ES375 Presentations Guidelines



Presentation Tips, Reminders, and Guidelines

All environmentally related professions rely on effective oral presentation skills to communicate findings and suggest environmental interventions. Effective presentations require extensive time for development and practice.



Ø      Your presentation should be 8-10 minutes, using a relaxed speaking pace. Due to time constraints, you may, under no circumstances, use more than 10 minutes for your presentation. The capstone instructors will have to simply terminate your presentation if you exceed the 10-minute time allotment.


Ø      Following each presentation, there will be approximately 3 to 5 minutes for questions. While answering questions, be sure to maintain eye contact with your audience, speak clearly and with the appropriate volume, and relax.  If the audience has questions, then they were paying attention and are interested in your topic.



An old adage in public speaking is that your goal is to “Tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, and tell them what you told them.” The audience of listeners needs cues to follow an argument and evaluate your evidence and information. (A text offers similar cues by using titles, indentation of paragraphs, punctuation, etc.)


Ø      Tell them what you are to tell them:  Always begin by introducing the title of your talk and fundamental question you are addressing. Then provide enough background information to provide a sound context for your question. That is, provide enough information to make it clear to audience the relevance of your question.


Ø      Tell them: Describe the methods for collecting data, analyzing the data, and presenting the results. Organize the data in easy to read figures and tables. 


Ø      Tell them what you told them: Summarize your results in a discussion and conclusion. You can make recommendations based on your results, including recommendations for further study or policy considerations.


Visual Aids

Visual aids are important for an oral presentation, but they can also be distracting and reduce your credibility with an audience.

Ø      Keep your slides simple and easy to read.

Ø      Use the 7-7 rule:  no more than 7 lines on your slide and no more than 7 words per line.

Ø      Use large font sizes (e.g., 24+)

Ø      Use visually pleasing colors with fairly subtle graphics.

Ø      Charts, graphs, and pictures can be worth a thousand words but be sure all legends, etc. are legible.

Ø      Use correct spelling, punctuation, etc.

Ø      We will present all the visual information using PowerPoint; we will put all the presentations on one PowerPoint file.

Ø      Avoid animation. This often distracts audiences and doesn’t provide more information.

Ø      Test your slides using an overhead projector rather than assuming what you see on your computer screen is how your slides will actually look.



Include references where appropriate. Cite a reference in the text and include a “References” slide at the end of your presentation. Avoid using URLs and hyperlinks in the text.


Presentation Style:

Ø      Dress in comfortable clothes but dress for a public presentation. We expect the audience to include community members and your dress should communicate that you are confident and professional.

Ø      Dress does not need to be formal (with ties, jackets, and dresses), but it should not be informal and sloppy and show disrespect for the audience.

Ø      Although nervousness is normal, you can alleviate most of the stress by knowing your material well, practicing in front of people, and practicing in front of a mirror.

Ø      Maintaining eye contact with your audience is essential to a good presentation.  Glancing at your notes or slides is acceptable, but reading from them is not.

Ø      Avoid “speaking” to or at the screen. The audience can’t hear your voice and they don’t listen to you.  Use a laser pointer to help you direct attention to an area of the slide.

Ø      Print out your PowerPoint slides and use those as notes.

Ø      Don’t be stiff.  Try to relax, use your natural posture, your natural hand gestures, and use your sense of humor.

Ø      Avoid jiggling, swaying, fidgeting, playing with your hair and other distracting behaviors.

Ø      Speak clearly and with the appropriate volume. If you are soft-spoken, then try speaking to the “back” of the room so that everyone hears you. 

Ø      Avoid overuse of “UM”.


Practice as a team

Ø      Before your first dry run, practice your team presentation. Presenting with other people takes more time to coordinate Use a time; 10 minutes is very little time, and talking really fast is not the solution!

Ø      Work out who will present information from each section.

Ø      We will have at least 2 dry run sessions to work as a group on presentation skills.