Political Science at Huntingdon College
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PSC 499Capstone Research Seminar

Presentations Advice

Page maintained by Dr. Jeremy Lewis.  Revised 14 April 2013.


Presentations last only 20 minutes (or ten minutes and about ten slides, for 300 level)
  • limit data slides to less than 20, (or one data slide per minute -- plus a few graphic images slides)
  • rehearse the presentation in under 20 mins with friends
  • avoid a slow introduction when you are nervious on the actual day -- it eats up time
  • practice answering the obvious questions
  • since you'll be excited, and know too much, the time will pass in a flash
  • Connect with your audience, who may be sleepy at the end of term
  • keep eye contact, even with the back row students
  • speak out and project so that the back row can hear you
  • emphasize the conclusions
  • vary your voice with light and shade
  • perhaps use a little humor, where appropriate
  • utilize open gestures, authoritative body language
  • use your ability to move (since we are not videotaping any more, you do not have to stay in a frame.)
  • a presentation of research and findings is different from a reading or lecture
  • The principles of audiovisuals with PowerPoint
  • Powerpoint is like reading with Bible through the wrong end of a telescope
  • limited resolution (800 x 600 dots) may show better to the back of a room
  • limit text per bullet (6-10 words) unless you have a reason
  • write in note form, not whole sentences, unless you have a reason
  • limited bullets (6-8) per slide
  • warm colors (yellow or orange are popular) for text and foreground element
  • cool, dark blues or mid greys make quiet backgrounds.
  • keep slides and transitions consistent, keep same template throughout
  • limit fonts to three per slide, and just one is fine
  • large, sans serif fonts (e.g. Arial 18 point) tend to work best
  • later versions of PowerPoint will automatically shrink your font to fit the box
  • do not include a big block of text such as a long quote (unless you have to)
  • Inserting graphics
  • graphics that hold useful information are better than merely decorative graphics
  • many useful graphics (portraits, maps, buildings) can now be "image googled"
  • a political theorist's portrait or a political leader's portrait can often be found
  • often good to put smaller, simpler graphics on left of text
  • in western civilization, we read from left to right, top to bottom
  • simple maps fit a PPT slide
  • functional data graphics (pie charts, bar graphs) can be generated easily in Excel, copied and pasted into the PPT file.  Then drag and size them into position
  • keep data graphs simple, so they fit the PPT screen
  • PowerPoint technique
  • select a good template before you work -- with heading and bullets if that suits your speech
  • Outline mode is a great way to enter text and keep a structure to your talk
  • Ctrl-M inserts a slide of the same background
  • slide sorting can be done in the filmstrip window
  • play back with F5 key, then PageDown to move through slides
  • you may find a good template in our online collection of past presentations
  • A basic set of slides for a generic project (adjust to suit your own project)
  • title and author slide
  • explanation of problem slide (could be a rhetorical question)
  • headings slide (perhaps four countries, cases or sections of paper)
  • literature survey slide lists up to 6 authors and years (perhaps short titles or key concepts)
  • sections slides (perhaps up to four per section of paper, with section heading at top)
  • graphics slides are interspersed with some of these
  • data slides for findings; bulleted slides alternating with graphs if available)
  • conclusions slide: perhaps four - six points for the audience to remember
  • end slide may hold selected references (perhaps six books)
  • Handouts and speaker's notes from PPT files
  • The easiest way to use handouts in case of a system crash, is to print out from PowerPoint in the form of handouts, 6 per page.
  • Assuming your text font is about 18 point, even these small screen shots are readable.
  • The printing dialog box gives you simple checkbox choices (e.g. print slides, handouts, or outline).