Academic Writing

How to Deliver a Research Presentation

The purpose of a research presentation is to make a good impression, give the audience a sense of your work, and entice them to learn more. It is NOT to tell them everything there about the subject or present every detail of your work. The key to finding the right balance of information is to know your audience, which will likely be a mix of experts in your field, students, and non-experts. Your presentation should be relatable for all. Oral research presentations are typically electronic slideshows lasting 10-15 minutes (25 slides maximum) and follow a basic formula. Be sure to check conference-specific requirements before finalizing your presentation.

Research Presentation Formula

  • Introduction, Overview, Hook
    • This section should consist of 1-2 slides and answer the question: “Why is this research important?” It should discuss the broader impact of your research (e.g., the big picture) and provide context for the listener to understand where and how your scientific data fit into current science.
  • Theoretical Framework, Research Question
    • This section should describe the theoretical framework used in the study in 1 slide. The research question should have its own slide and be limited to 1-2 sentences. The hypothesis can be listed as a sub-bullet point.
  • Background, Literature Review
    • This section should consist of 2-3 slides that introduce the details of your science and discuss pertinent prior studies. Avoid presenting information the audience already knows. Only discuss literature with which you are directly engaging and contributing. References should be cited on the bottom of each slide.
  • Methodology, Case Selection
    • This section is meant to tell readers exactly what was done in your study in 1-2 slides. It should describe the study population (including inclusion and exclusion criteria and n-size), and the data and sample collection methods, statistical methods, and power calculation. Flow diagrams and photos are helpful to include.
  • Results
    • This should be the largest section and encompass one-third to one-half of the presentation (4- 6 slides). Results should be presented in the same order as the methods and include a combination of summary text, tables, figures, and/or images. Every graph should have clear titles and axis labels. Edit and format figures specifically for your talk – do not cut and paste from grants and manuscripts. Stick to clearly presenting the data before moving on to interpreting the results in the Discussion Section.
  • Discussion, Conclusions
    • This section should be 1-2 slides that briefly summarize the major findings of the research project as they relate to the stated objective. This section should conclude with several statements about the broader implications of these findings for patients, the profession, and/or society. Bullet key points and elaborate on them in the presentation.
  • Next Steps (Optional)
    • This section should describe possible future directions for the research.
  • Acknowledgments
    • This section should thank the people, programs, and agencies that contributed to the research.
  • Questions (Include Your Name, Email, and Social Media Handles)
    • This section should include your contact details, including your name, email, and social media handles. Consider including a photo of yourself so your audience will remember you.

Tips for an Effective Presentation

  • Use one of your University PowerPoint templates, as they have been assembled according to projection specifications, as well as recommended font, spacing, and color formatting. Format slides the same way throughout the presentation, with consistently sized and placed headings and body text (no smaller than 20-point font).
  • Be sure to disclose if any authors have conflicts of interest or if funding was provided for any portion of the research project. Disclosures should appear on the first slide after the title slide.
  • Ensure tables, figures, and images are large enough to view the details when projected. Titles, axis labels, legends, and unit increments should be included on each figure. Important information should be noted with arrows or circles and significant results should be clearly labeled. Images must be the property of the authors or cited appropriately.
  • Do not use animation or imbed audio or video into your presentation. Links to outside websites are often unreliable and should only be used when absolutely necessary.
  • Be sure to practice your presentation and prepare answers to the five most obvious questions, basing the questions on weaknesses in your methods or missing links in logic.
  • Prepare an elevator pitch, a concise statement of your research interests and experience to be shared informally and orally in various professional contexts. It’s the response you might give when someone asks you in the elevator or in a hallway, “What are you working on?”


  1. Avoid Death by PowerPoint:
  2. Blome C, Sondermann H, Augustin M. Accepted standards on how to give a Medical Research Presentation: a systematic review of expert opinion papers. GMS J Med Educ. 2017;34(1). doi:10.3205/zma001088.
  3. Give a Great Research Talk (One-Hour YouTube Video): 30TU
  4. Give a Scientific Talk: 30T
  5. Giving a Successful Scientific Presentation: 30T scientific-presentation
  6. The Elevator Pitch – Presenting Your Research in Conversation: 30T

Further Reading

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