Creating a Conference Presentation

Scientific Writing

Creating an easy to follow, interesting, conference presentation is always the goal of conference attendees, but quite frequently low-quality presentations distract the audience from understanding quality work. Following a few basic principles and the hourglass method will quickly improve your presentation regardless if the presentation is 1 minute or 1 hour.

Know your audience

Knowing your audience is one of the most important rules to giving a great presentation and should be the first item considered during preparation. Knowing your audience will set the stage for background information needed, type of vocabulary to use, and the depth of the presentation. If the audience cannot understand the presentation or is not interested in it, everyone’s time has been wasted.


Shaping your presentation like an hourglass helps keep the audience engaged. Start off with the big picture, why should the audience care about what you are saying? Once you have the audience hooked start going into more detail about the exact topic until the middle of the hourglass is reached and the focus is now on your specific niche. Once the audience has learned the specifics, bring the presentation back to the big picture by connecting the dots of your specific topic to the big picture that originally captured the audience. Using this method helps keep the audience engaged and interested in your topic.

Pictures are worth a thousand words

If your presentation includes slides, include simple graphics and fewer words. Try to have 3 lines or less with 6 or fewer words per line on a slide. Slides with too many words are distracting to the audience and pull the attention away from the speaker to reading the slide. Use words on the slide to highlight speaking points and pictures to keep the attention of the audience. The slides are an aid to the presenter, not the main event.

Less is more

Simple is key, too much is distracting. If slides are being used, include only simple pictures. If using a complicated graphic, remake it with only the pieces you need. If the picture is too busy it will be a distraction to the audience, and they will miss out on the presentation. If there is something on the slide that will not be mentioned, do not include it on the slide. Only include pictures and information that help relay the point of your presentation to help keep your audience interested and engaged throughout the whole presentation.

Be consistent

Details are important. Be consistent throughout the presentation and use the same font, colors, size, punctuation, etc. When writing titles, either start every word with a capital letter, or make every title a sentence with ending punctuation. When writing bullet points, either use punctuation or do not. Ensure words and images are aligned. Any special symbols should be consistent throughout the presentation. Decide how you want to relay your information and stay consistent. Again, the goal is to keep the audience engaged and inconsistencies throughout a presentation can be very distracting.

 Altogether, the number one rule to a good presentation is to keep your audience interested! Knowing your audience, following the hourglass method, using simple pictures and fewer words, and consistency throughout the presentation will keep the audience focused on the exciting work you are trying to show them. Let MED help you with any presentation needs so your audience will be engaged at your next conference presentation!

At MED Institute, we offer a variety of scientific communication services including generating conference presentations. To learn more about MED and how we can partner with you, contact us today to start your project discussion.

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