Presentation Guidelines for Students

Performances/Creative Displays

In addition to the traditional oral and poster research/scholarly presentations described below, we also encourage performing/visual arts presentations. This includes music, dance, theater, drawing, painting, photography, sculpture, video, etc. Students and mentors interested in these disciplines and media should contact the conference organizers directly at to discuss possible presentation formats.

General Guidelines for Presenting Research/Scholarship

Research or scholarship at SCCUR is presented either as a fifteen-minute oral presentation or as a poster. You may choose one or the other (not both) as your preferred medium when you submit your abstract. A few general principles apply to all presented research.

* Be organized. Know the clear and unifying point of your research, and be able to communicate it to an audience.
* Use the format of your academic discipline. Most research in the sciences and some social sciences is organized in the following components (or versions of them): Abstract, Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion, Conclusion, References, and Acknowledgements. In other disciplines these components may be less formal, but all research should have an introduction, address a question or problem, and discuss or analyze the results of its inquiry. Consult with your faculty mentor concerning the proper form for your presentation.
* Make your research as accessible as possible to a broad academic audience, without sacrificing its disciplinary rigor.
* Anticipate possible questions. Take notes on questions (and the names and addresses of the contacts you’ll make while discussing your work).
* Rehearse your presentation in advance.
* Credit all sources; be truthful; respect your audience.

Oral Presentations

Oral presentations are carefully prepared to be fifteen minutes long. They are presented as part of a panel of three or four presentations, usually addressing a common subject matter.

In the sciences and some social sciences, presentations are usually made from notes and are accompanied by visual materials such as tables, graphs, charts, and photographs (most often in PowerPoint, but sometimes as 35 mm. slides or overhead transparencies). In the humanities and some other social sciences, presentations are usually read aloud from a prepared text, sometimes with accompanying visual materials. Work with your faculty mentor to produce an oral presentation appropriate to your discipline.

Preparing and Presenting

* Rehearse your presentation in advance with friends or family. Make sure that it is no more than fifteen minutes long. Ask your audience what they have learned to see if you're getting your point across.
* Face your audience; speak slowly and clearly and project your voice to the back of the room. Whether you are working from notes (or slides) or reading from a text, make eye contact with your audience as frequently as you can.
* If you're speaking from notes, number them so that you won't lose your place, and remember the general outline of the points that you want to make and the order in which you'll make them. If you're reading, read slowly enough to understand what you're reading (at a rate of about two minutes per double-spaced page).
* If you are using visual aids (PowerPoint, transparencies for an overhead projector, etc.), prepare them well in advance and make sure they are clear.
* Keep words to a minimum on slides, transparencies and other visual aids; make sure they are readable from the back of the room. Words should be large enough to read from several feet away, but don’t use all caps. Avoid using light colors for words, such as yellow or orange. The size of the typeface should be at least 12 point.
* Number your visual aids so you always know the order in case they get dropped or misplaced.
* Watch your audience response; if they seem lost, slow down.

Equipment and Visual Aids

Cal Poly Pomona will provide computers, projectors, and screens for students making PowerPoint presentations. (PowerPoint is the only supported presentation software.) All computers are PCs. Participants should not bring their own computers.

Participating in a Panel

A faculty moderator will chair your panel. He or she will introduce you and other presenters to the audience, describe the session's topic, keep time, and facilitate brief discussion following each presentation. It is essential that panels keep on schedule; moderators will stop presenters if they appear likely to run over their allotted time.

Arrive before the beginning of your session and stay for the duration, sitting at the front of the room. Don't arrive late or leave following your own presentation; this is discourteous to other presenters.

Check all support materials in advance (PowerPoint presentations, handouts, transparencies, etc.) to avoid unnecessary delays in starting your presentation.

Have a backup plan in the event of equipment failure (for instance, we recommend that you bring transparencies or handouts to guard against computer malfunctions if you're using PowerPoint).

Listen to other panelists’ presentations and participate in discussions that follow.

Poster Presentations

If you are displaying a poster, you will be given the specific location of your poster at registration. Please put up your poster at least 10 minutes before your assigned session and leave it up throughout the session. You will need to be present next to your poster during your assigned session to explain and answer questions about your research.

Poster presentations should be no larger than 4' x 4'. Students using Cal Poly boards must provide their own thumbtacks: NO TAPE, VELCRO, GLUESTICKS, or other permanent fasteners should be used.

Space on a poster is limited, so pick wisely what to present. Your display should be self-explanatory and have a logical flow—others should be able to follow the order even if you are not present. Start with a rough draft of your design on paper, using graph paper or post-it notes to simulate sections.

Place your title at the top of the poster and make sure that the text is large (usually at least 2 inches in height) and clear. Include your name and major, and the name of your faculty mentor and his/her department name, the name of your school and the names of other co-authors. Incorporate appropriate graphics in your poster. Label or describe any charts, tables, figures, graphs, or photos that you use. Make sure all edges line up evenly. Edit, review, and spell check all the elements of your poster display. Be sure to firmly attach all materials to your poster board (spray adhesive, found in art supply stores, works best).

During the poster session, stand to the side of your display so that you don’t block it. Prepare and practice a five-minute summary speech about your project. This time is an excellent networking possibility so it is important to speak and interact professionally. You will also receive lots of feedback and exposure as well.

Poster Format and Style

Don’t use more than two fonts. Instead use bold, italic and font size to set type differently. Times New Roman, Arial, and Garamond are suggested typefaces.

Titles should be at least 2 inches high.

The body type for the main sections should be at least 18 point if possible.

Words should be large enough to read from several feet away, but don’t use all caps.

Stick to a color scheme (try a couple that complement or contrast with each other such as black or navy on white). Try mounting text and figures on colored paper, or using some colored font.

Be consistent with your white space between sections of text, figures and headings; white space should be ample so the poster doesn’t look crammed.