Participation Guidelines

Presenting a Paper

Paper presentations are limited to 20 minutes, including the time for questions (unless otherwise arranged).


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  • The structure should include: an introduction, body, and a conclusion.
  • The introduction is a brief summary of the key points you want to get across.
  • The body of the talk needs to put the subject matter in context so that your audience can understand the significance of your particular results. If you use graphics, (charts, diagrams, power points) everything essential to their explanation should be in simple terms.
  • Summarize your key points again in the conclusion. If the results of your research are specific conclusion(s), state them and their level of significance.

Preparing for the Presentation

  • Write out the talk, or at least make a detailed outline to work from.
  • Use your script as a guide; don't read the talk. Be a storyteller, not a reader.
  • Practice the talk and revise it if it is too long. Don't try to talk faster to fit it into the allotted time.
  • Don't practice in your head. Practice the talk out loud to an audience of friends, classmates, or others. Use a recorder to capture the practice talk (then listen to it and time it!).

Presentation Day

  • The opening and closing remarks are the most important; don't improvise them.
  • Keep a positive attitude. Your audience is generally sympathetic and interested in what you have to say. If flustered, pause and start again at that point (not the beginning).
  • Make eye contact with a variety of people in the audience.
  • Avoid distracting gestures and verbal miscues, such as saying "umm," "you know," "like," or "cuz," fumbling with keys, or putting your hands in your pockets.
  • Don't mention anything that could have been in your talk, but wasn't.
  • If you are asked a question that you are unprepared to answer, it is acceptable to state "I don't know, but I can find out".

Videos of Past Presentations

  • The links below lead to videos of presentations given at the 2009 SRC. You may view these videos to gain a better understanding of how a presentation should be conducted. These presentations were part of the best paper competition which presenters have the choice to participate in. Each video is labeled using the presenter's last name.

Resources for Presenters

Writing and Presentations

  • Link to Miller Center Library resources
  • Aveyard, H. (2007). Doing a literature review in health and social care: a practical guide.  (Miller Center Basement RA440.85 .A949 2007)
  • Baake, K. (2003). Metaphor and knowledge: the challenges of writing science (Miller Center Basement T11.B23 2003)
  • Beer, D. (2005). A guide to writing as an engineer. (Miller Center Basement T11.B396 2005)
  • Brundage, A. (2008). Going to the sources: a guide to historical research and writing.  (Miller Center 2nd floor D16 .B893 2008)
  • Ebel, H. (2004). The art of scientific writing: from student reports to professional publications in chemistry and related fields. 2nd edition. (Miller Center Basement QD9.15.E23 2004)
  • Galvan, J. (2006). Writing literature reviews: a guide for students of the social and behavioral sciences.  (Miller Center Basement H61.8 .G34 2006)
  • Gilpin, A. (2000). A guide to writing in the sciences (Miller Center T11.G53 2000)
  • Gustavii, B.  (2008). How to write and illustrate scientific papers.  (Miller Center Basement T11 .G86 2008)
  • Miller. J. (2005). The Chicago guide to writing about multivariate analysis. (Miller Center Basement T11.M484 2005)
  • Hancock, E. (2003). Ideas into words: mastering the craft of science writing. (Miller Center Basement T11.H255 2003)
  • Knowles, G. (2008). Handbook of the arts in qualitative research: perspectives, methodologies, examples, and issues (Miller Center Basement H62 .K6275 2008)
  • Nicol, A. (2003). Displaying your findings: a practical guide for creating figures, posters, and presentations. (Miller Center 2nd floor BF76.8.N53 2003)
  • Paradis, J. (2002). The MIT guide to science and engineering communication. (Miller Center Electronic book)
  • Ridley, D. The literature review: a step-by-step guide for students.  (Miller Center Basement LB2369 .R525 2008)
  • Staines, G. (2008). Social sciences research: research, writing, and presentation strategies for students. (Miller Center Basement H62 .S736 2008)
  • Wolcott, H. (2001). Writing up qualitative research. (Miller Center T11.W65 2001)
  • Writing Guidelines for Engineering and Science Students from Virginia Tech
  • Writer's Handbook from the University of Wisconsin, Madison


  • The basics of how to plan, write, and give a winning presentation [DVD] (2006). (Miller Center Circulation Desk DVD PN4193.B8 B37 2006x)
  • Bienvenu, S. (2000). The presentation skills workshop helping people create and deliver great presentations (Miller Center Electronic Book)
  • Booher, D. (2003). Speak with confidence powerful presentations that inform, inspire, and persuade (Miller Center Electronic Book)
  • Burrows, T. (2000). Creating presentations. (Miller Center Basement QA76.575.B87 2000)
  • Campbell, M. (2003). Bulletproof presentations no one will every shoot holes in your ideas again! (Miller Center Electronic Book)
  • Reinhart, S. (2002). Giving academic presentations. (Miller Center Basement HF5718.R45 2002x)
  • Small, R. (2002). Make a PACT for success: designing effective information presentations. (Miller Center Basement PN4129.15.S63 2002)
  • Preparing an Oral Presentation Tutorial and Designing Effective Visuals from University of Kansas




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