How to Write An Academic Presentation

A few months back, I was on Industrial Training; after the IT there is a part of the course where you have to defend your knowledge as submitted in your report by making an oral presentation in front of your peers and a panel of lecturers.

While I was in the audience (and indeed in many seminars I have attended), I noticed how little people know about seminar writing, aesthetics and simplicity. This article will teach you how to write and compile a very simple (and short) PowerPoint presentation.

  1. Pick an appropriate theme: Microsoft PowerPoint comes with loads of free themes that can be used as a backdrop for the presentation. While you want something nice looking, don’t forget that your aim is to communicate and so if the theme is ‘fine’ but you can’t read it clearly, then pick another.
  2. Condense your topic: When writing a presentation, remember that you aren’t there to bore people and give them all the information they will need for a lifetime. Enumerate only the important points (using bullet points, please) and keep each point as concise as possible. For something like an Industrial Training seminar, keep your slides between 8 and 15 (including conclusion and beginning).
  3. Use images: There is nothing more visually unappealing than a monotone of text. From time to time, throw in pictures or graphics. It could be a picture of you doing something during the Industrial Training or a graphic image showing some point you are trying to explain in the presentation. Remember, this is an additive and should not be too much in the presentation.
  4. Make your presentation interesting: Even if your presentation is just an academic one, try as much as possible to make it interesting. Compose one or two humorous (and appropriate) slides (not caricatures, please) and throw them into the mix. Even when you feel your panel is always serious and grumpy, humour is a very strong way to make a point.
  5. Animate your slides: Leaving your slides to the default effects (which is none at all) will have it looking stiff and monotonous. Use appropriate transition effects for your presentation. You can set the slide to fade when you go the next one, you can set your text to become bold face when you click on the mouse or use the indicator. While these are used to drive your message home, they are also used to give your slides life and set you apart from GenPop.
  6. Keep it short! : It can’t be overstated that you should keep your presentation short. If you are told you will have ten minutes to run through the slides, make sure you can finish in seven. This will prevent you from being rushed and by the time the moderator is saying ‘three minutes more’ you can already be concluding. This gives you more time for questions (i.e. more time to think before you answer) and generally leaves you less tense than you would be if you’re cut off mid-presentation.

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