longer than that of a written text. Repetition is vital in a conference presentation. An audience needs to hear information several times and in slightly different forms to understand it, whereas in a written text the reader can refer back if necessary. Informal rather than formal language should be used in an oral conference presentation.

Think of a ‘catchy’ title as most conferences run parallel sessions and your presentation may compete with numerous presentations offered at the same time.

You will need to submit an abstract to the conference committee for your presentation to be accepted. If you have already written your paper, this task should be fairly easy as the abstract is a summary of the paper which is usually around 200–400 words . Ensure the issues, questions, thesis as well as the conclusion findings are clearly stated in the abstract.

In case the paper has not been written yet, prepare the abstract in such a way that you do not commit yourself to details that will not be addressed in the final paper.

Ensure that you follow guidelines set by the conference organizers regarding length, layout, references, etc. Write the paper as you would an essay, a report, or, more and more commonly, a journal article. The latter is particularly important if the conference proceedings are to be published (refereed or non-refereed). Check previous conference proceedings or journals in your field to ensure consistency with style, referencing, etc.

Presenting your conference presentation

When presenting your conference presentation you need to know your answers to the following questions:

  • Is the purpose clearly stated: are you reporting, comparing, convincing, arguing, questioning…?
  • Is the thesis/topic clearly stated: “In this paper, I want to report the findings of recent research which shows that under certain conditions, dolphins can be taught how to read simple text”?
  • Are your main arguments/ideas supported with evidence?
  • Are all the materials relevant to the topic?
  • Have you demonstrated your knowledge of the subject?
  • Is the level of technicality suited to the audience?
  • How do you reply to audience’s questions: long questions, ‘mini papers’ disguised as questions…?

Organise your presentation

Most presentations are organised according to a predictable pattern. They have three main stages: introduction, body and conclusion (i.e. tell them what you are going to say; then say it; then tell them what you have said).

When a presentation does not have these clear sections, it can be very difficult for listeners to follow what is being said.


This is the most crucial part of any presentation. You need to capture the audience’s interest in your topic and establish rapport with them. Your introduction should let the audience know what they are going to hear in the presentation. They need to know what to expect in order to get interested and to be able to follow you. Giving them an outline of your presentation in your introduction enables them to do this.

You need to:

  • capture the audience’s attention with a question, quotation, anecdote, or interesting statistic, etc.
  • main theme or main argument
  • main points you will cover and the order in which you will cover them.

The body of your presentation must be clearly organised with the main points highlighted. One effective technique is to number your ideas. Any idea which is new to your audience needs to be presented simply with supportive evidence or examples which will make it more easily understood. Each important idea should be presented several times in different ways within the body of your presentation. Your audience needs several opportunities to absorb the full meaning and the significance of the most important ideas. It is also important to state the links between your ideas clearly.

The body is where you develop your main ideas/argument, using supporting ideas/evidence. Use techniques that make it easy for the listener to follow your talk:

  • number your ideas: “ There are three main factors... ”
  • arrange your ideas in logical order, such as chronological; cause and effect; problem–solution
  • use transitional devices to help the audience follow the direction of your talk: “ secondly…; another important point is...; on the other hand…; I would now like to move on and look at another aspect of the research.. .”
  • state the main idea
  • refer to experts, provide examples to illustrate the idea
  • provide statistics, facts, tell anecdotes (if time permits)
  • provide case studies, etc.
  • repeat important ideas using different words so the audience has several opportunities to absorb them
  • don’t make the information too dense – remember the audience is listening, not reading!

The conclusion sums up main points. The conclusion should reinforce the central ideas of the presentation and signal a forceful ending. A weak, inconclusive or apologetic closing detracts from a good presentation. You should show in your conclusion that you have covered all the points that you said you would in your introduction. You should also show that you are confident, and that you have communicated effectively.

It is important to have a strong conclusion so the audience is left with a good impression.

  • Summarise the main ideas of your presentation.
  • Don’t introduce any new ideas.
  • Work towards a strong ending – don’t finish abruptly or say ‘That’s all’. Perhaps leave the audience with something to think about.

Presentation Tips

Advance preparation.

The more you know about your audience, the more likely you will be able to give an effective presentation. Try to find out as much as you can about who will be there, what their background is, why they will be coming, and how much they will already know about the topic. Go to the room where you will make your presentation and get a feel of its size, acoustics, seating, etc. If you can, familiarise yourself with the equipment in the room.

Clear pronunciation

Your voice must be clear and distinct. If you know you have difficulty with pronunciation, speak a little more slowly than usual. Use intonation, stress, changes in pace (slow down at important points, speed up at details, anecdotes) and pause to keep the listeners’ attention, and focus attention on important points.

Body language

It has been estimated that 75% of meaning transferred is non-verbal.  Try to maintain eye contact with your audience as this helps keep your audience engaged. Focus on standing straight and directly facing your audience, using hand gestures to emphasise important information.

Visual aids 

A presentation can be enhanced by the effective use of overhead transparencies (slides), charts, pictures, posters or PowerPoint presentations (with limited graphic/sound gimmicks). They provide variety and can help reinforce points made. However, you are still the main communicator of your message. Be familiar with your visual aids, refer to them specifically and only display them when you are referring to them, otherwise they will only be a distraction.

  • Physical charts, graphs, pictures, etc.: ensure that the size is appropriate for a large room. If necessary, back up with handouts.
  • Video: ensure the segment shown is not too long in relation to the overall length of your presentation.
  • Limit the amount of material on each visual: your listeners should be able to read and understand a visual in five seconds or less.
  • Be sure your visuals are large enough to be seen by everyone: the lettering should usually be minimum 20-22 pt. font.
  • Use diagrams, graphs and charts instead of words where possible.
  • Eliminate unnecessary detail from diagrams, graphs and charts.

Expression and style

Try to speak to your audience using notes rather than memorising or reading your presentation. In order to do this, you will have to practise your presentations as many times as you can. If possible, perform in front of an audience. Otherwise, practise in front of a mirror or record yourself on your phone. This will also give you an idea of how long your presentation will take.

Use a conversation style to make your audience feel personally involved. Each time you use the word ‘you’, the audience feels compelled to pay attention.  

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Adapted from Barthel, A. 2010, ‘Presenting a conference paper’, ELSSA Centre, University of Technology Sydney.   

UTS acknowledges the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, the Boorooberongal people of the Dharug Nation, the Bidiagal people and the Gamaygal people, upon whose ancestral lands our university stands. We would also like to pay respect to the Elders both past and present, acknowledging them as the traditional custodians of knowledge for these lands.

what is conference presenting

15 Best Tips for Presenting at a Conference

November 18 2021 Thursday, November 18, 2021 Tips and Tricks

Matthieu Chartier, PhD.

Founder @ Fourwaves

Presenting at a conference is an important part of a researcher’s life: it allows you to share all the work you’ve been doing for months or years.

At the same time, it also exposes some intimate aspects of yourself to the outside world, like your thought process, your level of knowledge on a topic, or your ability to structure ideas.

I personally found myself frightened about presenting on multiple occasions. I remember my first seminar at the beginning of my master's degree in biochemistry. Coming from a bachelor in ecology, I felt like an imposter in the new department and was scared others would judge my level of knowledge or the quality of my presentation. Of course, these were only negative projections I was making in my mind, but they reflect the stressful vibe one can feel when preparing to give a talk.

On the positive side, a successful presentation leads to a better understanding of your work by the audience. This generates insightful discussions that can provide ideas about what the next steps of your research should be or clues to solve roadblocks.

It also leaves a good impression on the work done at your lab which can attract new collaborators. Also, getting your work noticed, especially at large conferences, can lead to your publications being more cited. If you’re a student, you can be rewarded with a presentation prize that will boost your curriculum when applying for scholarships.

Above all, learning to communicate, especially to the general public, is a valued skill.

So how can you nail your next presentation? There are no magic pills, but in this article, we’ll share some important tips to help you deliver the best presentation at your next event.

1- Do not start by working on your slides

It is very easy to get lost in your slides if you do not plan first. That is why you need to outline your key ideas and the order in which you want to present them BEFORE jumping into building slides in PowerPoint (or another platform).

You can start with bullet points, a flowchart, or something similar. The crucial part here is to make sure you are laying out the information and not just throwing it on the slides as they come to your mind. It is easy to get lost if you just keep adding slide after slide without any concern for length and/or connections between the information.

You can use sticky notes, paper planners, online flowchart generators, or other tools to help you in the layout phase.

Then, equally important to the key ideas is how you tie all of that content together. You should plan a logical transition and a progression between each idea. This will help you define a common thread and establish the flow of your presentation. Ultimately, it will help the audience capture the message you’re sharing.

In summary, knowing what you want to talk about is key. So before working on your slide deck and your handouts, develop this layout that highlights and connects the information you want to share.

2- Have a duration in mind

You’ll have a limited amount of time to get your message across, so you have to plan your presentation around that time frame. If you have 15 minutes to present your work, plan a presentation that lasts slightly less than that time limit.

Another tip for presentations is to use a timer while presenting to ensure you don’t go overtime.

A lot of people do not plan their time wisely and end up skipping slides in their presentation or going overtime. And guess what? Your audience knows when you skip content because you ran out of time. It comes off as unprofessional and may affect the way people see your work. So take your time preparing your presentation around your time constraints.

If your initial mockup is longer than what it should be, start by analyzing what information could be deleted or ways to get the information across using fewer words. 

It’s often just a matter of focusing on the details that matter the most. Don’t explain all the details of the methodology or the results if it doesn’t add to the story. Keep that for smaller group discussions or during the Q&A period. 

Presenter on stage at a conference

3- Use visuals to your advantage

Visuals are a must in any presentation. Whether it is an image, a chart, a graphic, or a video, visuals help with interpretation and can be an effective way to get your message across or grab the audience's attention.

Just because you’re presenting at an academic conference, it doesn’t mean you can’t use images, videos, or even gifs to help get the message across.

Most people deal better with visuals than words , especially when the information is heavy with data and numbers. But even with visuals, remember to keep it simple. The whole purpose of using visual aids is to help your audience understand the message and not to confuse them with too much information. 

If you’re presenting figures or graphs, remember to use the pointer to highlight the key points while you explain your slide. This is something that is easy to forget when the stress level is high, but it can be a good way to stay grounded and focused on the presentation.

4- Know your audience

In any academic conference, knowing your audience puts you one step closer to delivering an effective presentation. Do your research when starting to prepare your presentation.

Skimming the proceedings of past editions of a conference can reveal past participant lists and their profile. Different conferences have different proportions of undergraduate and graduate students, postdocs, or principal investigators. Knowing the proportions of each category can indicate the level of knowledge on certain topics and if you need to spend time explaining certain areas so they understand the rest of the presentation or not.

If you find the abstracts, the Powerpoints, or the recordings of talks from previous editions, it can also help you adjust the depth in which you can go when explaining certain concepts.

Do not fall under the trap of assuming your audience knows nothing about your research subject. If they are at your research conference, it is most likely that they possess knowledge of (and interest in) what you are talking about. So, skip the basics that everyone knows if you feel you can.

Use jargon that is easily understood by the community at large and make sure you define less common abbreviations.

Knowing your audience is not always an easy task. If you’re not sure if your audience is familiar with a specific topic, don't be afraid to ask them! It will make everyone feel more involved and you will get their attention for the rest of the presentation. The bottom line, adapt your message to the audience.

5- Practice, practice, and practice again

No one should know your presentation better than you. When preparing for a particular conference, rehearse your talking points out loud and make sure you feel 100% comfortable with the information laid out on your slides. 

In addition, make sure the key ideas and the logical transition between them are crystal clear. One of the worst things that can happen to presenters is getting lost in their own presentation. 

You should practice your speech out loud to become familiar with the words as this will help your tone and confidence. When you sound confident, people are keener to listen to what you are saying.

One additional common but useful tip is to record yourself while practicing. It will help you know where you're lacking and what needs to be improved. 

 For example, some people tend to talk really fast or jump on sentences while others tend to ignore full stops. No matter what the issues are, recording yourself is a great tactic to find and address them.

Microphone close up

6- Present it to a friend or colleague

Outside of practicing it out loud on your own, practice it in front of your colleagues. It will give you an experience that will resemble the real presentation the most.

While you present, notice their facial expressions. They can reveal parts of your presentation that are unclear. Tell them not to interrupt you during the presentation, but tell them to note down their suggestions or questions for the end. Make sure to use a timer to measure how you’re doing on time.

Some people like to present to someone completely detached from the topic. The idea is that if people who are not completely familiar with the subject can follow your presentation, people in the field should be able to easily follow it as well. 

No matter which option you choose, this exercise will help if you have difficulties speaking in public. Do not be afraid of doing these multiple times before your presentation and always ask for honest feedback. The more you practice, the more confident and more fluent you will be.

During my Ph.D., we often presented to our lab members and went through a Q&A section. Not only was it a good opportunity to practice the presenting skills, but it was also a moment to discuss specific aspects and prepare for potential questions. I remember in some instances, the feedback led to reshuffling the ideas completely in a way that made more sense.

7- Appearances matter

Even though people are coming to your presentation because they are interested in your research, appearances matter. The way you speak, how you interact with your audience, and even what you wear, make an impact. Make sure you wear comfortable clothes. 

 If you’re presenting at an online event, make sure the lighting comes from in front of you and not from behind or it will make your face appear darker. Not seeing a presenter clearly can distract the audience and decrease attention.

Also make sure there isn’t anything distracting in the background, like television or someone walking. The best background is usually solid-colored walls.

8- Sleep and eat well before the event

Get a good night of sleep the night before the event. You will feel well-rested and ready to tackle the presentation. It can be tempting to practice your slides and go over your presentation late at night, but it is sometimes better to get a good night's sleep.

In addition, make sure to eat well. You don’t want to feel dizzy or be occupied thinking about food when you should be thinking about the presentation.

Lastly, have a bottle of water close to you while you’re presenting. That will allow you to take pauses when needed and give your audience time to absorb the information after you jump into the next slide or argument.

9- Have a backup

If you have your presentation stored on a hard drive, make sure to have an extra copy on the cloud and vice-versa. Hard drives can break and technical difficulties can occur with cloud storage, so always have a backup just in case. 

Depending on the guidelines of the event, you can also send a copy of your presentation to the organizer and/or colleague. Send yourself a copy of the presentation by email as well.

A lot of people also have a paper copy of their presentation. That’s the last case alternative but also nice to have. If you are in a poster presentation, this may be harder to achieve.

If you have videos in your presentation, check out if the platform and/or venue can display that, especially the audio (if it’s important). Not all software or places have the necessary (or compatible) technology to display your presentation as they should.

Person holding USB keys

10- Use body language

Body language has an essential role in presentations, especially online ones. Make sure you use body language the right way, otherwise it can be distracting for your audience. That includes fidgeting, repeatedly fixing your hair or clothes, among other things.

In academic conferences, the presentations are usually heavy on the information and data side, so it is important that presenters take advantage of tone of voice, gestures, and other body language resources to get their point across.

It is best to keep eye contact with people in the audience. This way, they will feel you are talking TO them and not AT them. But make sure to alternate and not stare at one single person throughout the whole presentation. 

Be aware of your posture and if you have any notes, make sure to either hold them or have them at eyesight. It is common to have notecards during a conference talk, but it is important to know your presentation and not depend on the notes.

11- Encourage your audience to interact with you

A big part of your presentation is for you to talk about your research. People are there to listen to you and absorb information, but they are also there to make the most out of the experience, and that includes engaging and asking questions.

Prepare yourself to answer questions from the audience. It is impossible to cover everything in a short presentation, so try to cover as much as possible and if there are questions you think will arise from the audience, prepare to answer them.

Depending on the type of presentation and what’s expected, you can keep questions for the end or allow questions during the presentation.

If there is a question that you do not have the answer to, it’s ok to say it. It’s better to offer to look more into it and get back to them rather than trying to improvise an answer. Provide your contact information in the final slide or at the end of your presentation. Some participants can reach out to you if they have any questions, suggestions, or opportunities that could be beneficial to you.

If you are giving an online presentation, invite participants to ask a question through the conference platform or website. For example, Fourwaves has a built-in Q&A section on each presentation page where presenters and participants can interact.

Conference participants taking notes

12- Structure your presentation and let your audience know

Let your audience know what you will be covering in your presentation. Have a clear outline of the topics and make sure to have this journey clear so the audience understands where you are taking them.

You can start the presentation by highlighting the key messages, but don’t forget to have a summary at the end (your conclusion), where you reiterate the main points of your presentation.

13- Pay attention to design

Adhere to the following basic design principles when building your slides. Avoid distracting colors and mixing more than 2 colors in each slide. If you use a light background, you should use a dark font and vice-versa. Make sure the font size is also big enough and that you are not stuffing too much information into a slide.

A good rule of thumb for your slides is to have about 5 bullet points on each one and give enough time for people to read through them if they need to. Most of the information should be coming out of your mouth and not described in the slides. The slides are just a summary (the bullet points) of what you will cover.

If you are adding visuals, make sure they are big enough so people can see them and they are not covering any information.

14- Take other presentations as an example

You have probably been part of dozens and dozens of presentations in a lifetime. Is there something you liked a lot in those or something you hated? If yes, write it down. If it is positive, strive to replicate that in your presentation. If it is negative, discard it.

If you are taking part in an annual event, you may be able to access presentations from the years before and draw conclusions from there. You can also look for similar poster presentations or templates and get inspiration from those.

Keep in mind that every person has a presentation style. Learn the basic guidelines and find what works best for you.

15- Rely on storytelling

Storytelling is relying on stories (narrative) to talk about something (e.g. personal anecdotes, metaphors, comparisons, etc.). People rely on stories for mnemonic purposes and most of the time, it is easier to remember a story or an analogy than it is to remember a specific situation.

No matter what the topic is, analogies make it easier for people to understand facts. Whenever possible, try to use a metaphor or a comparison

Bonus tip - Remember to stop and breathe during your presentation

It’s normal to feel stressed even if you’re super well prepared and that you know your topic inside out.

Make sure to take the time to pause in between slides and to take a good slow deep breath. It will help you stay focused throughout the presentation.

Practice this during your rehearsals. Not talking for 3-4 seconds can seem long for you, but your audience will appreciate it and it will help you feel calmer.

At the core, preparing for a conference presentation is no different than preparing for any type of public speaking assignment. You need to understand the topic very well, research and practice what you are going to say, and know your audience, among other things.  

Most of all, remember: no one is born with great presentation skills, so give yourself room to improve.

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Purdue Online Writing Lab Purdue OWL® College of Liberal Arts

Conference Presentations

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This resource provides a detailed overview of the common types of conference papers and sessions graduate students can expect, followed by pointers on presenting conference papers for an audience. 

Types of conference papers and sessions

Panel presentations are the most common form of presentation you will encounter in your graduate career. You will be one of three to four participants in a panel or session (the terminology varies depending on the organizers) and be given fifteen to twenty minutes to present your paper. This is often followed by a ten-minute question-and-answer session either immediately after your presentation or after all of the speakers are finished. It is up to the panel organizer to decide upon this framework. In the course of the question-and-answer session, you may also address and query the other panelists if you have questions yourself. Note that you can often propose a conference presentation by yourself and be sorted onto a panel by conference organizers, or you can propose a panel with a group of colleagues. Self-proposed panels typically have more closely related topics than conference-organized panels.

Roundtables feature an average of five to six speakers, each of whom gets the floor for approximately five to ten minutes to speak on their respective topics and/or subtopics. At times, papers from the speakers might be circulated in advance among the roundtable members or even prospective attendees.

Workshops feature one or a few organizers, who usually give a brief presentation but spend the majority of the time for the session facilitating an activity that attendees will do. Some common topics for these sessions typically include learning a technology or generating some content, such as teaching materials.

Lightning talks (or Ignite talks, or Pecha Kucha talks) are very short presentations where presenters' slide decks automatically advance after a few seconds; most individual talks are no longer than 5 minutes, and a lightning talk session typically invites 10 or more presenters to participate over the course of an hour or two rather than limiting the presenters like a panel presentation. A lightning talk session will sometimes be held as a sort of competition where attendees can vote for the best talk. 

SIGs (Special Interest Groups) are groups of scholars focused on a particular smaller topic within the purview of the larger conference. The structure of these sessions varies by conference and even by group, but in general they tend to be structured either more like a panel presentation, with presenters and leaders, or more like a roundtable, with several speakers and a particular meeting agenda. These styles resemble, respectively, a miniconference focusing on a particular topic and a committee meeting. 

Papers with respondents are structured around a speaker who gives an approximately thirty-minute paper and a respondent who contributes their own thoughts, objections, and further questions in the following fifteen minutes. Finally, the speaker gets that same amount of time to formulate their reply to the respondent.

Poster presentations ask participants to visually display their ideas on a research poster, which is typically displayed with other research posters in a specific area at a conference. The poster needs to be understandable on its own (without the author) as viewers sometimes look through the posters outside the bounds of the poster session, which is a scheduled period of time where poster authors stand with their posters and engage viewers in conversation about the work. Research posters have long tended to follow common templates for design, but in recent years some scholars have begun challenging these templates for improved usability (for example, the Better Poster campaign as described here  or the APA template based on the original, here.

You can read more about research posters on our resource here .

Presenting the conference paper

Aim to take less time than you are given! If your presentation slot is 15 minutes, aim for 13 or 14 when you practice. A little leeway and a slightly shorter presentation is a courtesy to your audience and to your fellow presenters, and will not at all imply that you are unprepared or unprofessional — in fact, being able to keep well within your allotted time is the mark of a good presenter.

Make sure you speak slowly and clearly, using accessibility aids if available such as a microphone or closed captioning on a slide deck. Many presenters have begun bringing accessibility copies of their talks, which are printed transcripts of the talk using a larger font for audience members who need them. It is also becoming increasingly common for presenters at conferences to share their slides and copies of their talk via a shortened link or QR code found on the bottom of the slides so that audiences may access them later or even while they are in your session.

The conventions for presentation differ based on field. Some fields tend toward reading papers aloud with very little audiovisual accompaniment; others use slide decks; others speak extemporaneously. You can find out more about typical practices in your field by attending conferences yourself and by asking mentors. Generally, you will be able to improve the accessibility of your presentation if you have a visual accompaniment and prepared remarks.

Even in fields where presenters tend to read papers verbatim, it is rarely a good idea to bring a paper from a class or another research paper you have written without editing it for an oral presentation. Seminar papers tend to be too long to read in 15 minutes, and often lead to graduate students surpassing their time limits. Moreover, research papers are meant to be read — they lack the kinds of repetition and simple sentence structure that are more beneficial to listeners. Finally, conference presentations do not serve the same purposes as most class papers — typically in a class, you're expected to show that you have understood the material, but at a conference, listeners are more interested in hearing what contributions you have that might help them in their own research. It's typical to move the bulk of your literature review to an appendix or another document so that you can discuss other scholarship in the area if it comes up in the Q&A, but during your presentation you're left free to focus on your own methods and findings. (Many presenters will even say: "I'm skipping a lot of [X material] for the sake of time, but I'm happy to discuss it later with anyone who's interested.")

Since you will present your paper orally, you may repeat important points and say more about the structure of the essay than a written submission to a journal (or a paper for your undergraduate or graduate courses) would require. This often means signposting orally when you are moving to a new section of the paper or when you are shifting to a new idea. The thesis of your paper should come early in your presentation to give listeners a clear understanding of what is to follow. At this point, you may also overview or forecast your paper and tell listeners how you will move from one argument to the next. It is generally advised to quickly summarize your important points in a bulleted list at the end of your presentation to remind everyone of the two or three most essential arguments or findings.

If you use a slide presentation, you may want to follow the guidelines presented in the OWL resource, Designing an Effective PowerPoint Presentation .

Presentation Geeks

11 Tips To Make Your Conference Presentation Outstanding

Table of contents.

The world of conferences are great opportunities for like-minded individuals to come together and share their common denominator interest with one another.

Conferences provide attendees with an opportunity to learn and share with others who share similar experiences or interests all under one roof. Conferences are usually large in nature bringing people from across the country, or even across the world, together.

If you find yourself presenting at an upcoming conference, the honest truth is the stakes are high. Oftentimes, conferences have a lot of people in attendance. When you have your moment to shine to share your presentation with a large crowd of audience members, you want it to go flawlessly.

Truthfully, so do we.

That’s why we’ve put together this in-depth blog post to help you navigate the world of conferences and how to master your conference presentation with 11 actionable tips.

Are You Presenting At An Upcoming Conference? We Should Talk

What are conference presentations.

First, let’s get an understanding of what a conference presentation is.

A conference presentation is an opportunity for people to communicate with a large audience of like-minded individuals typically congregating around a common interest or topic.

A conference can vary in length from a one, full day event, all the way up to a week-long program. Conferences are usually a great opportunity for these like-minded individuals to network and learn from one another on new topics, research or major events.

Now that we know what a conference is, there are several common types of conferences you might encounter during your professional career.

Let’s take a look at the common types of conferences below.

Common Types Of Conferences

Although these are some of the common types of conferences you’ll encounter, this isn’t a fully finalized list. There are more types of conferences than simply what’s mentioned below.

However, you’re more than likely to encounter one of the following whether you’re just entering the industry, a student who’s networking or even if you’re passionate on a certain topic and like to be involved in the community.

Academic Conferences

Academic scholars attending an academic conference presentation related to science

Academic conferences are opportunities for researchers to present their work with fellow peers and colleagues. They’re important because they provide an opportunity for academics from multiple institutions to connect at a single location and network.

Academic conferences can be divided further into professional conferences . Professional academic conferences are geared more towards professors and academics who have spent more time in their field of study such as social sciences or medicine.

On the other hand, undergraduate programs may still hold conferences for academia but these are more geared towards undergraduate students who might just be sharing their semester research presentation.

You might be thinking to yourself, “This just sounds like a research presentation .”

Although you’re not wrong, you’re only partly right.

Research presentations are only one part of the overall academic conference. An academic conference is a combination of multiple research presentations combined into one event. You might have multiple academics speaking at a conference sharing their research presentations, but one does not equal the other.

Annual General Meetings

Shareholders attending an annual general meeting presentation.

Shifting gears to the more business side of things, another form of conferences are annual general meetings.

Annual general meetings, or AGM for short, are typically mandatory, yearly gatherings of a company’s interested shareholders which might consist of investors and employees.

At an AGM, directors of a company share with the shareholders the annual report which covers key topics of interest to the shareholders. These key points might include the company’s financial performance, quarterly reports, upcoming yearly vision, plans for expansion, the company’s performance and strategy.

Shareholders who have voting rights often vote on current issues facing the company and which direction the company should pursue. Some of these decisions might include who is to be appointed onto the board of directors, what executive compensation will be, dividend payments and the selection of auditors.


Overhead image of a large crowd of people walking throughout a convention center floor.

Like most conferences, conventions are large meetings consisting of people with a share ideology or profession. You often hear of conventions in terms of entertainment or politics.

On the entertainment side of things, conventions are gatherings where people of the same interest come together to network and immerse themselves in the unifying experience of enjoying the same things as those around you. Some notable conventions you might’ve heard of are Comic Con, Fan Expo and the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Here, you’ll find people sharing a mutual enjoyment of entertainment indulgences.

Political conventions or Party Conferences are the other form of conventions you’ll often hear about.

These are often held by the respective political party where members of said political party come together to network and most importantly, vote on a party leader or delegate.

Press Conferences

press release round table with moderators and key spokespeople.

The smallest form of a conference you’ll encounter is a press conference.

A press conference is an organized event to officially distribute information from a specified spokesperson. Unlike other public relation tactics such as a press release which is still a tool to disseminate information to the public, a press conference is an alternate public relation tactic where media is selectively invited to attend the event to get the information.

Press conferences are often smaller in size due to the shrinking landscape of media outlets. Additionally, press conferences are usually high-stake events usually having highly notable individuals in attendance or presenting. To limit the risk and maximize the safety of these VIPs, press conferences are usually more exclusive.

This is why press conferences are often reserved for bigger news stories and why journalists who are new to the industry try very hard to get on the good side of these conference organizers. Due to the sheer exclusivity of the event, the opportunity to get a unique news story is greater.

Product Launches

Product launch gala in a dark room

The last conference we’ll go over is a product launch.

A product launch, much like a press conference, is another great public relations tactic used to build anticipation and gain the buy-in of the public. They are a coordinated effort to demonstrate new products soon to be released to the general public.

Famous product launches can be seen executed by the world’s top companies such as Apple, Tesla and Disney.

These companies often use product launches to garner attention for an upcoming line of products that will soon be available to the public. The main goal of product launches in recent years is to drive pre-order sales which help raise capital to bring the product development over the finish line without needing to expend any further owned-capital of the company.

Conference Presentation Tips

No matter the conference you find yourself attending and more than likely presenting at, conference presentation tips remain the same. You can apply the following 11 important points to any conference.

With some slight adjustments to each, you’ll soon be a master of conference talk, being able to command any large room of people and retain the audience’s attention with ease.

1 - Do Your Homework

Before you begin putting together your conference presentation slide deck, you need to first do your homework. With any good finalized product, it got that way thanks to the preparation which went into it ahead of time and your presentation is no exception.

What you might want to consider doing before you begin putting together your slide deck is answering the following questions and drafting an outline.

What key message do you want the audience to take away after the presentation?

What do you want them to feel?

How do you want them to act?

Can I achieve these results with the information I already have?

By asking yourself these questions and acting appropriately based on the answer, you’ll be setting yourself up for a good presentation.

2 - Understand Your Audience

Knowing your audience isn’t just about who they are, it’s about understanding what they’re interested in, how they retain information and what motivates them.

Understanding your audience is the first step of mastering presentation psychology and without it, you won’t have a strong foundation for your presentation. You could have the most visually appealing presentation but if it doesn’t resonate with the audience, it won’t matter.

So before you go ahead and start building a presentation based on what you think your audience is interested in, you should really come to a solidified conclusion and know what your audience is interested in.

3 - Know Your Timing

Presentations range in different lengths. You’ll encounter presentations as short as one minute to others that last over an hour. Start preparing your presentation by knowing what your time limit is.

You can typically find this information out by contacting an organizer of the conference.

4 - Use Visual Aids

Visual aids are tools to help you communicate visually.

Some presentation visual aids you might want to consider using are graphs, tables, pictures and videos. If you really want to be seen as an expert presenter, you should even be focusing on the colors you use for your slides.

Now, it might seem like you need a creative degree to master all this, but the reality is you don’t. Luckily, you can outsource your presentation design to a presentation design agency like Presentation Geeks who not only create top-tier presentation slide decks used by Fortune 500 companies, they also can provide presentation consulting services .

Don’t forget, you yourself are a visual communication tool as well. Be sure to dress appropriately for your upcoming conference presentations because you want to make a good impression. Let’s take a political convention as an example. If you’re running as a candidate to be the leader of a major political party, you want to make sure you peak the audience’s interest and gain their trust by dressing appropriately as superficial as that sounds.

5 - Keep It Simple

Don’t overcomplicate your presentation, especially the slide deck.

It’s crucial to keep your presentation, especially the visual aids portion as simple as possible because too much information will confuse the audience and they will likely forget what you’ve said.

Focus on the key details in your slides and use them as supplementary tools. Many presenters will think they need to have a grand conference presentation with fancy technology, transitional devices and other outlandish tactics. The reality is, you want your information to be easily understood by keeping it simple.

6 - Practice, Practice, Practice

The way to become a better presenter is through practice.

You want to ensure you command the room with your confidence. You won’t be doing that if you’re reading from a paper aloud.

You need to ensure you’re confident. Practice your conference presentation multiple times and consider recording yourself as you do. You’ll pick up on your body language and analyze how well you’re using your body language to communicate what you’re saying. Scan the audience and share your eye contact with everyone. Don’t forget to speak clearly and slowly

7 - Prepare For The Worst

Murphy’s Law states that what can go wrong, will go wrong. You should keep this theory in the back of your mind and expect the worst to happen.

Just because the worst can and probably will happen, doesn’t mean there isn’t a solution. That is why you need to prepare for the worst.

You should be able to present all your conference presentations if the venue changes at the last minute, if you don’t have the technology you were expecting to use, if you forgot your handouts like a conference paper. You should be prepared for the worst but have a solution.

8 - Know Your Space

Let’s say your fortunate, which you probably will be, and the venue doesn’t change last minute. That’s great! Use this to your advantage and get familiar with your space.

Ahead of your conference presentations, you should go and scope out the area you will be presenting to get an idea of how you can walk around, what technology will be present, what the lighting will be light, etc.

There are so many areas of concerns and unknowns that can be addressed by doing a little bit of field assignment homework ahead of time.

9 - Go Beyond The Slides - Engage Your Audience

An audience will more likely remember what you have to say and feel connected by being engaged.

You can engage your audience by targeting more senses of the human body. If you only target their auditory and visual senses, you’ll eventually lose them. Walk through the crowd if you can. Have the audience move their necks, stretch and move!

10 - Get The Audience To Participate By Encouraging Questions

Good presenting is one-way communication.

Excellent presenting is two-way communication.

Another way to go beyond the slides and your one-way presentation speech by giving an opportunity for the audience to ask further questions.

This is not only beneficial to the audience to help them get a better understanding of your topic, but it will also help you to answer questions.

It gets you to reflect on your presentation from an angle you might not have thought of before. Out of all the questions audience members will ask, there is usually one or two awe-inspiring questions that get even the presenter to take a moment to reflect.

Use these moments to better your presentation for the future.

11 - Evaluate & Refine

Speaking of making your presentation better for the future, remember to evaluate and refine your presentation and presentation skills.

A true master of any profession or skill knows they truly aren’t a master because learning never stops. You should take the same ideology and apply it to your own presentation skills.

Whether it’s self-reflection or a survey of the audience after your conference presentation, try and evaluate how well you presented and refine your future presentation based on the presentation feedback you received.

The summary of everything mentioned above if applied correctly will result in your being a master of conference presentations. The great thing about these techniques is they can be applied to any type of conference presentation.

Not only that, but if you understand the basic fundamentals of presenting, you can begin exploring other realms of presentations. To really take your presentation skills to the next level, enlisting the help of a presentation design agency such as Presentation Geeks will help you surpass the competition.

Author:  Content Team

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Example sentences conference presentations

And between her books, and while she was shaping up to them, she was prolific in conference presentations , anthology contributions and journal articles.
Such settings could present opportunities to make far greater contributions than the impact afforded by most conference presentations or journal articles.
He has given more than 300 national and international conference presentations and has published more than 125 peer-review journal articles.
However, it became mostly an outlet for shorter essays based on conference presentations .
He has also published several scholarly articles and given conference presentations on jazz violin history and improvisation.

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Conference Presentation: A comprehensive guide

In this guide learn how to choose a topic, develop content, deliver with confidence, and more.

Raja Bothra

Building presentations

team preparing conference presentation

Welcome to the world of conference presentations!

Whether you're an academic, a professional, or simply someone eager to share your knowledge, the art of delivering an effective conference presentation is a skill worth mastering.

In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the ins and outs of conference presentations, from understanding what they are to mastering the key elements that make them successful.

So, grab your "presentation slide" of inspiration and let's dive into the world of conference presentations.

What is a conference presentation?

A conference presentation is a means of conveying information, research findings, or ideas to an audience in a structured and engaging manner. It's a platform for individuals to showcase their expertise, share their insights, and foster discussions on topics ranging from academic research to professional insights. Whether you're presenting at an "academic conference" or a corporate gathering, the goal remains the same: to effectively communicate your message.

Types of Conference Presentations

Before we delve into the nitty-gritty details, let's explore the different types of conference presentations you might encounter:

Oral presentation

The quintessential "oral presentation" remains one of the most prominent formats across conferences, be it academic or professional. These presentations typically span a concise 15-20 minutes, providing a platform for presenters to delve into a wide array of topics:

  • Research findings : Share your latest research discoveries.
  • Completed works : Showcase your completed projects and their outcomes.
  • Innovative concepts : Introduce groundbreaking ideas that push the boundaries.
  • Theoretical Applications : Explore the theoretical underpinnings of your field.
  • Methodologies : Explain the methodologies you've employed in your work.

The structure of an oral presentation allows for a systematic exploration of these topics, followed by a brief Q&A session, providing valuable interactions with the audience.

Poster presentation

On the flip side, "poster presentations" offer a more relaxed and interactive avenue to convey your work. This format involves creating a visual "poster presentation" that succinctly highlights your key points. Here's why poster presentations are worth considering:

  • Concise and visually appealing : Posters condense your work into a visually engaging format.
  • Informal interaction : Presenters stand by their posters in a common area, ready to engage with curious attendees.
  • Networking opportunity : It's an excellent way to network with fellow researchers and gain valuable feedback on your work.

Poster presentations bridge the gap between the visual and the informative, making them an excellent choice for those looking to engage their audience in a more relaxed setting.

Beyond the basics

While oral and poster presentations are the cornerstone of many conferences, there are other presentation formats that cater to diverse objectives and preferences:

  • Panel discussions : Experts gather to discuss a specific topic in front of an audience, offering varied perspectives and insights.
  • Roundtables : In a more informal setting, a small group of individuals engage in in-depth discussions on a particular topic.
  • Workshops : Attendees immerse themselves in hands-on activities to acquire new skills or knowledge.
  • Keynote speeches : Prominent speakers take the stage to deliver inspiring talks on topics of paramount importance to the conference audience.
  • Lightning talks : These brief, high-impact presentations, typically lasting 5-10 minutes, cover a wide array of topics in a succinct manner.

Selecting the most appropriate presentation format depends on the nature of the conference and your personal preferences. If you're unsure about which format aligns best with your objectives, don't hesitate to reach out to the conference organizers for guidance. After all, the key to a successful conference presentation is choosing the format that allows you to shine and effectively convey your message.

How to structure an effective conference presentation

A well-structured presentation is like a well-composed symphony - it captures the audience's attention and leaves a lasting impression. Here's a step-by-step guide to help you create a harmonious presentation:

1. Begin with a clear introduction

The beginning of your presentation is your chance to make a memorable first impression. Start by introducing yourself and your topic. Use a "clear outline" to provide a roadmap for your presentation. For instance, you can say, "Today, I'll discuss the key elements of a successful conference presentation, including effective structure, engaging visuals, and impactful delivery."

2. Create an engaging body

The body of your presentation should contain the main points you want to convey. Here's where your "slide deck" comes into play. Each slide should emphasize a single point, keeping it concise and visually appealing. Remember the "good rule of thumb" - one slide per key idea.

3. Emphasize with visuals

Visual aids, such as graphs and images, can help "emphasize" your message and make complex information easily understood. However, don't overload your slides with visuals; use them strategically to "get the message across."

4. Maintain audience engagement

Your "presentation style" plays a vital role in keeping your audience engaged. Practice "body language" that conveys confidence and enthusiasm. Maintain "eye contact with your audience" to establish a connection. Utilize gestures to "emphasize" key points and establish a rapport with your audience.

5. Summarize key takeaways

As you approach the "end of your presentation," allocate some time to summarize the key takeaways. This reinforces the main points and ensures your audience leaves with a clear understanding of your message.

Do’s and don'ts of a conference presentation

Now that you know how to structure your presentation effectively, let's explore some do's and don'ts that can make or break your presentation.

  • Rehearse : "Rehearse your presentation" practise multiple times to ensure a smooth delivery.
  • Use visuals : Incorporate visuals, but don't let them "distract the audience."
  • Maintain eye contact : "Maintain eye contact with your audience" to establish a connection.
  • Engage the audience : "Give your audience" opportunities to participate, ask questions, or share their thoughts.
  • Time management : Stick to the allotted time. "Conference organizers" appreciate punctuality.


  • Overwhelm with text : Avoid adding slide after slide filled with font text. Remember, less is often more.
  • Lack of preparation : Don't "rehearse" just once. The more you practice, the more confident you'll feel.
  • Reading slides : Don't simply "read your paper" or slides. Your audience can do that themselves.
  • Ignoring questions : Always address "questions from the audience" respectfully and thoughtfully. Avoid being unprofessional.
  • Going off topic : Stay on track. "Unrelated tangents" can confuse your audience.

Summarizing Key Takeaways

In this comprehensive guide, we've covered the essentials of crafting an "effective conference presentation." From structuring your presentation to engaging your audience, you now have the tools to shine at your next conference.

  • Conference Presentations are a means to share information or research effectively.
  • Types include oral (concise talks) and poster (visual presentations).
  • Other formats like panels, roundtables, workshops, keynotes, and lightning talks cater to different objectives.
  • Structure your presentation with a clear intro, engaging body, visuals, audience engagement, and key takeaways.
  • Do's: Rehearse, use visuals wisely, maintain eye contact, engage the audience, and manage time.
  • Don'ts: Avoid overwhelming text, lack of preparation, reading slides, ignoring questions, and going off-topic.

Remember, a great presentation is not just about delivering information; it's about creating a memorable experience for your audience. Whether you're "presenting at a conference" for the first time or you're a seasoned pro, these tips for presenting will help you make a lasting impression.

1. How can I create the best presentation for my conference talk?

To create the best presentation for your conference talk, if you're not sure, start by using a PowerPoint template that suits the theme of the particular conference you're presenting at. Make sure your presentation flows well and includes bullet points to emphasize key information. Additionally, presenting conference paper effectively requires you to practice in front of a mirror and use gestures to emphasize important points.

‍ 2. What is the typical length of a conference presentation?

The length of your effective presentation may vary depending on the conference committee's guidelines, but most conferences allocate around 15-20 minutes for each presentation. It's important to remember to keep track of time as you present, as you may run out of time if you're not careful.

3. Do I need to submit an abstract before presenting a paper at a conference?

Yes, you typically need to submit an abstract related to your topic before being accepted to present at a conference. The conference committee reviews these abstracts to determine which presentations are most suitable and interesting to the audience members interested in your research.

4. How can I make my conference presentation memorable?

To make your memorable presentation, use slide decks effectively, and consider the presentation technology available on the conference platform. Emphasize key points and use gestures to engage your audience. Also, e.g., include relevant images and graphs in your slides to help the audience understand your research paper.

5. What should I do if I'm presenting at a conference where the audience is unfamiliar with my field?

If you're presenting at a conference where the audience is unfamiliar with your field, make sure to use simple language and avoid jargon. Provide enough context and background information related to your topic to help the audience understand. Additionally, be prepared to ask a question or two to engage the audience and familiarize them with your work during the Q&A session.

Create your conference presentation with prezent

Before we conclude, here's a valuable tip: Consider using presentation software like Prezent to streamline your conference presentation creation process. Prezent offers:

  • Time savings: Prezent can save you up to 70% of the time typically spent on crafting presentations, allowing you to focus on other critical conference preparations.
  • Brand consistency: Access to brand-approved designs from Fortune companies ensures that your conference presentation maintains a professional and consistent look.
  • Audience engagement: Prezent helps you understand your audience's preferences, enabling you to create presentations that resonate and engage effectively.
  • Cost efficiency: By standardizing presentations and streamlining communication, Prezent can cut communication costs by up to 60%, a valuable advantage for conference budgets.
  • Overnight service: Take advantage of Prezent's overnight presentation service for tight deadlines, ensuring you receive a polished presentation by the next business day.

In conclusion, a successful conference presentation is all about striking the right balance between structure, visuals, and engagement. Mastering these elements will not only boost your "presentation skills" but also ensure that your audience leaves with a deeper understanding of your work.

So, go ahead, "present your paper" with confidence, captivate your audience, and leave a lasting impression on the conference stage.

Sign up for our free trial or book a demo !  

Happy presenting!

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  • Conference Organising
  • Research Conferences
  • Research World

11 Tips for presenting at a conference

what is conference presenting

How to deliver an effective conference presentation (and beat those presenting nerves).

Presenting at a conference is a core part of scientific communication for any researcher or academic. Finding the right conference with the right audience and successfully communicating your latest findings is a great way to enhance your career prospects and, in turn, learn about the newest developments in your research field.

Before we jump in, an important note on fake conferences. There has been a growth in the number of predatory conferences in recent years, so before you register to attend and present your work at any conference, familiarise yourself with ways to tell a predatory conference from a legitimate one .    

Developing a conference presentation is no different to developing any other presentation – you need to be well prepared, consistent throughout and ensure you’re able to resonate with your audience.

One of the biggest challenges in giving a good presentation is managing your nerves. Even the most experienced and respected speakers and performers get a bundle of nerves before they start, so you’re in good company. The good news is that the techniques of an effective presenter can be practised. So how can this be accomplished? Here are 11 tips that will help you give an effective conference presentation.

1. Don’t touch that slide deck just yet

The first thing you need to know about creating an effective conference presentation is not to dive head first into your slides.

It’s hard to beat the feeling of getting an email letting you know that the proposal you worked tirelessly on for a conference has been accepted. Finding out that your work has been well received by a committee can mean a huge amount, especially when you’re driven by your passion for it, like the majority of researchers out there.

So it’s super easy to just start adding slide after slide to your presentation. When I first presented at a conference, I ended up with 40 slides for a 15-minute presentation. I was lucky enough to be working with some more experienced researchers that reeled in my confusing and inconsistent slides.

I started again and made a clear outline first. I simply sketched it out, slide by slide and got back into a flow,  but this time it was in a much more controlled manner. Take your time and make a strong outline to keep you on track. Use this checklist to keep you on the right road.

2. Build your presentation within time constraints

Ensuring your timing is right is so important when presenting at a conference. If you have ten minutes to present, prepare ten minutes of material . No more. If you don’t practice your timing, you may not get a chance to highlight your findings and recommendations – the most important part.

In my experience conference organisers are usually quite clear about how much time you have allocated. The best presenters know exactly how much time they have to work with, then they tailor their presentation to fit the time and keep an eye on the time throughout.

And if you are running out of time, stop. Jump past a couple of slides if you need to make one last point.

3. Use visuals to illuminate, not obscure

Images are key elements to any presentation. Whether it’s a pie chart to show percentages, or a strong image to convey a point, visuals can be much more effective than words. They help reinforce or complement the ideas or points you’re trying to get across. Your audience may be able to understand your message a little easier when it’s presented with visuals that relate to it.

But remember to keep your visuals clean and simple. Some of the worst conference presentations I’ve seen are ones with complex imagery that forces the audience to try and figure out how the image and the speaker’s point are related.

4. Aim for simplicity and consistency

Don’t be afraid of using some text and bullet points if you need to make a point that isn’t easy to communicate visually, or if you’re discussing steps or sequences.

But use them to communicate your point to the audience, not as a prompt for what you want to say. That’s what your speaker notes are for. You want your audience to listen to you instead of reading from your slides, so less is more in terms of the text on the slides.

Inconsistency in slides is a subtle thing but can take away from a presentation very easily. While slides with different colours may look nice, they may be distracting to your audience. Use a consistent template with the same fonts to make it easier for your audience to follow along.  And remember, your audience will view your conference presentation from a distance, so use large clear fonts and as few words as possible in your slides.

5. Know your research audience

One of the most common mistakes I have seen being made by conference presenters is presenting a roomful of people with information they already have . A great way to make this mistake is spending the majority of your presentation going over the existing literature and giving background information on your work.

Just like when you’re in the audience at a conference, researchers are there to learn about your new and exciting research, not to hear a summary of old work. The worst speakers assume that the audience doesn’t know anything and need educating.

Before you begin speaking to a group, find out what they already know and where they are up to with your topic. It’s not easy to get details on all delegates but you will know the plenary sessions and whoever you have networked with before this. Most conferences use mobile apps now, and these are a great way to get an insight to exactly who is attending the conference and what their speciality topics are from the programme.

This can give you a good idea of how much background you need to give so that your key presentation points will make sense. A good rule of thumb is that if you’re giving a 15-minute presentation, by the 6th minute you should be discussing your data or case study.

Ex Ordos Virtual Conference Platform

6. Rehearse your presentation

I shouldn’t even need to include this on the list, but so many people fail to do enough of this. Rehearsing is crucial to making you feel comfortable with every word you are going to say. Rehearse your paper aloud in private and in front of a friend. This can feel a bit embarrassing, but reading it through in your head never corresponds to the time it takes to read it aloud in public. The more times you say the words aloud, the more you will be familiar with it. And if you are familiar with what you’re saying, your confidence in your conference presentation will increase.

When I’m practising for a conference presenting slot, I rehearse out loud in my bedroom. It feels strange but it works. If you’re feeling self-conscious about this (or don’t want your housemates to overhear) you could play some music at the same time.

Another strategy that works well is recording yourself . This lets you see where you’re doing well and where you need to improve. And if being recorded makes you feel under pressure, this helps mimic the actual feelings you’ll have while presenting in front of a real live audience. So you’ll get a good idea for how you will perform on the day.

After I’ve recorded myself, I usually ask a friend or colleague to listen and be critical of my efforts. Getting grilled beforehand really helps ease any presenting nerves or anxiety you will get if you’re unlucky enough to get grilled after your presentation.

7. Prepare, prepare, prepare

Preparation for anything is key, especially for conference presentations.  You’ve prepared enough to find the right conference , and to submit a proposal worthy of acceptance, now you need to prepare to present it.  

Know your slides inside out. You should use them as a guide for your presentation, not an autocue.

Think about your clothing. Wear something that makes you feel comfortable when facing your audience. If you’re not sure what clothes are appropriate, check the dress code with the organisers or with colleagues.

Conference session rooms can get stuffy, so if you’re someone who sweats when they’re nervous, choose clothing that won’t show it. And don’t wear something that’s awkward and restrictive, even if you think it will project a confident image. If you’re not comfortable, you won’t look or feel confident.

Try to get a good night’s sleep before your presentation; everything looks better and more manageable when you’re well rested.

8. Back up your backup

A good way to think about your presentation technology requirements is this: any tech you want to use can and will fail. It’s not beyond the realms of possibility for your memory card or flash drive not to work when the big moment comes. Or for your laptop to decide to reboot. Or for the conference’s presentation facilities to fail.

Arm yourself with a back-up plan so you aren’t left stranded if things go awry. As well as following the conference instructions to submit your presentation online or at their drop-off desk, copy your slides to an online deck service and upload a copy of your presentation to Dropbox . Then email yourself any links you need so they’re within arms reach if you need them. Take no chances.

And if you have any specific audio-visual requirements, make them known to the conference organiser well in advance. If they don’t ask, tell them anyway. Never assume that they’ll just know . Not all conference venues can accommodate the latest technology.

9. Get to know the presenting space

One thing presenters often forget to do before starting a presentation is sussing out the room they’ll be speaking in. If you get the opportunity, get down to the room where you’ll be presenting ahead of time and check it out. This will save you from the last-minute panic of running across an unfamiliar campus, trying to find the room you’re supposed to be in.

Most rooms will be kitted out with everything you need to present, but there’s no harm in making sure all the equipment you need is there and works. Take no risks and you’ll eliminate nasty last-minute surprises.

Get comfortable with the presentation area, walk around it until you feel familiar with the environment in the room. This will save you the shock of unexpectedly being faced with a large/tiny room. Bring your set of notes with you, and make sure you can read them in the lighting conditions in the room. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need – if there are open windows that are bothering you, ask for them to be closed.

10. Use body language to your advantage

Body language has an important role in presentations, especially at academic conferences. There are usually a lot of facts and findings to be highlighted in a conference presentation, and you need to use all the presenting tools available to you to remain interesting and effective throughout. Your gestures, tone of voice and positivity can be seen through your body language and may determine how engaged your audience is.

When you’re speaking, a few body language tips can help improve your rapport with your audience. For your audience to engage, it’s important that they can see you and that you look at them and make eye contact. Try to spread your gaze, rather than staring at one person. And avoid focusing intently on your laptop screen, your notes, or the floor. This can give the impression that you’re nervous or uninterested, and can also prevent you from projecting your voice clearly.

If possible, don’t stand behind a lectern or hold any notes. Instead, keep a straight, relaxed, open posture, and feel free to be comfortable with the full stage and move around the stage a little as you speak.

The great presenters use gestures to emphasise their points and to highlight their visual material to guide the audience’s attention. When you see a speaker rooted rigidly to the spot and without positive body language the presentation loses a lot of its emphasis. Avoid other distracting movements, such as repeatedly putting your hands in and out of your pockets, jingling coins in your pocket, or fiddling with pens, clothing, or props such as laser pointers.

11. Encourage questions and discussion

If you manage your time well, you’ll have sufficient time left for questions and an open discussion after your conference presentation. Expect questions, but don’t worry if there aren’t any. If your audience is reluctant to ask questions, a good session chair will usually pose a question. Presentation questions are a good thing . They give you a chance to elaborate on something that wasn’t clear or address the topic that everyone wants to know but you forgot to include.

Answering questions can be nerve-wracking because of the fear that you might not be able to answer them. But when the audience is asking questions, it’s generally out of genuine interest, not to trip you up, so see it as a good opportunity to explore how you can expand your work.

Though the majority of questions in a conference Q&A session are fairly benign, like me, you could find yourself at the end of a grilling (perhaps from someone who’s research you’ve had the temerity to challenge) after you present at a conference. If you think this might happen to you, it’s worth doing some reading on how to respond to destructive criticism from peers.

And if you’re feeling nervous about facing tough questions, here’s something that might help: if you’re attending with someone you know (and trust), ask them to ask you a question. Some people even like to agree in advance what the question will be. This can simply help get the ball rolling and boost your confidence.

And finally, a trick I learnt from an experienced researcher is to keep a notebook and pen handy and to make notes of the good questions to reflect on later.

Presenting skills are for life

Once you’ve mastered the tips above, you’ll be all set to give a great conference presentation. And the more you do, the easier they’ll get. Until you’ll reach a point when you can’t remember how nervous they used to make you.

One final note on audience size: never take it personally. Some of the best papers out there were presented to small audiences. Nobody ever asks how many people were in the audience, and you don’t have to state it on your academic CV. No matter what size the audience, a great presentation is a great presentation.

Brian Campbell

Brian is a data-driven marketeer, and responsible for helping people find Ex Ordo. He works part-time as a lecturer at the National University of Ireland, Galway, and loves quizzing his students on the latest business trends and insights. Brian enjoys hanging out with his little nephews, and playing and watching sports. He also likes to keep a keen eye on the scholarly research space, and has co-organised an academic conference to boot.

Conference software, powered by people who care.


Presenting at a conference for the first time

Posted by Belinda Huckle  |  On July 25, 2022  |  In Presentation Training, Tips & Advice

In this Article...quick links

The 3 Ps – Preparation, Practise, Practicalities

Step 1. decide your destination, step 2. plan your roadmap., step 3. determine your points of persuasion, step 4. put in your proof., preparing your opening, preparing your slides, preparing for the venue, 2) practise, 3) practicalities , follow us on social media for more great presentation tips:.

man presenting at a conference for the first time

It’s probably safe to say that you’ve had some experience of presenting already; to colleagues, prospective clients, or perhaps to the board. But presenting at a conference for the first time is something different, whether you’ve asked to do it, or been invited, or nominated to do it: by your boss, a colleague, a client, an industry body, or even an event management company.

The mere thought of standing up in front of a large crowd can be daunting, to say the least, but it needn’t be if you follow our practical, step-by-step guide to presenting at a conference for the first time. We’ll take you through the 3 Ps  – Preparation, Practice and Practicalities, share some of our unique SecondNature Mapper Methodology to help you tailor your presentation to the needs of the audience, and give you a handy checklist of dos and don’ts.

There are some key differences to take into account when presenting at a conference as opposed to in a meeting or boardroom setting. Obviously, in every setting, your presentation should be driven by audience needs. In a boardroom, you are likely to be the only person dealing with a particular subject, whereas at a conference, you are probably one of a group of experts speaking, from varying perspectives, about a similar theme or topic.

It’s more likely that you’ll be telling a story rather than presenting facts and figures – so the way you use slides may well be very different – remember that at a conference, particularly, the audience is there to listen and not to read!


Preparing your presentation.

Before you even start to think about what you might say you need to do your research. There will undoubtedly be an overall theme to the conference and that will dictate the type of audience that will be attending.  Remember, context is everything! So some key things to find out include:

  • How many people are likely to be in the audience?
  • What organisations are attending?
  • What is the level of seniority / roles of the attendees?
  • What is their knowledge of the subject?
  • Who are the other speakers and how does their subject matter fit with yours?
  • How much time do you have?
  • Will you be taking questions?

conference audience

Also, think about your presentation  from the audience’s point of view . In other words, walk in their shoes.

  • How does your presentation fit within the overall conference?
  • Why would you want to attend your talk specifically?
  • What would you hope to learn and /or get out of it?
  • How would you want to use the information you’ve heard in the future?

You need to clearly identify the  what  (what is it that the audience wants) and the  why  (why do they care), as this will be at the centre of the story that you want to share. Only once you know what the audience wants and their motivators for listening to you, can you begin to craft your presentation and the narrative.

An effective way of creating an impactful and memorable narrative is to use the 4 steps in our Presentation Mapper TM methodology.

4 steps in our Presentation Mapper


The Destination is the end point you want to take your audience to. Why do this first? Well, a presentation should take the audience on a journey. In the same way that when we take a journey in a car, we always decide where we want to end up before we put our keys in the ignition; so you need to decide where you want to end up in your presentation before you switch on your laptop.

Put the  what  and the  why  into a coherent sentence that you can commit to with conviction. This is your Destination point. Everything you say and do during your presentation should lead the audience to this final Destination.

To do this, chunk up your content into 3 – 5 ‘chapters’. Give each chapter a punchy heading. Try to resist having more than 5 chapters otherwise your story will feel long-winded and meandering.

You need one  Point of Persuasion , or key message, for each chapter of your story. To decide what these should be answer these two questions:

  • What is the one key takeaway from each chapter of your story that you want your audience to remember? You have to be strict with yourself here and make sure it is only one key message. Any more than that and frankly your audience will think you’re waffling.
  • Now ask yourself how does this key message take my audience closer to the Destination? If it does, you’ve just developed an impactful Point of Persuasion! If not, re-evaluate your key message until you have something that does.

Content in scrabble

Your Proof is your content. At this stage, it’s important to think about the wants and needs of your audience. Carefully consider, if you were them, what types of content would be the most meaningful, relevant, motivating and/or inspiring.

If you follow these four simple steps, you’ll have a clear, compelling narrative to share with your audience. For more ideas check out our recent blog on  strategic storytelling .

Having created the main narrative of your presentation, try to include ways to involve the audience in your story. This can be done by introducing passive or participative techniques to your narrative.

Passive involvement is where you involve the audience but they don’t need to respond. For example:

  • Pre-empting questions or concerns e.g.  ‘Looking at the scale of the idea, some of you might be worried about whether your company can incorporate the extra workload.  I’d like to chat about that now.’
  • Using rhetorical questions e.g.  ‘So, when exactly should we be adapting to this new way of working? Well …’
  • Referring to the audience e.g.  ‘I was chatting to John from Company X and he’s also worried about the carbon footprint of our industry.’
  • Getting the audience to imagine a situation e.g.  ‘Imagine life if you could finish work by 5.00pm 3 times a week.  Think about all the extra exercise, family, social, cooking, hobby time you would have. That’s what I’m going to talk about today – work/life balance.’
  • Acknowledging success or challenges e.g.  ‘I’d like to congratulate the folks at Company Y on the way they are leading the field in this area. ’

The great thing about Passive audience involvement is that it’s a low-risk way of having a relationship with everyone in your audience.

raised hands in the air at conference

Participative audience involvement is where you ask questions of your audience. In a conference setting, these are more likely to be closed questions where you are looking for a show of hands rather than an individual response. They are also a good way to warm the audience up – especially if they don’t know each other.

Open questions (e.g. w hat other ideas can you think of that would improve your life/work balance? ) should probably be avoided if this is your first time presenting at a conference. They can put you off your stride and interrupt the flow of your narrative.

The next step is to think about  how best to open your presentation , using an Attention Grab, so that you hook the audience in the first 7-10 seconds of your presentation. Here are some Attention Grab suggestions that can help:

  • Make the title of your presentation memorable. Maybe by asking a provocative question, or stating something curious or unexpected.
  • Begin with a startling statistic, a graphic graph, an arresting image or a powerful video – these are all great ways , using something visual, to reel the audience in right from the start of your presentation.
  • Another memorable Attention Grab, that can be visual, can be introducing a prop. What’s great about props is that they can also be used repeatedly during a presentation. They can be quite fun too!
  • If you’d prefer a verbal Attention Grab, then think about starting with a story or an anecdote. Or perhaps a case study. Or maybe an inspiring quote.
  • Or, as an alternative, you might decide you want to ask your audience a question at the start of your presentation. In a conference setting, this is more likely to be a closed (yes/no) question. A good idea is to ask the audience to give you a show of hands. With this approach, you should always raise your hand in response to your question. This will give members of your audience confidence to put their hand up too. And keep in mind, most people like saying Yes, rather than No. So, try to think of a positive question if you can.

Remember, no matter what Attention Grab you use, make sure it’s relevant to your message in some way.

Having crafted the narrative for your story and included a great hook for the start of your presentation, you now want to think about developing your slides. We don’t need to tell you to use minimal slides and make them impactful with images rather than words!

For 5 tips for creating great slides have a look at this blog:  Using Visual Aids in Presentations.

conference venue

Whilst creating a compelling narrative with clear chapters and a final destination is key, it is also imperative that you are fully prepared in terms of the layout of the venue, understanding what IT will be available to you, and how you can use the stage to increase your presence.

Ideally visit the venue in advance, if this isn’t possible ask for photos of the room:

  • Will there be auto cue or comfort monitors – monitors you can see but the audience can’t?
  • What does the lectern look like and where will it be positioned?
  • What kind of microphone is available? Is it hand-held, on the lectern or a clothing mic? If you have the choice, always go for a clothing mic. This gives you the opportunity to walk away from the lectern and ‘ own the room’  using techniques like the ‘attention triangle’
  • Where will you be before your presentation? How far will you have to walk from there to the stage?
  • Who will be introducing you? Make sure you give them a strong intro, including a relevant bio, so that they can establish your credibility even before you speak.

Developing a compelling presentation is only part of the challenge. The delivery – how you move and use the stage, your body language, props, audience involvement techniques – are just as important, so make sure you are totally familiar with the room and setting and can incorporate this knowledge during your practise runs.

female presenter practising presenting at a conference for the first time

Practise, practise, practise! In front of the mirror, colleagues, friends, family…and make sure you do it standing up. Try to move around in the same way you will on stage.

When running through your practise sessions, don’t use a tight script, and don’t try to memorise every word. Instead, treat your presentation as if it is a conversation. This will help you come across as more confident, relaxed and engaging.

Having said you shouldn’t use a script, you do want to make sure that you nail the start of your presentation. So, make sure you have this part down pat.

You also want to make sure you land the 3-5 Points of Persuasion within your presentation, as these are key messages you want the audience to take away from your presentation. And it goes without saying that you want to close your presentation on a high. So again, practise delivering your Destination sentence with maximum confidence and impact.

You should also practise where you will be standing when you deliver each chapter of your story and how you might introduce movement and hand gestures to add impact to your narrative.

Practise pausing . Pausing at the end of each chapter of your story, and then moving to a different spot on the stage when you start a new chapter, is a great way to maintain the audience’s attention and to create a ‘visual flow’ to your narrative. You should also practise moving your head to make sure you make eye contact with every part of the room. Mentally divide the room into quarters if this helps.

It goes without saying that you want to practise using your voice to vary your vocal tone (change vocal gears) in order to bring your story to life. A good way to do this is to think about matching your voice with the content you’re delivering. So if you’re sharing something positive, use an upbeat, animated tone (high gear). Conversely, if what you’re sharing is more serious or perhaps negative, use a downbeat, more sombre tone (low gear). Using your voice in this way can actually be quite fun. And of course this will keep your audience engaged too.

Importantly, practise how to  manage nerves  and control your breathing before the presentation (the link above is a dedicated blog on how to do this effectively so check it out if you’d like to know more).

We’ve also got some great, bite-sized tips to help you understand how you can use your body language to add impact to your story.

  • Moving with purpose
  • The attention triangle
  • What to do with your hands

Each time you practise, your confidence will grow. Your story will become imprinted on your brain.

Don’t worry if your words vary slightly each time as long as the opening, Points of Persuasion and Destination sentence are strong.

You will become more comfortable moving, pausing, using hand gestures or props. And the more comfortable you come across, the more engaged the audience will be, so don’t be tempted to skimp on this part of the process!

Arrive early. Really early. If you have the chance, get on stage, walk around it, get a feel for the environment, the space, the lighting, where the screen is, where the lectern is etc.

Have a bottle of water with you.

Chat with the conference attendees/delegates so you get to know them beforehand and you have friendly faces in the audience.

female presenter at lectern presenting at a conference for the first time

Remember to smile, especially during the first 60 seconds. Why? There’s plenty of scientific evidence proving the many positive effects smiling has on our emotions.  Smiling releases endorphins, natural painkillers, and serotonin.

Together these three neurotransmitters make us feel good from head to toe. Smiling also relieves stress, lowers blood pressure and boosts the immune system. It also makes us appear more successful, and guess what, it’s contagious. Smiling will create the impression that you actually want to be there, which in turn will help to make the audience want to be there too. This is a very, very easy, but very, very powerful tip on how to improve your presentation skills, but one so many people don’t do – it’s SO EASY. Just do it!

If you’ve followed these steps you should have a well-rehearsed, compelling and engaging, audience-focussed presentation that you can deliver with enthusiasm and confidence.

Final Tips – Presenting at a conference for the first time (Dos vs Don’ts)

  • Know your presenting space
  • Move with purpose and maintain a positive, confident posture
  • Involve your audience
  • Keep breathing
  • Pause if you need to take a breath
  • Make eye contact
  • Wear something that makes you stand out from your background but is also comfortable
  • Have a back-up plan in case there are IT problems
  • Be yourself
  • Read from a script
  • Tell the audience you are nervous
  • Go over time
  • Hide behind the lectern
  • Use closed body language, such as folding your arms
  • Talk too fast
  • Forget to smile!

Tailored and personalised presentation skills training

If you need to build your team’s conference presentation skills through personalised training or coaching that is tailored to your business, we can help.

For nearly 20 years we have been the  Business Presentation Skills Experts , training & coaching thousands of people in an A-Z of Australian blue-chip organisations – check out  what they say about our programs .

To find out more, click on one of the buttons below:

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Written By Belinda Huckle

Founder and Managing Director

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Conference Presentations - Top Tips for Success

Hosting & Logistics Read time: 8 minutes

Understanding Conference Presentations

Conference presentations - 6 tips for success, conference presentation format guidelines, how to start a conference presentation, how to end a conference presentation, conference presentations at icc belfast.

Navigating conference presentations can be a formidable task, particularly for those venturing into it for the first time. The challenges of capturing and maintaining the audience's attention, delivering content with clarity, and managing nerves can seem overwhelming. However, the benefits of mastering this skill are multifaceted. Effective conference presentations not only elevate a speaker's reputation but also enhance the overall quality of the event, fostering knowledge exchange, engagement, and networking.

For event organisers seeking to enhance their conferences, and for speakers aiming to excel on stage, this blog serves as a compass. Whether it's an academic seminar, an annual general meeting, or an address at the opening ceremony of a large-scale conference, the principles of an impactful presentation remain consistent. Drawing on previous experience, the award-winning ICC Belfast team will offer real life examples which offer techniques to craft compelling narratives, employ visual aids effectively and engage diverse audiences. By amalgamating insights from various types of conferences, this guide equips event organisers and keynote speakers alike with the tools needed to leave a lasting impact in the dynamic world of conference presentations.

A conference presentation is a structured communication where a speaker delivers information, insights, or research findings to an audience, typically at a formal gathering. It involves sharing information, insights, research findings, ideas, or opinions with an audience gathered to learn and engage with the presented content.

In the diverse landscape of conferences, presentations take on various forms, each tailored to specific objectives and audiences. Understanding the different types of conference presentations is pivotal for speakers as it lays the foundation for effective communication and engagement.

Types of conference presentations: 

  • Full paper - A comprehensive presentation detailing research methods, results, and conclusions, often accompanied by visual aids.
  • Short paper - A condensed version of a full paper, highlighting key aspects of research or ideas.
  • Workshop - An interactive session where participants engage in hands-on activities or collaborative learning under the guidance of a facilitator.
  • Poster - Visual representation of research or ideas displayed on a board, allowing for one-on-one discussions with attendees.
  • Discussion paper - A presentation aimed at stimulating dialogue about a specific topic, often involving thought-provoking questions.
  • Panel discussion - A group of experts engage in a moderated conversation, offering diverse viewpoints on a shared theme.
  • Roundtable discussion - Similar to a panel, but typically involves all participants discussing a topic with less formal structure.

Conference Presentations Tips | Infographic | ICC Belfast

A good conference presentation hinges on understanding the audience's motivations for attending, tailoring content to their knowledge level, and maintaining simplicity and consistency throughout the talk. Conference presentations should always include captivating visuals and clear structure to enhance the delivery of information.

To ensure success of conference presentations, the experienced ICC Belfast team have curated a list of top tips that encompass effective content creation, delivery techniques, and strategies for audience interaction.

  • Practice and rehearse
  • Speak clearly and enunciate
  • Use body language
  • Use appropriate visuals
  • Utilise storytelling
  • Encourage Audience Interaction

1. Practice and Rehearse

Practice is an essential ingredient for a successful conference presentation, as it cultivates confidence, smooth delivery, and the ability to handle unexpected situations. Begin by rehearsing on your own, and then practice in front of a colleague to receive constructive feedback.

For the 2023 SistersIN Celebration Event , Oonagh O’Reilly, Director of Sales and Marketing at ICC Belfast, organised for the cohort to come to the venue for a rehearsal. As the conference emcee, this ensured that Oonagh knew the key moments within the event programme and could tailor her delivery to keep the energy high. Furthermore, allowing the event organisers to get acquainted with the presentation space allowed them to get familiar with the environment, understand the technical production set up and ensured timings did not exceed the allocated slots.

Oonagh’s top tips for practice and rehearsing for a presentation:

  • Rehearse on your own and with a colleague - Begin by rehearsing your conference presentation alone, practicing each section while focusing on clarity and flow. Then, when you feel confident enough, present in front of a colleague you trust. This offers invaluable feedback on content, delivery, and overall impact and helps you fine-tune your presentation based on external perspectives.
  • Timing – Timing is not just important for an emcee, but for everyone involved in the event programme. It is crucial for maintaining audience engagement and respecting the event schedule. My number one advice for sticking to your time allocation is to practice your presentation with a timer. This allows you to adjust your pace, elaborate on key points, or refine sections as needed.
  • Get familiar with the presentation space – When I am presenting at an event, I will always take the opportunity to get acquainted with the space beforehand. For anyone presenting at ICC Belfast, our team will often encourage event organisers to explore the layout of the venue, noting where they'll stand, how the visuals will be displayed, and how their voice carries in the room. Familiarity with the physical setup, lighting, and technical aspects can significantly boost your confidence and adaptability during the actual presentation.


Main Auditorium | SistersIn Celebration Event 2023 | Case study image | ICC Belfast |1920x1080px

2. Speak Clearly and Enunciate

Speaking considerations are pivotal for the success of a conference presentation, as they directly impact the audience's comprehension and engagement. In the context of hybrid events, where virtual presentations are prominent, maintaining eye contact with the camera, speaking clearly, and encouraging interaction through virtual platforms offers an inclusive and dynamic experience.

As part of the 2023 Future Shapers Programme , Laurel Gray, Senior Event Manager at ICC Belfast, attended AIPC’s Annual Conference in Luxembourg. Laurel presented a whitepaper to senior event leaders from more than 50 countries on a new industry concept - E:QUAL - co-created in collaboration with Future Shapers peers to help raise standards of health, wellbeing, welfare, safety, recruitment, and training for event professionals.

Laurel’s top speaking considerations when delivering a presentation:

  • Cadence considerations - Pay attention to your cadence, ensuring a steady pace with intentional pauses for emphasis and allowing for natural breaths. When you incorporate well-timed pauses, you are allowing your audience to absorb the information and as the presenter it also gives you a moment to catch your breath.
  • Volume considerations - Mind your volume, especially if using speaking equipment, to maintain clarity and avoid straining listeners. Ensure your volume is consistent and appropriate for the room size and audience. If speaking equipment is involved, conduct sound checks before the presentation to avoid technical hiccups.
  • Hybrid considerations - In the realm of virtual presentations at hybrid events, pay special attention to your audience. Maintain eye contact with the camera, address remote participants directly, and acknowledge their questions and comments. Leverage the support offered by venues like ICC Belfast by utilising high-quality audiovisual equipment, reliable internet connections, and appropriate lighting.


AIPC  2023 | Laurel Gray | ICC Belfast

3. Use Body Language

Body language is a critical element for achieving success in conference presentations as it amplifies your message, establishes a connection with the audience, and conveys confidence. Nonverbal cues such as gestures, posture, and eye contact enhance your overall communication, making your content more engaging, credible, and memorable.

In 2022, Jenni Yau, Senior Association Account Manager at ICC Belfast, gave a quickfire presentation at the ICCA Global Association Forum on how legacy initiatives contribute to a successful ESG strategy. With reference to One Young World and the hybrid launch event that took place at ICC Belfast in 2021, Jenni spoke about how the passion of Team Belfast helped to win this event for the city in a year that coincides with the 25 th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.

Jenni’s top tips for using body language effectively when delivering a presentation:

  • Presentation style – For every presentation I do I like to tailor my body language to match the tone and style of the presentation. For example, if the content is formal, I maintain a poised posture and controlled gestures. For a more enthusiastic talk, I’ll try and express energy through dynamic movements and facial expressions that complement the narrative.
  • Expressing ideas and engaging audiences - Leverage body language to enhance the communication of your ideas. Use gestures to emphasise key points and visualise concepts. Move purposefully around the stage to maintain audience engagement and spatially represent different ideas or perspectives.
  • Maximising eye contact and avoiding reading – I believe when you establish strong eye contact with your audience you inevitably build rapport and credibility. Focus on connecting with different sections of the audience, ensuring everyone feels involved. Minimise reading from notes by practicing your presentation thoroughly. This allows you to maintain a natural flow and engage with the audience directly, fostering a more authentic connection.


Main Auditorium | Jenni Yau | Hero Image | ICC Belfast | 1920x1080px

4. Include Appropriate Visuals

Visuals are the cornerstone of effective conference presentations, offering a multi-dimensional layer to content. Well designed visuals, such as slides or multimedia elements, not only reinforce key points but also cater to diverse learning styles, enabling audiences to grasp complex information more easily and enhancing the overall impact of your message.

At the Tessitura Learning & Community Conference (TLCC) Europe 2022 , Barry Connolly, Head of ICT, Digital, Data and Insights at ICC Belfast alongside Pete McKevitt, Head of Entertainment at Waterfront Hall and Ulster Hall, gave a presentation to the Tessitura global community on our organisation’s digital transformation. Using visual aids, Barry and Pete's session, ‘Automation for Domination’, broke down the complex marketing and workflow automations that were implemented across our core systems including Tessitura in order improve the customer journey and improve the average working day for colleagues.

Barry’s top tips for using visuals when delivering a presentation:

  • Utilise diverse visual aids - Incorporate a variety of visual aids like graphs, charts, pictures, infographics, and videos to cater to different learning styles. When presenting, ensure each visual element directly supports the content you're discussing, avoiding overcrowded slides and opting for clarity over complexity.
  • Branding considerations - Align visual aids with your branding by using consistent colours and fonts. This fosters a professional and cohesive look throughout the presentation. As the presenter you will want branding elements to enhance rather than distract from the content, striking a balance between visual appeal and clarity.
  • Leverage the venue’s visual support – The venue's advanced technology should guarantee high-quality displays, sound, and smooth multimedia transitions which will elevate your presentation's impact and engagement. For example, state-of-the-art AV equipment available to event organisers at ICC Belfast will ensure a seamless integration of visuals into your presentation.


Main Auditorium | Barry Connolly | ICC Belfast

5. Utilise Storytelling

Storytelling and anecdotes serve as powerful tools in conference presentations, adding a human touch and emotional resonance to your content. By weaving relatable narratives, you engage the audience on a personal level, making complex concepts more accessible and memorable. Stories captivate attention, create connections, and help listeners relate your message to their own experiences, enhancing the overall impact and effectiveness of your presentation.

At the Association of British Professional Conference Organisers (ABPCO) Festival of Learning 2023 event Charlie McCloskey, Director of Events and Customer Experience at ICC Belfast, was asked to take part in a roundtable discussion about award-winning conferences. Charlie shared the real life example of accessibility enhancements made in advance of Harkin Summit to make ICC Belfast a truly inclusive conference venue. As a result, delegates of Harkin Belfast congratulated ICC Belfast and organisers on a fantastic programme and standard of the event for disabled professionals.

We’re going to use this as the standard and the mark going forward for making sure that all of our Summits are totally accessible in every way possible and that’s what you have done here.

Senator Tom Harkin, Founder of the Harkin Institute for Public Policy and Citizen Engagement

Charlie’s top tips for captivating audiences through storytelling:

  • Illustrating complex ideas – I like to use storytelling to simplify intricate concepts. When you craft narratives that parallel your main points, this helps the audience digest the content because they can relate it back to their own situations or experiences. This engagement fosters better understanding and retention of your message.
  • Mnemonic purposes - Employ anecdotes as mnemonic devices to aid audience recall. Associating information with a compelling story makes it easier for listeners to remember key takeaways long after the presentation ends, enhancing the lasting impact of your content.
  • Crafting concise stories - Opt for concise, focused stories that directly support your presentation's objectives. Avoid digressions or long-winded narratives that might detract from your core message. Stories should be succinct, contributing to the overall flow of the presentation while maintaining the audience's attention and engagement.


ABPCO | Charlie McCloskey | ICC Belfast

6. Encourage Audience Interaction 

Incorporating audience interaction into a conference presentation is pivotal for fostering engagement, active participation, and a sense of connection.

For Event Tech Live 2022, Dave Young, Head of Production at ICC Belfast, presented ‘Expectations of Venue Tech’ on the Innovation Theatre stage. Throughout the presentation, Dave encouraged audience engagement by inviting questions and incorporated interactive elements like QR codes which helped transform his presentation from a one-sided dialogue into a dynamic exchange of ideas. This involvement kept the audience attentive throughout and created a follow up action which extended his knowledge sharing between industry peers.

Dave’s top tips for encouraging audience interaction include:

  • Prepare for Q&A session - Allocate time for a structured Q&A session at the end of your presentation. Anticipate potential questions related to your content and rehearse concise and clear answers. This encourages audience engagement and allows attendees to seek clarifications, fostering an open dialogue.
  • Contact information on final slide - Include your contact information on the final slide, encouraging attendees to reach out for further discussions or questions. This accessible approach facilitates post-presentation interactions and extends the conversation beyond the conference room. I like to include a QR code that links directly to my LinkedIn profile.
  • Practicalities of virtual discussion in hybrid presentations - In the context of hybrid conferences, ensure smooth virtual interaction. Utilise technology platforms like those supported by ICC Belfast to enable remote participants to ask questions or engage in discussions. Allocate time for both in-person and virtual interactions, offering equal opportunities for all attendees to contribute and ensuring a cohesive experience for both groups.


The structure and format of a presentation hold the key to its success, as they determine the clarity and impact of your message. When preparing a presentation, it's essential not to jump directly into creating a slide deck. Instead, start by outlining your content, identifying key points, and structuring a coherent narrative. This foundational step ensures your presentation flows logically, engages the audience, and maintains focus on the core message before visual aids are integrated.

A well structured conference presentation generally follows a three-part framework: introduction, main body, and conclusion. The introduction should begin with a compelling opener to capture the audience's attention, followed by a clear statement of your presentation's purpose and objectives. In the main body, delve into your key points, supported by relevant evidence, data, and anecdotes. Maintain a logical flow and use visual aids effectively to enhance comprehension. Conclude by summarising the main takeaways and reinforcing your message, leaving the audience with a memorable closing statement or call to action.

Starting a conference presentation effectively sets the stage for a captivating talk. Begin with a attention-grabbing opening, such as a thought-provoking question, a surprising fact, a relevant anecdote, or a compelling quote. After capturing the audience's attention, introduce yourself briefly and provide context for your presentation topic. Clearly state the purpose and objectives of your presentation, letting the audience know what they can expect to learn or gain from your talk. Briefly outline the main topics or key points that will be covered in the presentation, creating a roadmap for the audience to follow. This structured introduction not only engages the audience from the outset but also provides them with a clear sense of direction for the presentation ahead.

Concluding a conference presentation effectively leaves a lasting impression on your audience. Start by summarising the main ideas and key takeaways from your talk, reinforcing the core message you aimed to convey. Consider revisiting the roadmap you outlined in the introduction, showcasing how each topic has been covered. Tie up loose ends, address any unanswered questions or points of ambiguity to offer closure to your audience. End with a powerful closing statement that reinforces your message or encourages action. In your final slide, consider displaying your contact information for further engagement and questions. A well structured conclusion not only reinforces your presentation's impact but also ensures your audience leaves with a clear understanding of the content and a memorable call to action.

Navigating the world of presentations, whether for conferences, seminars, or meetings, comes with a set of challenges and questions. As you strive to deliver impactful talks and engage your audience effectively, uncertainties may arise. These FAQs aim to address some common queries related to presentation practices, providing insights and practical tips to enhance your presentation skills.

What are some common mistakes in conference presentations?

Some common mistakes in conference presentations include overcrowded slides with too much text, lack of clear structure or organisation, reading directly from the slides, not engaging the audience, and exceeding the allotted time. It's important to avoid these pitfalls and focus on delivering a clear, engaging, and well structured presentation.

How do you get over conference presentation nerves?

To overcome conference presentation nerves, it's helpful to practice your presentation multiple times, both alone and in front of friends or colleagues. Breathing exercises, visualisation techniques, and positive self-talk can help manage anxiety. Familiarise yourself with the presentation space, arrive early, and establish eye contact with friendly faces in the audience to build confidence.

Many of the ICC Belfast team have found this short video clip, ‘More confidence in 2 minutes’ , based on a talk originally delivered by Amy Cuddy to be a useful resource.

How do you cite a conference presentation?

When citing a conference presentation, include the presenter's name, presentation title in quotation marks, the name of the conference, date, location, and URL if it's available online.

With state-of-the-art facilities and expert technical teams, ICC Belfast ensures seamless production of conference presentations, enhancing speakers' impact. The venue is equipped with cutting-edge audio visual technology, including high-quality displays and sound systems, ensuring that presentations are visually and audibly impactful. Our event delivery teams are on hand to provide seamless support, from setting up multimedia elements to troubleshooting any technical issues that may arise. The venue's adaptability is a standout feature, accommodating various presentation formats, including virtual conference presentations, and providing hybrid event solutions.


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