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What It Takes to Give a Great Presentation

presentation article

Five tips to set yourself apart.

Never underestimate the power of great communication. It can help you land the job of your dreams, attract investors to back your idea, or elevate your stature within your organization. But while there are plenty of good speakers in the world, you can set yourself apart out by being the person who can deliver something great over and over. Here are a few tips for business professionals who want to move from being good speakers to great ones: be concise (the fewer words, the better); never use bullet points (photos and images paired together are more memorable); don’t underestimate the power of your voice (raise and lower it for emphasis); give your audience something extra (unexpected moments will grab their attention); rehearse (the best speakers are the best because they practice — a lot).

I was sitting across the table from a Silicon Valley CEO who had pioneered a technology that touches many of our lives — the flash memory that stores data on smartphones, digital cameras, and computers. He was a frequent guest on CNBC and had been delivering business presentations for at least 20 years before we met. And yet, the CEO wanted to sharpen his public speaking skills.

“You’re very successful. You’re considered a good speaker. Why do you feel as though you need to improve?” I asked.

“I can always get better,” he responded. “Every point up or down in our share price means billions of dollars in our company’s valuation. How well I communicate makes a big difference.”

This is just one example of the many CEOs and entrepreneurs I have coached on their communication skills over the past two decades, but he serves as a valuable case in point. Often, the people who most want my help are already established and admired for their skills. Psychologists say this can be explained by a phenomenon called the Dunning-Kruger effect. Simply put, people who are mediocre at certain things often think they are better than they actually are, and therefore, fail to grow and improve. Great leaders, on the other hand, are great for a reason — they recognize their weaknesses and seek to get better.

The following tips are for business professionals who are already comfortable with giving presentations — and may even be admired for their skills — but who, nonetheless, want to excel.

1) Great presenters use fewer slides — and fewer words.

McKinsey is one of the most selective consulting companies in the world, and one I have worked with many times in this area. Senior McKinsey partners have told me that recent MBA hires often try to dazzle clients with their knowledge — and they initially do so by creating massive PowerPoint decks. New consultants quickly learn, however, that less is much more. One partner instructs his new hires to reduce PowerPoint decks considerably by replacing every 20 slides with only two slides.

This is because great writers and speakers are also great editors. It’s no coincidence that some of the most memorable speeches and documents in history are among the shortest. The Gettysburg Address is 272 words, John F. Kennedy’s inauguration speech was under 15 minutes, and the Declaration of Independence guarantees three unalienable rights — not 22.

Key takeaway: Reduce clutter where you can.

2) Great presenters don’t use bullet points.

Bullet points are the least effective way to get your point across. Take Steve Jobs , considered to be one of the most extraordinary presenters of his time. He rarely showed slides with just text and bullets. He used photos and text instead.

Experiments in memory and communication find that information delivered in pictures and images is more likely to be remembered than words alone. Scientists call it “ pictorial superiority .” According to molecular biologist John Medina, our ability to remember images is one of our greatest strengths. “We are incredible at remembering pictures,” he writes . “Hear a piece of information, and three days later you’ll remember 10% of it. Add a picture and you’ll remember 65%.”

Key takeaway: Complement text on slides with photos, videos, and images.

3) Great presenters enhance their vocal delivery.

Speakers who vary the pace, pitch, and volume of their voices are more effective, according to a new research study by Wharton marketing professor, Jonah Berger.

In summary, the research states that effective persuaders modulate their voice, and by doing so, appear to be more confident in their argument. For example, they raise their voice when emphasizing a key message, or they pause after delivering an important point.

Simply put, if you raise and lower the volume of your voice, and alternate between a high pitch and low pitch while delivering key messages, your presentation will be more influential, persuasive, and commanding.

Key takeaway: Don’t underestimate the power of  your voice to make a positive impression on your audience.

4) Great presenters create “wow” moments.

People don’t remember every slide and every word of a presentation. They remember moments, as Bill Gates exemplified back in 2009 in his now famous TED talk .

While giving a presentation on the efforts of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to reduce the spread of malaria, Gates stated: “Now, malaria is, of course, transmitted by mosquitos. I brought some here just so you could experience this.” And with that, he walked out to the center of the stage, and opened the lid from a small jar containing non-infected mosquitoes.

“We’ll let those roam around the auditorium a little bit.”

This moment was so successful in capturing his audience because it was a surprise. His audience had been expecting a standard PowerPoint presentation — complete with graphs and data. But what they got instead was a visceral introduction to the subject, an immersive experience that played on their emotions.

Unexpected moments grab an audience’s attention because the human brain gets bored easily. According to neuroscientist, A.K Pradeep, whom I’ve  interviewed : “Novelty recognition is a hardwired survival tool all humans share. Our brains are trained to look for something brilliant and new, something that stands out, something that looks delicious.”

Key takeaway: Give your audience something extra.

5) Great presenters rehearse.

Most speakers don’t practice nearly as much as they should. Oh, sure, they review their slides ahead of time, but they neglect to put in the hours of deliberate practice that will make them shine.

Malcolm Gladwell made the “ 10,000-hour rule ” famous as a benchmark for excellence — stating, in so many words, that 20 hours of practice a week for a decade can make anyone a master in their field. While you don’t have nearly that long to practice your next presentation, there’s no question that the world’s greatest speakers have put in the time to go from good to great.

Consider Martin Luther King, Jr. His most famous speeches came after years of practice — and it was exactly this level of mastery that gave King the awareness and flexibility to pull off an advanced speaking technique: improvisation. King improvised the memorable section of what is now known as the “Dream Speech” on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. When he launched into the “I have a dream” refrain, the press in attendance were confused. Those words were not included in the official draft of the speech they had been handed. King read the mood of his audience and, in the moment, combined words and ideas he had made in previous speeches.

It’s believed that King gave 2,500 speeches in his lifetime. If we assume two hours of writing and rehearsals for each one (and in many cases he spent much more time than that ), we arrive at the conservative estimate of 5,000 hours of practice. But those are speeches. They don’t take into account high school debates and hundreds of sermons. King had easily reached 10,000 hours of practice by August of 1963.

Key takeaway: Put in the time to make yourself great.  

Never underestimate the power of great communication. It can help you land the job of your dreams, attract investors to back your idea, or elevate your stature within your organization. But while there are plenty of good speakers in the world, using the above tips to sharpen your skills is the first step to setting yourself apart. Stand out by being the person who can deliver something great over and over again.

presentation article

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Presenting With Confidence

Wendy h. vogel.

1 Wellmont Cancer Institute, Kingsport, Tennessee;

Pamela Hallquist Viale

2 University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California

Often, advanced practitioners must give clinical presentations. Public speaking, which is a major fear for most individuals, is a developed skill. Giving an oral presentation is a good way to demonstrate work, knowledge base, and expertise. Giving an effective presentation can help obtain recognition of skills and proficiency as an advanced practitioner or expert in the field. This paper will highlight skills and techniques that can help to improve presentation style and the ability to connect with an audience.

As an advanced practitioner, it is likely that you will be asked to deliver a lecture at some point in your career. Medical presentations can range from casual in-services to professional lectures given to audiences of thousands. Since public speaking is listed as one of the top fears of individuals living in the United States, it pays to develop skills as a speaker or presenter.

Giving an oral presentation is essential to demonstrating your work, knowledge base, and expertise. Giving an effective presentation can help you obtain recognition and acknowledgement of your skills and proficiency as an advanced practitioner or expert in the field. However, many presenters lack the skills to deliver a dynamic and persuasive lecture. Inadequate speaking skills can be detrimental to your ability to deliver an important message, or worse yet, bore your audience. This article will highlight skills and techniques that can help to improve your presentation style and ability to connect with your audience.


If you are afraid of public speaking, you are not alone. Marinho, de Medeiros, Gama, and Teixeira ( 2016 ) studied college students to determine the prevalence of fear of public speaking. In a group of 1,135 undergraduate students (aged 17–58), over half of those surveyed (n = 63.9%) reported a fear of public speaking. Almost the entire group surveyed (89.3%) wanted classes to improve public speaking. Specific traits associated with a fear of speaking were reported as female gender, infrequent experience, and perception of poor voice quality.

Giving a bad presentation can alienate your audience from your lecture and the message you are trying to deliver. Table 1 lists ways to give a bad presentation. But, let us assume you do not want to give a bad presentation at all. In fact, you have an important message to share with your audience and you have been invited to give an hour-long lecture on the subject. How can you deliver that message in an effective and engaging manner?

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Tips for Giving a Bad Presentation


The first tip is to know your subject and know it well. In fact, should your audio-visual equipment malfunction (and if you speak often enough, this is likely to happen), you should have your presentation memorized. However, it is a good idea to make a hard copy of your slides and use them in case of equipment failure. Your audience might not be able to see a graph in detail, but you’ll be able to speak to a study and deliver the results without panicking about your lost slide deck or incompatible presentation equipment.

The second tip is to know your audience. If you are speaking to a group of nurses on a unit, your speaking style and delivery message will be more casual than when you speak to a room of 500 people. Nonetheless, you need to know who you are talking to and what they expect from your lecture. Table 2 lists some information you will want to know about your audience. Researching and knowing your audience will make your message more pertinent and personal.

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What to Know About Your Audience

Understanding who your audience is will enable you to engage your audience. Look excited and enthusiastic. If you are motivated about your topic, then they will be too. Show your interest in your subject and your excitement about sharing the data with your audience.

Another tip is to develop your stage presence. Actors rehearse their roles until they can do it in their sleep, creating their best and most polished dramatic performances. You aren’t in a Broadway musical, but you need to have a stage presence. Recording your lecture and then examining ways to improve your delivery is a great way to develop your speaking skills. Utilize who you are and capitalize on that. Practice in front of a friend or mentor for feedback on your delivery

Your audience will develop an impression of you within the first 15 seconds. Develop an impactful opening to start off right. Table 3 gives some examples of impactful openings. For example, if you wanted to demonstrate the effect that tanning booths have had on the incidence of melanoma in young women, you could open with a photo of a tanning booth, followed by the daunting statistics in melanoma and an example of a case of melanoma. This slide becomes the "hook" that captures your audience’s interest.

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Examples of Impactful Openings

When giving a medical presentation, advanced practitioners have a wonderful chance to share a patient story or vignette that will demonstrate the medical problem and its impact on practice ( Moffett, Berezowski, Spencer, & Lanning, 2014 ). You can do this easily by showing a patient radiological study or lab values, or a picture of a particularly challenging side effect. The net result is that your audience will be intrigued and relate to your story, especially if they take care of that patient population. Tell the story of the patient and describe the significance of the side effect or disease state. Clinical presentations often benefit from case studies that your audience may recognize from their own practices. Some of the most successful presentations use case studies followed by examples of right or wrong approaches to a patient problem, asking the audience to decide best practice and thereby engaging the audience fully. Tell your audience why this topic is important and why they need to know about it ( Moffett et al., 2014 ). Then, share the data supporting the importance of your story and how your audience can use the information to affect or change practice. You want to capture the attention of your audience at the very beginning of your presentation and then hold it. Humor may also be used for openings, but care must be taken with this and should be directed at yourself and not anyone else. Keep the attention of the audience by developing your delivery skills. Lastly, and perhaps the most important advice, is to "practice, practice, practice."


Most medical speakers use PowerPoint to illustrate their talk and data. Using your slides effectively can make an important difference in your presentation and how your audience will respond. Develop your presentation and topic first, then create your slides. The 5/5/5 rule calls for no more than five words per line of text, five lines of text per slide, or five text or data-heavy slides in a row (, 2017 ). See Table 4 for tips for using PowerPoint.

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PowerPoint Tips

Adding images to your slides can create visual interest. Pictures of patients with side effects or complications can immediately show the audience what you are trying to communicate. As with data slides, appropriate referencing of images must be added to each of your slides. If you are using clip art to add interest or humor to your presentation, be mindful of possible distractions to your main message. Use these kinds of imagery sparingly.

Using slides during your presentation can enhance the message you are giving, but it is vital that you use the slide and not let it use you. Know your slides well enough that you do not have to read them. The title of the slide should give the key message of that slide. You do not have to tell your audience everything on the slide; instead, give them an overview of what they are looking at. Never read a slide to an audience. Do not present to the slide; present to your audience.


If your presentation is longer than 20 minutes, you may have a "mid-talk slump." This is a great time to check in with your audience: Do they understand your message thus far? Pause for a moment and engage your audience with a question or anecdote, or perhaps a patient story. Ask your audience if they have something to share regarding the topic. Change the pace and change the inflection of your voice.

Taking questions from your audience can be daunting. Table 5 gives some tips on how to answer questions. Determining when to take questions will depend upon your audience size and makeup, and the setting of your presentation. The most important tip is to listen carefully to the question and be honest if you do not know the answer.

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Handling Questions From Your Audience

Your delivery skills can determine how the audience perceives you and your message. Eye contact, voice, pace, inflection, gestures, and posture are all important aspects of your delivery. Eye contact establishes rapport and a feeling of being genuine. Although you shouldn’t stare someone down, making eye contact while making a statement, then moving to your next audience member and giving another statement fosters engagement. Scanning, which is running your eyes over the audience and not focusing on any one person, should be avoided.

Your voice should be loud and animated. Generally, however loud you think you should be, be louder. Convey your enthusiasm, and vary your pace and inflection.

Gestures can enhance or take away from your talk. Be natural with an open-body approach. Keep your hands at your sides if you’re not using them. Avoid pointing; instead, use open-handed gestures. Your posture should be good, with your shoulders back and weight equally balanced on both feet. When you move, move with purpose; do not sway, rock, or pace ( Butterfield, 2015 ).

It is very normal to feel anxious or nervous. But let that feeling work for you, not against you. When you are faced with a challenging situation, cortisol and adrenaline are released, causing dry mouth, difficulty getting words out, shallow breaths, tremors, sweating, and nervous behaviors like laughter or fidgeting. To combat this, take some deep breaths, which reduces adrenaline output. Slow down and look around. Take a moment, take a sip of water, and smile. Look confident even if you do not feel it. Utilize every resource you can find to further your skills (see Table 6 for further reading).

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Resources for Presenters

Advanced practitioners have many opportunities to give medical presentations, both as part of their job and as a way to advance in their professional practice. The tools provided in this article can help you develop a presentation that will be meaningful and impactful to your audience. It is a great feeling when audience members come to you after your presentation to share with you how much they enjoyed and learned from your talk. With practice, your presentations can make a difference. And remember—your audience wants you to succeed.

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

Article Contents

Body language and movement, verbal delivery.

Effective presentation skills

Robert Dolan, Effective presentation skills, FEMS Microbiology Letters , Volume 364, Issue 24, December 2017, fnx235,

Most PhD's will have a presentation component during the interview process, as well as presenting their work at conferences. This article will provide guidance on how to develop relevant content and effectively deliver it to your audience.

Most organizations list communication skills as one of their most critical issues…and presentation skills are a large component of communications. Presentation skills are crucial to almost every aspect of academic/business life, from meetings, interviews and conferences to trade shows and job fairs. Often times, leadership and presentation skills go hand in hand. NACE Survey 2016 - Ability to communicate verbally (internally and externally) ranked 4.63/5.0 and was the #1 skill employers want. The information provided in this article is designed to provide tips and strategies for delivering an effective presentation, and one that aligns the speaker with the audience.

What type of speaker are you?

Facts and fears of public speaking.

Your blueprint for delivery.

Avoider —You do everything possible to escape from having to get in front of an audience.

Resister —You may have to speak, but you never encourage it.

Accepter —You’ll give presentations but don’t seek those opportunities. Sometimes you feel good about a presentation you gave.

Seeker —Looks for opportunities to speak. Finds the anxiety a stimulant that fuels enthusiasm during a presentation.

Public speaking can create anxiety and fear in many people. Dale Carnegie has a free e-book that provides tips and advice on how to minimize these fears

People are caught between their fear and the fact that many employers expect them to demonstrate good verbal communication skills.

Most interviews by PhD’s have a presentation component.

Academic interviews always have a presentation component.

If your job doesn’t demand presentation skills, odds are that you’ll need them in your next job

Develop your blueprint for delivery:

Information by itself can be boring, unless it's unique or unusual. Conveying it through stories, gestures and analogies make it interesting. A large portion of the impact of communications rests on how you look and sound, not only on what you say. Having good presentation skills allows you to make the most out of your first impression, especially at conferences and job interviews. As you plan your presentation put yourself in the shoes of the audience.

Values …What is important to them?

Needs …What information do they want?

Constraints …Understand their level of knowledge on the subject and target them appropriately.

Demographics …Size of audience and location may influence the presentation. For example, a large auditorium may be more formal and less personal than a presentation to your team or lab mates in a less formal setting.

Structure—Introduction, Content and Conclusion

Body Language and Movement

Verbal Delivery


Build rapport with audience (easier in a smaller less formal setting).

State preference for questions—during or after?

Set stage: provide agenda, objective and intended outcomes

Introduce yourself providing your name, role and function. Let the audience know the agenda, your objectives and set their expectations. Give them a reason to listen and make an explicit benefit statement, essentially what's in it for them. Finally, let them know how you will accomplish your objective by setting the agenda and providing an outline of what will be covered.

Deliver your message logically and structured.

Use appropriate anecdotes and examples.

Illustrate and emphasize key points by using color schemes or animations.

Establish credibility, possibly citing references or publications.

Structure your presentation to maximize delivery. Deliver the main idea and communicate to the audience what your intended outcome will be. Transition well through the subject matter and move through your presentation by using phrases such as; ‘now we will review…’ or ‘if there are no more questions, we will now move onto…’ Be flexible and on course. If needed, use examples not in the presentation to emphasize a point, but don’t get side tracked. Stay on course by using phrases such as ‘let's get back to…’ Occasionally, reiterate the benefits of the content and the main idea of your presentation.

Restate the main objective and key supporting points

For Q&A: ‘Who wants more details?’ (Not, ‘any questions?’)

Prompting for questions: ‘A question I often hear is…’

Summarize the main elements of your presentation as they relate to the original objective. If applicable, highlight a key point or crucial element for the audience to take away. Signal the end is near…‘to wrap up’ or ‘to sum up’. Clearly articulate the next steps, actions or practical recommendations. Thank the audience and solicit final questions.

Your non-verbal communications are key elements of your presentation. They are composed of open body posture, eye contact, facial expressions, hand gestures, posture and space between you and the audience.

Stand firmly and move deliberately. Do not sway or shift.

Move at appropriate times during presentation (e.g. move during transitions or to emphasize a point).

Stand where you can see everyone and do not block the visuals/screen.

Decide on a resting position for hands (should feel and look comfortable).

Gestures should be natural and follow what you are saying.

Hand movement can emphasize your point.

Make gestures strong and crisp…ok to use both arms/hands.

Keep hands away from face.

When pointing to the screen, do so deliberately. Do not wave and face the audience to speak

Look at audience's faces, not above their heads.

If an interview or business meeting…look at the decision makers as well as everyone else.

Look at faces for 3–5 seconds and then move on to the next person.

Do not look away from the audience for more than 10 seconds.

Looking at a person keeps them engaged.

Looking at their faces tells you how your delivery and topic is being received by the audience. The audience's body language may show interest, acceptance, openness, boredom, hostility, disapproval and neutrality. Read the audience and adjust where and if appropriate to keep them engaged. For example, if they seem bored inject an interesting anecdote or story to trigger more interest. If they appear to disapprove, ask for questions or comments to better understand how you might adjust your delivery and content if applicable.

Use active rather than passive verbs.

Avoid technical terms, unless you know the audience is familiar with them.

Always use your own words and phrases.

Cut out jargon/slang words.

Look at your audience and use vocal techniques to catch their attention. Consider changing your pace or volume, use a longer than normal pause between key points, and change the pitch or inflection of your voice if needed. Consider taking a drink of water to force yourself to pause or slowdown. View the audience as a group of individual people, so address them as if they were a single person.

Tips for reducing anxiety

If you experience nervousness before your presentation, as most people do, consider the following.

Be Organized —Knowing that your presentation and thoughts are well organized will give you confidence.

Visualize —Imagine delivering your presentation with enthusiasm and leaving the room knowing that you did a good job.

Practice —All successful speakers rehearse their presentations. Either do it alone, with your team, or video tape yourself and review your performance after. Another tip is to make contact before your talk. If possible, speak with the audience before your presentation begins; however, not always possible with a large audience. Walk up to them and thank them in advance for inviting you to speak today.

Movement —Speakers who stand in one spot may experience tension. In order to relax, move in a purposeful manner and use upper body gestures to make points.

Eye Contact —Make your presentation a one-on-one conversation. Build rapport by making it personal and personable. Use words such as ‘ we ’ , ‘ our ’, ‘ us ’ . Eye contact helps you relax because you become less isolated from the audience.

Personal appearance

Clothes should fit well, not too tight. Consider wearing more professional business-like attire. Find two to three colors that work well for you. Conservative colors, such as black, blue, gray and brown, seem to be the safest bet when presenting or meeting someone for the first time in a professional setting. Depending upon the audience, a sport coat and well-matched dress slacks are fine. Generally, try to avoid bright reds, oranges and whites, since these tend to draw attention away from your face. Avoid jewelry that sparkles, dangles or makes noise. Use subtle accessories to compliment your outfit.

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Giving effective presentations: 5 ways to present your points with power, not just PowerPoint

Giving an effective conference presentation

The prospect of giving a presentation fills some people with dread, while others relish the experience. However you feel, presenting your work to an audience is a vital part of professional life for researchers and academics. Presentations are a great way to speak directly to people who are interested in your field of study, to gather ideas to push your projects forward, and to make valuable personal connections.

In this article, I'll give some tips to help you prepare an effective presentation and capitalize on the opportunities that giving presentations provides.

Also, you might want to try our e-learning module and quiz on how to change the style of phrases we commonly write in research papers into those we would naturally say aloud in presentations. See Tip 4 below for details.

Tip 1: Know your audience​

The first and most important rule of presenting your work is to know your audience members. If you can put yourself in their shoes and understand what they need, you'll be well on your way to a successful presentation. Keep the audience in mind throughout the preparation of your presentation.

By identifying the level of your audience and your shared knowledge, you can provide an appropriate amount of detail when explaining your work. For example, you can decide whether particular technical terms and jargon are appropriate to use and how much explanation is needed for the audience to understand your research.

What is your audience's level of expertise and what knowledge do you have in common?

You can also decide how to handle acronyms and abbreviations. For example, NMR, HMQC, and NOESY might be fine to use without definition for a room full of organic chemists, but you might want to explain these terms to other types of chemists or avoid this level of detail altogether for a general audience.

It can be difficult to gauge the right level of detail to provide in your presentation, especially after you have spent years immersed in your specific field of study. If you will be giving a talk to a general audience, try practicing your presentation with a friend or colleague from a different field of study. You might find that something that seems obvious to you needs additional explanation.

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Tip 2: Create a clear, logical structure

Next, you'll need to think about creating a clear, logical structure that will help your audience understand your work. You're telling a story, so give it a beginning, middle, and end.

To start, it can be helpful to provide a brief overview of your presentation, which will help your audience follow the structure of your presentation. Then, in your introduction, get everyone "on the same page" (i.e., provide them a shared reference point) by giving them a concise background to your work. Don't swamp them with detail, but make sure they have enough information to understand both what your research is about and why it is important (e.g., how it aims to fill a gap in the research or answer a particular problem in the field). By making the foundation of your research clear in the introduction, your audience should be better able to follow the details of your research and your subsequent arguments about its implications.

In the main part of the presentation, talk about your work: what you did, why you did it, and what your main findings were. This is like the Methods and Results sections of a manuscript. Keep a clear focus on what is important and interesting to your audience. Don't fall into the trap of feeling that you have to present every single thing that you did.

Finally, summarize your main results and discuss their meaning. This is your opportunity to give the audience a strong take-home message and leave a lasting impression. When crafting your take-home message, ask yourself this: If my audience remembers one thing from my talk, what do I want it to be?

When you are considering how long each section should be, it is helpful to remember that the attention of the audience will usually wane after 15–20 minutes, so for longer talks, it's a good idea to keep each segment of your presentation to within this amount of time. Switching to a new section or topic can re-engage people's interest and keep their attention focused.

3. Write for your specific readers: consider shared knowledge

Visual materials, probably in the form of PowerPoint slides, are likely to be a vital part of your presentation. It is crucial to treat the slides as visual support for your audience, rather than as a set of notes for you.

A good slide might have around three clear bullet points on it, written in note form. If you are less confident speaking in English, you can use fuller sentences, but do not write your script out in full on the slide.

As a general rule, avoid reading from your slides; you want the audience to listen to you instead of reading ahead. Also, remember that intonation can be 'flattened' by reading, and you don't want to put the audience to sleep. However, if you need to rely on some written text to explain some difficult points and calm your nerves, make sure you pause and look at the audience between these points; then go back to talking and not reading the next slide.

presentation article

Ideally, the slides should focus on relevant visual material, such as diagrams, microscope images, or chemical structures. A good diagram can be far easier for people to understand than words alone. Make sure that you point to the slides as you talk. This will help guide the audience's attention to the correct part of the slide, and can keep them engaged with what you are explaining.

Make sure your visual materials are easy to read. Use dark lettering on a pale background for maximum visibility; pale lettering on a dark background can be difficult to read. Choose a standard clear font, like Arial or Times New Roman, and make sure that the size is large enough to be seen from the back of the room. Lay out the slides so that the elements are properly spaced. It is better to split a slide into two or three separate slides instead of overfilling one slide. Although your time is limited, your number of slides is not!

Remember that you are not writing a manuscript, so you don't have to use complete sentences. On your slides, verbs (especially "be" verbs) can be omitted. An example is shown in the figure.

Tip 4: Talk in "spoken English" style, not in "written English" style

The style of spoken English is quite different from that of written English. If you are preparing your script from text in a research paper, you will need to change the style of the written phrases into that of spoken phrases.

The written English we read in research papers often has a very formal style, using complex vocabulary and grammatical structures. This level of complexity is possible because readers can take their time reading papers to understand the content fully and can look up unfamiliar words or grammatical phrases as needed. This is not possible when listening to spoken English, when the audience hears your point once and fleetingly (this is why brief text and images on your slides can help convey your message fully).

presentation article

You can learn about the characteristics of written English versus those of spoken language in a free e-learning module and quiz we have prepared.

Also, check back for a later edition of our newsletter to find out how best to deliver your spoken presentation.

Tip 5: Practice your presentation and practice again!

Public speaking is the part of presentations that most people dread. Although it might not be possible to get over your nerves completely, good preparation and practice will give you confidence. Most confident speakers do lots of preparation and use notes well.

After you've written your script, practice and learn is—not so that you learn to say it by rote, but so that it will become easier to remember the important points to say, the links between the points (to maintain the flow of your 'story'), and the words and phrases that express your points clearly.

One way that we at ThinkSCIENCE can help you with this is through our audio recording service, in which a native speaker records your script at your chosen speed (native speed, slightly slower, or considerably slower). You can then use the recording to practice pronunciation, intonation, and pacing.

Again, if possible, try to avoid reading directly from your slides or script. Once you know your script, you can make a simple set of notes to jog your memory. If you are speaking instead of just reading, you can better engage with your audience and capture their attention.

Leave yourself adequate time to practice your presentation with your notes and slides. Check your timing, remembering that you might speak a little faster if you are nervous, and that you will need to account for changing slides and pointing at visual material.

As you rehearse, you will probably notice some words that are awkward to say, particularly if English is not your first language. Check pronunciation with a reliable source, such as , an online dictionary, or a native speaker, and then practice to avoid stumbling and putting yourself off during the presentation.

Practice can help you feel more comfortable with your material and more confident to present it to others.

Concluding remarks

Remember the importance of knowing your audience, giving yourself time to prepare thoroughly, and structuring your talk appropriately. And, don't panic!

At ThinkSCIENCE, we have years of experience helping people prepare effective research and conference presentations. From comprehensive editing and translation of your slides and scripts to our audio recording service, we can help you get ready for your presentation. We also offer one-on-one private presentation coaching sessions to help you make the most of your opportunities to present, and provide semester courses to young researchers.

I hope these tips will help you to prepare your English presentations with confidence.

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Open Access

Ten simple rules for effective presentation slides

* E-mail: [email protected]

Affiliation Biomedical Engineering and the Center for Public Health Genomics, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, United States of America

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Published: December 2, 2021

Fig 1

Citation: Naegle KM (2021) Ten simple rules for effective presentation slides. PLoS Comput Biol 17(12): e1009554.

Copyright: © 2021 Kristen M. Naegle. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License , which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Funding: The author received no specific funding for this work.

Competing interests: The author has declared no competing interests exist.


The “presentation slide” is the building block of all academic presentations, whether they are journal clubs, thesis committee meetings, short conference talks, or hour-long seminars. A slide is a single page projected on a screen, usually built on the premise of a title, body, and figures or tables and includes both what is shown and what is spoken about that slide. Multiple slides are strung together to tell the larger story of the presentation. While there have been excellent 10 simple rules on giving entire presentations [ 1 , 2 ], there was an absence in the fine details of how to design a slide for optimal effect—such as the design elements that allow slides to convey meaningful information, to keep the audience engaged and informed, and to deliver the information intended and in the time frame allowed. As all research presentations seek to teach, effective slide design borrows from the same principles as effective teaching, including the consideration of cognitive processing your audience is relying on to organize, process, and retain information. This is written for anyone who needs to prepare slides from any length scale and for most purposes of conveying research to broad audiences. The rules are broken into 3 primary areas. Rules 1 to 5 are about optimizing the scope of each slide. Rules 6 to 8 are about principles around designing elements of the slide. Rules 9 to 10 are about preparing for your presentation, with the slides as the central focus of that preparation.

Rule 1: Include only one idea per slide

Each slide should have one central objective to deliver—the main idea or question [ 3 – 5 ]. Often, this means breaking complex ideas down into manageable pieces (see Fig 1 , where “background” information has been split into 2 key concepts). In another example, if you are presenting a complex computational approach in a large flow diagram, introduce it in smaller units, building it up until you finish with the entire diagram. The progressive buildup of complex information means that audiences are prepared to understand the whole picture, once you have dedicated time to each of the parts. You can accomplish the buildup of components in several ways—for example, using presentation software to cover/uncover information. Personally, I choose to create separate slides for each piece of information content I introduce—where the final slide has the entire diagram, and I use cropping or a cover on duplicated slides that come before to hide what I’m not yet ready to include. I use this method in order to ensure that each slide in my deck truly presents one specific idea (the new content) and the amount of the new information on that slide can be described in 1 minute (Rule 2), but it comes with the trade-off—a change to the format of one of the slides in the series often means changes to all slides.


Top left: A background slide that describes the background material on a project from my lab. The slide was created using a PowerPoint Design Template, which had to be modified to increase default text sizes for this figure (i.e., the default text sizes are even worse than shown here). Bottom row: The 2 new slides that break up the content into 2 explicit ideas about the background, using a central graphic. In the first slide, the graphic is an explicit example of the SH2 domain of PI3-kinase interacting with a phosphorylation site (Y754) on the PDGFR to describe the important details of what an SH2 domain and phosphotyrosine ligand are and how they interact. I use that same graphic in the second slide to generalize all binding events and include redundant text to drive home the central message (a lot of possible interactions might occur in the human proteome, more than we can currently measure). Top right highlights which rules were used to move from the original slide to the new slide. Specific changes as highlighted by Rule 7 include increasing contrast by changing the background color, increasing font size, changing to sans serif fonts, and removing all capital text and underlining (using bold to draw attention). PDGFR, platelet-derived growth factor receptor.

Rule 2: Spend only 1 minute per slide

When you present your slide in the talk, it should take 1 minute or less to discuss. This rule is really helpful for planning purposes—a 20-minute presentation should have somewhere around 20 slides. Also, frequently giving your audience new information to feast on helps keep them engaged. During practice, if you find yourself spending more than a minute on a slide, there’s too much for that one slide—it’s time to break up the content into multiple slides or even remove information that is not wholly central to the story you are trying to tell. Reduce, reduce, reduce, until you get to a single message, clearly described, which takes less than 1 minute to present.

Rule 3: Make use of your heading

When each slide conveys only one message, use the heading of that slide to write exactly the message you are trying to deliver. Instead of titling the slide “Results,” try “CTNND1 is central to metastasis” or “False-positive rates are highly sample specific.” Use this landmark signpost to ensure that all the content on that slide is related exactly to the heading and only the heading. Think of the slide heading as the introductory or concluding sentence of a paragraph and the slide content the rest of the paragraph that supports the main point of the paragraph. An audience member should be able to follow along with you in the “paragraph” and come to the same conclusion sentence as your header at the end of the slide.

Rule 4: Include only essential points

While you are speaking, audience members’ eyes and minds will be wandering over your slide. If you have a comment, detail, or figure on a slide, have a plan to explicitly identify and talk about it. If you don’t think it’s important enough to spend time on, then don’t have it on your slide. This is especially important when faculty are present. I often tell students that thesis committee members are like cats: If you put a shiny bauble in front of them, they’ll go after it. Be sure to only put the shiny baubles on slides that you want them to focus on. Putting together a thesis meeting for only faculty is really an exercise in herding cats (if you have cats, you know this is no easy feat). Clear and concise slide design will go a long way in helping you corral those easily distracted faculty members.

Rule 5: Give credit, where credit is due

An exception to Rule 4 is to include proper citations or references to work on your slide. When adding citations, names of other researchers, or other types of credit, use a consistent style and method for adding this information to your slides. Your audience will then be able to easily partition this information from the other content. A common mistake people make is to think “I’ll add that reference later,” but I highly recommend you put the proper reference on the slide at the time you make it, before you forget where it came from. Finally, in certain kinds of presentations, credits can make it clear who did the work. For the faculty members heading labs, it is an effective way to connect your audience with the personnel in the lab who did the work, which is a great career booster for that person. For graduate students, it is an effective way to delineate your contribution to the work, especially in meetings where the goal is to establish your credentials for meeting the rigors of a PhD checkpoint.

Rule 6: Use graphics effectively

As a rule, you should almost never have slides that only contain text. Build your slides around good visualizations. It is a visual presentation after all, and as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. However, on the flip side, don’t muddy the point of the slide by putting too many complex graphics on a single slide. A multipanel figure that you might include in a manuscript should often be broken into 1 panel per slide (see Rule 1 ). One way to ensure that you use the graphics effectively is to make a point to introduce the figure and its elements to the audience verbally, especially for data figures. For example, you might say the following: “This graph here shows the measured false-positive rate for an experiment and each point is a replicate of the experiment, the graph demonstrates …” If you have put too much on one slide to present in 1 minute (see Rule 2 ), then the complexity or number of the visualizations is too much for just one slide.

Rule 7: Design to avoid cognitive overload

The type of slide elements, the number of them, and how you present them all impact the ability for the audience to intake, organize, and remember the content. For example, a frequent mistake in slide design is to include full sentences, but reading and verbal processing use the same cognitive channels—therefore, an audience member can either read the slide, listen to you, or do some part of both (each poorly), as a result of cognitive overload [ 4 ]. The visual channel is separate, allowing images/videos to be processed with auditory information without cognitive overload [ 6 ] (Rule 6). As presentations are an exercise in listening, and not reading, do what you can to optimize the ability of the audience to listen. Use words sparingly as “guide posts” to you and the audience about major points of the slide. In fact, you can add short text fragments, redundant with the verbal component of the presentation, which has been shown to improve retention [ 7 ] (see Fig 1 for an example of redundant text that avoids cognitive overload). Be careful in the selection of a slide template to minimize accidentally adding elements that the audience must process, but are unimportant. David JP Phillips argues (and effectively demonstrates in his TEDx talk [ 5 ]) that the human brain can easily interpret 6 elements and more than that requires a 500% increase in human cognition load—so keep the total number of elements on the slide to 6 or less. Finally, in addition to the use of short text, white space, and the effective use of graphics/images, you can improve ease of cognitive processing further by considering color choices and font type and size. Here are a few suggestions for improving the experience for your audience, highlighting the importance of these elements for some specific groups:

Rule 8: Design the slide so that a distracted person gets the main takeaway

It is very difficult to stay focused on a presentation, especially if it is long or if it is part of a longer series of talks at a conference. Audience members may get distracted by an important email, or they may start dreaming of lunch. So, it’s important to look at your slide and ask “If they heard nothing I said, will they understand the key concept of this slide?” The other rules are set up to help with this, including clarity of the single point of the slide (Rule 1), titling it with a major conclusion (Rule 3), and the use of figures (Rule 6) and short text redundant to your verbal description (Rule 7). However, with each slide, step back and ask whether its main conclusion is conveyed, even if someone didn’t hear your accompanying dialog. Importantly, ask if the information on the slide is at the right level of abstraction. For example, do you have too many details about the experiment, which hides the conclusion of the experiment (i.e., breaking Rule 1)? If you are worried about not having enough details, keep a slide at the end of your slide deck (after your conclusions and acknowledgments) with the more detailed information that you can refer to during a question and answer period.

Rule 9: Iteratively improve slide design through practice

Well-designed slides that follow the first 8 rules are intended to help you deliver the message you intend and in the amount of time you intend to deliver it in. The best way to ensure that you nailed slide design for your presentation is to practice, typically a lot. The most important aspects of practicing a new presentation, with an eye toward slide design, are the following 2 key points: (1) practice to ensure that you hit, each time through, the most important points (for example, the text guide posts you left yourself and the title of the slide); and (2) practice to ensure that as you conclude the end of one slide, it leads directly to the next slide. Slide transitions, what you say as you end one slide and begin the next, are important to keeping the flow of the “story.” Practice is when I discover that the order of my presentation is poor or that I left myself too few guideposts to remember what was coming next. Additionally, during practice, the most frequent things I have to improve relate to Rule 2 (the slide takes too long to present, usually because I broke Rule 1, and I’m delivering too much information for one slide), Rule 4 (I have a nonessential detail on the slide), and Rule 5 (I forgot to give a key reference). The very best type of practice is in front of an audience (for example, your lab or peers), where, with fresh perspectives, they can help you identify places for improving slide content, design, and connections across the entirety of your talk.

Rule 10: Design to mitigate the impact of technical disasters

The real presentation almost never goes as we planned in our heads or during our practice. Maybe the speaker before you went over time and now you need to adjust. Maybe the computer the organizer is having you use won’t show your video. Maybe your internet is poor on the day you are giving a virtual presentation at a conference. Technical problems are routinely part of the practice of sharing your work through presentations. Hence, you can design your slides to limit the impact certain kinds of technical disasters create and also prepare alternate approaches. Here are just a few examples of the preparation you can do that will take you a long way toward avoiding a complete fiasco:


These rules are just a start in creating more engaging presentations that increase audience retention of your material. However, there are wonderful resources on continuing on the journey of becoming an amazing public speaker, which includes understanding the psychology and neuroscience behind human perception and learning. For example, as highlighted in Rule 7, David JP Phillips has a wonderful TEDx talk on the subject [ 5 ], and “PowerPoint presentation flaws and failures: A psychological analysis,” by Kosslyn and colleagues is deeply detailed about a number of aspects of human cognition and presentation style [ 4 ]. There are many books on the topic, including the popular “Presentation Zen” by Garr Reynolds [ 11 ]. Finally, although briefly touched on here, the visualization of data is an entire topic of its own that is worth perfecting for both written and oral presentations of work, with fantastic resources like Edward Tufte’s “The Visual Display of Quantitative Information” [ 12 ] or the article “Visualization of Biomedical Data” by O’Donoghue and colleagues [ 13 ].


I would like to thank the countless presenters, colleagues, students, and mentors from which I have learned a great deal from on effective presentations. Also, a thank you to the wonderful resources published by organizations on how to increase inclusivity. A special thanks to Dr. Jason Papin and Dr. Michael Guertin on early feedback of this editorial.

Preparing and delivering a presentation

Many of us find standing up in front of an audience and presenting our thoughts and ideas embarrassing and stressful. Being able to address a large group is a valuable employability skill.

It is a strange fact about most of us that although we hate being ignored and unrecognised, for the most part we don't like drawing attention to ourselves either. Preparing to stand up in front of a group of strangers, or even friends and colleagues, so as to explain ourselves, or our ideas, or perhaps defend a point of view, can cause us many sleepless nights as we anticipate the worst possible scenario - usually one that ends with the audience pointing at us and laughing. We convince ourselves that we will sound foolish, or that we will not sound intelligent enough, or that we will have a big piece of spinach stuck in our teeth, or that our hair will mysteriously turn against us, or that our legs will give way or, worst of all, that we will freeze up.  

In practice, these things rarely happen and almost all audiences are supportive and encouraging, even if they are rigorous and professional. As with most activities preparation is the key to a successful presentation. If anything is likely to get you laughed at it would be turning up to a presentation and trying to wing it. We have all seen the amusing X-Factor performers whose act goes viral on YouTube for being delusional and ill prepared. Whether you are singing, dancing, telling a joke, presenting a pitch to a client, or a report to your team colleagues, careful planning will provide you with the confidence to feel that you 'own' your topic and this confidence will help you to deliver a calm and effective presentation.

Checklist Guide

There are a whole host of text books, online resources and courses designed to help you improve your presentation skills and if presenting in public on a regular basis is likely to be part of your future career, then you really ought to check some of these out. However, for right now let us just focus on a few useful tips to help you better prepare for a short presentation, perhaps for one of your courses, or possibly even for a job interview.

As it is you who are on show during a presentation, there are a number of personal factors that need to be kept in mind as you prepare and present.

Final Comments

One of the most important things to remember when presenting to an audience is that nobody expects a perfect performance. If you lose your train of thought, or stumble over your words just stop, take a breath and carry on, nobody will judge you, if they notice at all. If you are presenting to an academic, or professional audience then the chances are everyone has been, or will be standing where you are and will be sympathetic and supportive.

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20 Ways to Improve Your Presentation Skills

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How to tell a compelling story in scientific presentations

Bruce Kirchoff is a botanist and storyteller at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in North Carolina, USA. His new book is Presenting Science Concisely .

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Adhesive notes arranged as a flow chart on a white board.

Structuring your presentations with care can help you to clearly communicate to your audience. Credit: Getty

Scientific presentations are too often boring and ineffective. Their focus on techniques and data do not make it easy for the audience to understand the main point of the research.

If you want to reach beyond the narrow group of scientists who work in your specific area, you need to tell your audience members why they should be interested. Three things can help you to be engaging and convey the importance of your research to a wide audience. I had been teaching scientific communication for several years when I was approached to write a book about improving scientific presentations 1 . These are my three most important tips.

State your main finding in your title

The best titles get straight to the point. They tell the audience what you found, and they let them know what your talk will be about. Throughout this article, I will use titles from Nature papers published in the past two years as examples that will stand in for presentation titles. This is because Nature articles have a similar goal of attempting to make discipline-specific research available to a broader audience of scientists. Take, for example: ‘Supply chain diversity buffers cities against food shocks’ 2 .

A great title tells the reader exactly what’s new and precisely conveys the main result, as this one demonstrates. A more conventional title would have been ‘Effect of supply chain diversity on food shocks’, which omits the direction of the effect — so mainly scientists who are interested in your research area will be attracted to the talk. Others will wonder whether the talk will be a waste of time: maybe there was no effect at all.

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Another example of a good title is: ‘Organic management promotes natural pest control through altered plant resistance to insects’ 3 .

This title ensures that the audience members know that the talk will be about the beneficial effects of organic crop management before they hear it. They also know that organic management increases plant resistance to insects. This title is much better than one such as: ‘Effects of organic pest management on plant insect resistance’. This title tells the audience the general area of the talk but does not give them the main result.

Finally, look at: ‘A highly magnetized and rapidly rotating white dwarf as small as the Moon’ 4 .

Good titles can just as easily be written for descriptive work as for experimental results. All you need to do is tell your audience what you found. Be as specific as possible. Compare this title with a more conventional one for the same work: ‘Use of the Zwicky Transient Facility to search for short period objects below the main white dwarf cooling sequence’. This title might be of interest to astronomers interested in using this facility, but is unlikely to attract anyone beyond them.

‘But’ is good — use it for dramatic effect

The contradiction implied by the word ‘but’ is one of the most powerful tools a scientist can use 5 . Contradictions introduce problems and provide dramatic effect, tension and a reason to keep listening.

Without such contradictions, the talk will consist of a bunch of results strung together in a seemingly endless and mind-numbing list. We can think of this list as a series of ‘and’ statements: “We did this and this and ran this experiment and found this result and . . . and . . . and.”

Contrast this with a structure that begins with a few important facts, tethered by ands, and then introduces the problem to be solved. Finally, ‘therefore’ can introduce results or subsequent actions. That structure would look like this: ‘X is the current state of knowledge, and we know Y. But Z problem remains. Therefore, we carried out ABC research.’ The introduction of even one contradiction wakes up people in the audience and helps them to focus on the results.

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A paper published earlier this year on SARS-CoV-2 and host protein synthesis provides an excellent example of the narrative form using ‘and’, ‘but’ and ‘therefore’ 6 . In the example below, I have shortened the abstract and simplified the transitions, but maintained the authors’ original structure 6 . Although they did not use ‘but’ or ‘therefore’ in their abstract, the existence of these terms is clearly implied. I have made them explicit in the following rendition.

“Coronaviruses have developed a variety of mechanisms to repress host messenger RNA translation and to allow the translation of viral mRNA and block the cellular immune response. But a comprehensive picture of the effects of SARS-CoV-2 infection on cellular gene expression is lacking. Therefore, we combine RNA sequencing, ribosome profiling and metabolic labelling of newly synthesized RNA to comprehensively define the mechanisms that are used by SARS-CoV-2 to shut off cellular protein synthesis.”

In this example, background information is given in the first sentence, linked by a series of conjunctions. Then the problem is introduced — this is the contradiction that comes with ‘but’. The solution to this problem is given in the next sentence (and introduced by using ‘therefore’). This structure makes the text interesting. It will do the same for your presentations.

Use repeated problems and solutions to create a story

Use the power of contradiction to maintain audience engagement throughout your talk. You can string together a series of problems and solutions (buts and therefores) to create a story that leads to your main result. The result highlighted in your title will help you to focus your talk so that the solutions you present lead to this overarching result.

Here is the general pattern:

1. Present the first part of your results.

2. Introduce a problem that remains.

3. Provide a solution to this problem by presenting more results.

4. Introduce the next problem.

5. Present the results that address this problem.

6. Continue this ‘problem and solution’ process through your presentation.

7. End by restating your main finding and summarize how it arises from your intermediate results.

The SARS-CoV-2 abstract 6 uses this pattern of repeated problems (buts) and solutions (therefores). I have modified the wording to clarify these sections.

1. Result 1: SARS-CoV-2 infection leads to a global reduction in translation, but we found that viral transcripts are not preferentially translated.

2. Problem 1: How then does viral mRNA comes to dominate the mRNA pool?

3. Solution 1: Accelerated degradation of cytosolic cellular mRNAs facilitates viral takeover of the mRNA pool in infected cells.

4. Problem 2: How is the translation of induced transcripts affected by SARS-CoV-2 infection?

5. Solution 2: The translation of induced transcripts (including innate immune genes) is impaired.

6. Problem 3: How is translation impaired? What is the mechanism?

7. Solution 3: Impairment is probably mediated by inhibiting the export of nuclear mRNA from the nucleus, which prevents newly transcribed cellular mRNA from accessing ribosomes.

8. Final summary: Our results demonstrate a multipronged strategy used by SARS-CoV-2 to take over the translation machinery and suppress host defences.

Using these three basic tips, you can create engaging presentations that will hold the attention of your audience and help them to remember you. For young scientists, especially, that is the most important thing the audience can take away from your talk.

Nature 600 , S88-S89 (2021)


This article is part of Nature Events Guide , an editorially independent supplement. Advertisers have no influence over the content.

This is an article from the Nature Careers Community, a place for Nature readers to share their professional experiences and advice. Guest posts are encouraged .

Kirchoff, B. Presenting Science Concisely (CABI, 2021).

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Gomez, M., Mejia, A., Ruddell, B. L. & Rushforth, R. R. Nature 595 , 250–254 (2021).

Article   Google Scholar  

Blundell, R. et al. Nature Plants 6 , 483–491 (2020).

Article   PubMed   Google Scholar  

Caiazzo, I. et al. Nature 595 , 39–42 (2021).

Olson, R. The Narrative Gym (Prairie Starfish Press, 2020).

Finkel, Y. et al. Nature 594 , 240–245 (2021).

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Competing Interests

B.K. receives royalties for his book, which this article is based on.

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You can record your PowerPoint presentation—or a single slide—and capture voice, ink gestures, and your video presence. When completed, it’s like any other presentation. You can play it for your audience in a Slide Show or you can save the presentation as a video file. So, instead of just “handing the deck” to someone, people can see your presentation with the passion and personality intact.  

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All recording tools are in the  Record  tab in the ribbon, but you can start by selecting the  Record  button. 

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You can also record by selecting one of the options in the Record section of the Record tab.

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If you have notes in your presentation, they’re turned into text at the top of the screen so you can use them like a teleprompter as you record.  

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There are several options you can use when you record a presentation. You can turn your camera and microphone on or off by selecting the icons at the top. There are several options you can use when you record a presentation. You can turn your camera and microphone on or off by selecting the icons at the top. To change your camera or microphone, choose the  Select more options  <···> icon. You can even add a customizable camera that can be resized, repositioned, and formatted to go with your slide content. Select Edit , then select Cameo . Adjust the formatting for the camera, then select Record again to return  to the recording environment. 

In the  Select the camera mode  menu, you can select Show Background  or  Blur Background .

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You can also change the layout in the  Views menu to switch between  Teleprompter ,  Presenter View , or  Slide View .

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Use the onscreen laser, colored pens, or highlighters in the tray below markup slides and it’ll record as well.

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Note:  Narration won’t record during slide transitions so let those play first before you start speaking. 

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Turn on the Recording tab of the ribbon: On the File tab of the ribbon, click  Options . In the Options  dialog box, click the Customize Ribbon  tab on the left. Then, in the right-hand box that lists the available ribbon tabs, select the Recording  check box. Click OK .

The Customize Ribbon tab of the PowerPoint 2016 Options dialog box has an option to add the Recording tab to the PowerPoint ribbon.

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The Record Slide Show commands on the Recording Tab in PowerPoint.

(The Clear  command deletes narrations or timings, so be careful when you use it. Clear  is grayed out unless you have previously recorded some slides.)

The slide show opens in the Recording window (which looks similar to Presenter view), with buttons at the top left for starting, pausing, and stopping the recording. Click the round, red button (or press R on your keyboard) when you are ready to start the recording. A three-second countdown ensues, then the recording begins.

The Presentation Recording window in PowerPoint 2016, with video narration window preview turned on.

The current slide is shown in the main pane of the Recording window.

You can stop the recording any time by pressing Alt + S on your keyboard.

Navigation arrows on either side of the current slide allow you to move to the previous and next slides.

PowerPoint for Microsoft 365 automatically records the time you spend on each slide, including any Animate text or objects  steps that occur, and the use of any triggers on each slide.

You can record audio or video narration as you run through your presentation. The buttons at the lower-right corner of the window allow you to toggle on or off the microphone, camera, and camera preview:

On/off buttons for the microphone, camera, and camera previewing window

If you use the pen, highlighter, or eraser, PowerPoint records those actions for playback also.

Inking tools in the Recording window

If you re-record your narration (including audio and ink), PowerPoint erases your previously recorded narration (including audio and ink) before you start recording again on the same slide.

You can also re-record by going to Slide Show  >  Record .

You can pick a pointer tool (pen, eraser, or highlighter) from the array of tools just below the current slide. There are also color selection boxes for changing the color of the ink. ( Eraser  is grayed out unless you have previously added ink to some slides.)

To end your recording, select the square Stop button (or press S on your keyboard).

When you finish recording your narration, a small picture appears in the lower-right corner of the recorded slides. The picture is an audio icon, or, if the web camera was on during the recording, a still image from the webcam.

Sound icon

The recorded slide show timing is automatically saved. (In Slide Sorter view, the timings are listed beneath each slide.)

In this process, what you record is embedded in each slide, and the recording can be played back in Slide Show. A video file is not created by this recording process. However, if you need one, you can save your presentation as a video with a few extra steps.

Preview the recorded slide show

On the Slide Show  tab, click From Beginning  or From Current Slide .

During playback, your animations, inking actions, audio and video will play in sync.

Shows the "from beginning" button on the slide show tab in PowerPoint

Preview the recorded sound

In the Recording window, the triangular Play  button near the top left corner lets you preview the recording of the slide that currently has the focus in that window.

Start, Stop, and Play buttons in the Recording window

In Normal view, click the sound icon or picture in the lower-right corner of the slide, and then click Play . (When you preview individual audio in this way, you won't see recorded animation or inking.)

Click Play

You can pause playback while previewing the audio.

Set the slide timings manually

PowerPoint for Microsoft 365 automatically records your slide timings when you add narrations, or you can manually set the slide timings to accompany your narrations.

In Normal view, click the slide that you want to set the timing for.

On the Transitions tab, in the Timing group, under Advance Slide , select the After check box, and then enter the number of seconds that you want the slide to appear on the screen. Repeat the process for each slide that you want to set the timing for.

If you want the next slide to appear either when you click the mouse or automatically after the number of seconds that you enter—whichever comes first—select both the On Mouse Click and the After check boxes.

You can use manual slide timings to the trim the end of a recorded slide segment. For example, if the end of a slide segment concludes with two seconds of unnecessary audio, simply set the timing for advancing to the next slide so that it happens before the unnecessary audio. That way you don't have to re-record the audio for that slide.

Delete timings or narration

The Clear command is for deleting timings or narration from your recording that you don't want or that you want to replace.

In the Recording window, the Clear command in the top margin of the window allows you to:

Clear recordings on the current slide

Clear recordings on all slides

In Normal view, there are four different Clear commands that allow you to:

Delete the timings on the currently selected slide

Delete the timings on all slides at once

Delete the narration on the currently selected slide

Delete the narration on all slides at once

If you do not want to delete all the timings or narration in your presentation, open a specific slide that has a timing or narration that you do want to delete.

On the Recording tab of the PowerPoint for Microsoft 365 ribbon, on the Record Slide Show button, click the down arrow, point to Clear , and then choose the appropriate Clear command for your situation.

The Clear commands on the Record Slide Show menu button in PowerPoint.

Turn off timings or turn off narrations, and ink

After you've recorded your PowerPoint for Microsoft 365 presentation, any timings, gestures, and audio you performed are saved on the individual slides. But you can turn them all off if you want to view the slide show without them:

To turn off recorded slide timings: On the Slide Show tab, clear the Use Timings box.

To turn off recorded narrations and ink: On the Slide Show tab, clear the Play Narrations box.

Publish the recording to share it with others

Once you've edited the recording to your satisfaction, you can make it available to others by publishing to Microsoft Stream.

With the presentation open, on the Recording tab, select Publish to Stream .

Type a title and a description for the video.

Set other options, including whether you want others in your organization to have permission to see the video.

Select the Publish button.

The upload process can take several minutes, depending on the length of the video. A status bar at the bottom of the PowerPoint window tracks the progress, and PowerPoint shows a message when the upload is finished:

PowerPoint notifies you when the upload is finished

Click the message to go directly to the video playback page on Microsoft Stream.

Create closed captions

To make your video more accessible by including closed captions, choose from these options, which are described in separate Help articles:

Manually write a closed caption file yourself

Get a closed-caption file automatically generated by Microsoft Stream

Once you have a closed-caption file, you can add it to your video file by using PowerPoint .

Record a slide show

With your presentation open, on the Slide Show tab, click Record Slide Show .

(The Clear command deletes narrations or timings, so be careful when you use it. Clear is grayed out unless you have previously recorded some slides.)

In the Record Slide Show box, check or clear the boxes for your recording, and click Start Recording .

Shows record slideshow dialog in PowerPoint

More about these options:

Slide and animation timings : PowerPoint automatically records the time you spend on each slide, including any animation steps that occur, and the use of any triggers on each slide.

Narrations, ink, and laser pointer: Record your voice as you run through your presentation. If you use the pen, highlighter, eraser, or laser pointer, PowerPoint records those for playback as well.

Important:    Pen, highlighter, and eraser recording are available only if you have the February 16, 2015 update for PowerPoint 2013 or a later version of PowerPoint installed. In earlier versions of PowerPoint, pen and highlighter strokes are saved as ink annotation shapes.

At the top left corner of the window is the Recording toolbar, which you can use to:

Go to the next slide

If you re-record your narration (including audio, ink, and laser pointer), PowerPoint erases your previously recorded narration (including audio, ink, and laser pointer) when you start recording again on the same slide.

You can also re-record by going to Slide Show > Record Slide Show .

To use ink, eraser, or the laser pointer in your recording, right-click the slide, click Pointer options , and pick your tool:

Laser Pointer


Eraser (This option is grayed out unless you have previously added ink to some slides.)

To change the color of the ink, click Ink Color .

To end your recording, right-click the final slide, and click End Show .

Tip:  When you finish recording your narration, a sound icon appears in the lower-right corner of each slide that has narration.

The recorded slide show timings are automatically saved. Timings are shown in Slide Sorter view just beneath each slide.

In this process, what you record is embedded in each slide, and the recording can be played back in Slide Show. A video file is not created by this recording process. However, if you want a video file, you can save your presentation as a video with a few extra steps.

On the Slide Show tab, click From Beginning or From Current Slide.

During playback, your animations, inking actions, laser pointer, audio and video play in sync.

Preview the recorded audio

In Normal view, click the sound icon in the lower-right corner of the slide, and then click Play.

PowerPoint automatically records your slide timings when you add narrations, or you can manually set the slide timings to accompany your narrations.

On the Transitions tab, in the Timing group, under Advance Slide , select the After check box, and then enter the number of seconds indicating how long the slide should appear on the screen. Repeat the process for each slide that you want to set the timing for.

Tip:  If you want the next slide to appear either when you click the mouse or automatically after the number of seconds that you enter—whichever comes first—select both the On Mouse Click and the After check boxes.

The Clear command is for deleting timings or narration from your recording that you don't want or that you want to replace. There are four different Clear commands that allow you to:

On the Slide Show tab of the PowerPoint ribbon, on the Record Slide Show button, click the down arrow, point to Clear, and then choose the appropriate Clear command for your situation.

Turn off timings or turn off narrations, ink, and laser pointer

After you've recorded your PowerPoint presentation, any timings, gestures, and audio you performed are saved on the individual slides. But you can turn them all off if you want to view the slide show without them:

To turn off recorded narrations, ink, and the laser pointer: On the Slide Show tab, clear the Play Narrations box.

Turn your mouse into a laser pointer

Animate text or objects

Turn your presentation into a video

Create a self-running presentation

Record your slide show

On the  Slide Show  tab, select  Record Slide Show  to start recording from your current slide.

Screen shot of Slide Show tab and Record Slide Show button outlined

Toggle video and audio options in the options  dropdowns in the recording toolbar.

Image of audio and video options with dropdowns

Tip:  Customize your Record Slide Show experience by resizing the next slide and notes pane.

Image of stop button

Once you exit the Record Slide Show experience with the Esc key or by clicking  End show , you will see narration (audio/video) applied to your slide along with the proper slide timings and ink animations.

Tip:  Audio, video, and inking elements can all be resized and moved in edit view after recording.

Clear timings or narration 

On the  Slide Show  tab, under Record Slide Show , select Clear , and then select one of the following: Clear Timings on Current Slide , Clear Timings on All Slides , Clear Narration on Current Slide , or Clear Narrations on All Slides .

Clear Record Slide Show options

Keyboard shortcuts during the recording process

Related information.

Add, change, or remove transitions between slides

Record audio in PowerPoint for Mac

Add or delete audio in your presentation

Save a presentation as a movie file or MP4

Prepare to record

To begin, open the presentation you want and click the Slide Show tab.

Tip:     If your presentation has a lot of slides, you might find it more convenient to work in Slide Sorter view. Click View > Slide Sorter to try it out.

Here are some things to check before you begin recording:

If you want to record only part of your slide deck, do one of the following before you begin:

Select the slides you don't want to include, and click Hide Slide .

Click Custom Show > Custom Slide Show > + (add).

Select Hide Slide or Custom Show to record a subset of slides

Use the Rehearse button to change the timing between slides without affecting the narration or gestures you've already recorded.

Try out different timing between slides with the Rehearse button

Make sure your microphone is set up correctly. On the Mac, go to System Preferences > Sound .

If you want to add narration or commentary to the slide show, make sure your microphone is set up and working.

To start recording:

Click the Slide Show tab, select the slide where you want the recording to begin, and then click Record Slide Show .

Click Record Slide Show to start recording

During recording, use Ctrl+click to access the recording commands that let you navigate through the slides, change cursors, or trigger screen blackouts or whiteouts.

Control-click to see a list commands while you're recording

Click End Show to stop recording.

A Save dialog box appears. Click Yes to save your recording, or No if you want to record it again.

Saving overwrites anything you've previously recorded. If you want to record another slide show with the same set of slides, save your presentation file with a different name.

Click Play from Start to preview your recording.

You may want to print this list of keyboard shortcuts to refer to while you're recording:

Set playback options

When you've finished recording and are ready to distribute the presentation, click Set up Slide Show and choose the options that are right for your audience.

Set the show type and other options before you distribute the show

Show type     Show full screen or windowed.

Show options     Turn off narration or animations.

Slides     Choose a subset of slides, or a Custom show if you've set one up.

Advance slides     Set up this version of the slide show so someone can page through it manually.

Start the presentation and see your notes in Presenter view

We're sorry. PowerPoint for the web doesn't support recording a slide show.


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