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Preparing a MS PowerPoint Presentation for a Talk.

  1. Oct 14, 2007 #1

    I am an undergraduate physics major and I will be presenting a short talk at an upcoming Regional Society of Physics Students (SPS) Meeting. After searching through older posts (on this forum) I found lots of great resources and tips about how to prepare for a talk. However, I did not find any information on tips about how to put together a MS PowerPoint presentation for a talk.

    From the resources and tips I found, I sort of have an idea of what to do however, would like some suggestions.

    Like for example, is there a particular template you guys suggest for talk using powerpoint?

    In addition, I've also read that one should minimize how much math (equations and calculations) they have in their presentation so as to not be cumbersome for the audience.

    Also, how many slides should my powerpoint presentation be for a 10 minute talk?

    Since my audience will be physics students (I'm assuming mostly undergraduates) and their advisors how should I taylor the talk--so to be general enough so most of the audience follows, yet specific enough to get across technical points of my presentation.

    In addition, the conlcusion (the last slide) I've read should focus on the point(s) you want the audience to remember/take with them. How many point(s) should I focus on?

    Also, my talk is unique in the sense that I completed the first half of a project during an internship and then another student took over after I left, and continued the work. Since that student finished the project, how should I mention their contribution to the project in the presentation. Basically, although the focus of my talk will be the research I contributed and the data I collected, I would like towards the end to let the audience know what became of the project after my part was completed. While not taking too much time so it just seems as if I am presenting someone else's research, but still giving credit to the student. So, how would I do that?

    As always any help is appreciated.


  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 14, 2007 #2


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    Some suggestions:

    1) Make sure the presentation looks good on the projector setup
    [not just on your computer screen].
    In particular, some color combinations that might look okay on the computer screen might look terrible or illegible on a so-so projector in a not-so-dark room.

    2) Avoid distracting backgrounds or colors and hard-to-read fonts.
    Avoid unnecessary animation or sound-effects.

    3) If you have to write an equation or something with scientific symbols,
    make it look good enough to put in a professional publication. For example,
    don't write Newton's Gravitation law like this: Fgrav=GM1M2/r^2.
    use the equation editor [free and hopefully installed with Office] or, better,
    use LaTeX:
    [tex]F_{grav}=\displaystyle\frac{G M_1 M_2}{r^2}[/tex] (<-- click me)
    If necessary, go to a place like http://hausheer.osola.com/latex2png and copy the generated image into your Powerpoint, resizing manually if necessary. [You might want to select the transparency option].

    4) Make sure your graphs are large and legible. Make sure your text is legible [for the projector setup and room you are using].

    5) Don't write a lot of text (like a paragraph block).
    If necessary, use bold or underline or color or spacing to distinguish important words or sentences. (Shift-ENTER is good for new-lines without ending the paragraph.)
    Make things "bite-sized" so that they are easier to parse. Try to keep compound words together... and not split onto different lines.

    6) Don't read your slides.

    7) For a ten-minute talk, at most 10-slides.
    Your last slide could be a summary of important ideas.
    For a ten-minute talk, you might plan for (say) 8 minutes... maybe less if the "ten minutes" includes Q&A. (And don't use unfamiliar abbreviations and jargon.)
    Practice the talk... timed, in front of an audience, if possible. Relax.

    8) After your talk, return to this thread and give your own DOs-and-DON'Ts suggestions for others [and possibly yourself] to learn from.
  4. Oct 14, 2007 #3


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    Further to robphy's point (3) if you have a significant amount of math in your presentation, consider abandoning MS Powerpoint and using a LaTeX macro to produce slides. The downside is that if you haven't used LaTeX before it's quite a steep learning curve.

    I would also add another point, stay away from the Comic Sans or similar fonts; it makes your presentation look a little amateurish
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2007
  5. Oct 14, 2007 #4
    You can make the other student a co-author of your presentation. On the first slide of your talk, under the title of your talk write your and his name together. People sometimes underline the name of the author who is actually giving the current talk.
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