How to Create a Stunning Presentation Cover Page [+ Examples]

Caroline Forsey

Published: January 06, 2021

When you're focused on creating a meaningful, persuasive presentation, it's easy to overlook the cover page. But giving that first page of your deck a little more love can actually go a long way towards grabbing your audience's attention early on and setting the tone for the rest of your presentation.

example of a presentation cover page

A stunning presentation cover page can intrigue your audience into wanting to know more and increase engagement with the information you’re presenting. On the other hand, a lackluster slide, or even the lack of one, can dampen audience enthusiasm for your presentation, and maybe even your own.

You've put so much work into your presentation -- why waste that valuable real estate on the first slide of your deck?

In this post, we'll cover the basics of creating a presentation cover page that's informative and attention-grabbing. Let's dive in.

→ Free Download: 10 PowerPoint Presentation Templates [Access Now]

What's included in a presentation cover page?

A good presentation cover page accomplishes three simple things:

  • It introduces the topic with a straightforward title.
  • It introduces you (and your organization, if applicable)
  • It sets the tone of your presentation.

We probably don't need to tell you this one, but your presentation cover page should be centered around a title. And ideally, a title that's straightforward, descriptive, and simple. If you're finding it hard to keep your title short, add a subtitle (in smaller print) to clarify what you'll be speaking about.

Presentation Cover Page: title

Next, identify the person (or group) who will be giving the presentation. In some cases, this will be as simple as including your own name, and in others, you'll want to include your company name, logo, department, or other identifying information. As a general guideline, you'll need less identifying information if you're giving an internal presentation.

If your audience is mainly folks outside of your company (or there are plans to distribute your deck externally) you'll typically want to include more information to identify your company clearly.

Presentation Cover Page: speaker

A successful cover page sets the "tone" of your deck -- but what does that really mean? The colors, imagery, fonts, and placements of different elements on your cover page all create a specific visual style that the rest of your deck should follow.

A well-designed page conveys a sense of professionalism and preparedness that a simple monochrome text slide simply cannot. Even if you're not a design expert, you need to pay attention to the aesthetics of your cover page. Fortunately, it's easier than ever to find free, professional-looking presentation templates without needing a degree in graphic design. Whatever you choose, it's important to remain relevant to your presentation (and, if applicable, your company's branding).

We'll explore a few examples of cover pages below so you can see how different elements converge to set the tone for a variety of different presentations.

Presentation Cover Page Examples

Below, we've compiled a number of presentation cover pages that succeed in different areas. Remember: there's no single perfect format for a presentation cover page, but hopefully, you get some inspiration from this list.

Setting An Emotional Tone

The right presentation page can set an emotional tone as well as a visual one. This presentation cover page for a nonprofit conveys a mission-driven approach to protecting nature, with a well-selected, relevant image, and a call-to-action directly in the subtitle. (Photo by Andy Køgl on Unsplash )

Presentation Cover Page Example 1

Focusing on a Photo

You don't need to overcomplicate the format of your cover page, especially if you have a great photo to use as a full background image. A simple stock photo here provides a clean backdrop for this presentation on remote work. Just make sure your title text is legible over any background photo you decide to use. (Photo by Corinne Kutz on Unsplash )

Presentation Cover Page Example 2

Leading With Your Brand

Even if you're the central speaker for a presentation, it might make more sense to highlight your team or brand on your cover page, instead of including your own personal information (you can always include your own contact info at the end of your deck for follow-up questions). Context (if you're speaking at a particular event or annual meeting) can be important to highlight as well on your cover page.

Presentation Cover Page Example 3

There's a big difference between a cover slide you didn't put much thought into and a slide that makes good use of whitespace and leans on strong copy. Sometimes, the best way to lead an audience into your presentation is to create space for a little mystery.

If you're giving a more casual presentation or a pitch that doesn't need to follow a particular format, consider going the minimal route and opening with a simple cover page slide that asks your audience a question (one that you of course plan to answer).

Presentation Cover Page Example 4

Set a Purpose

Many presentations include an agenda slide directly after your cover slide, but that doesn't mean you can use your cover slide to set a clear purpose upfront. Consider using your subtitle to explain a more robust (but still simple!) description of what you'll cover.

Presentation Cover Page Example 5

Presentation Cover Page Templates

Instead of creating your presentation cover page from scratch, using a template can take much of the work out of the process. Check out these websites for templates that you can use for your presentation or for inspiration to create your own designs.

A tried-and-true favorite of many marketing teams, Canva offers up a wide selection of modern, drag-and-drop presentation templates with truly unique cover pages. If you're on the hunt for a cover page that looks like you hired a graphic designer to create it just for you, Canva is a good place to start your search. Canva offers both free and paid options.

Presentation Cover Page Example 6 has an intuitive, highly-customizable presentation builder that allows you to import your own visual elements directly from your computer or a Dropbox folder. Like Canva, they offer a number of free and paid template options (with great cover pages). Their biggest differentiating feature is their (frankly, very cool) adaptive AI technology, which intuits how you're trying to design a slide and makes changes automatically to suit the direction of your project.

Presentation Cover Page Example 7

For a completely free option with cover page starter template to suit a wide range of different projects across different formats, check out EDIT. Their online tool is specifically designed to create cover pages in a simple, easy-to-use interface.

Presentation Cover Page Example 8

Another highly-customizable template source is Visme, which gives users the ability to select a starting template from their (expansive) library and customize elements in a simple web editor.

Presentation Cover Page Example 9

VectorStock ®

VectorStock® has a massive selection of PowerPoint presentation cover page templates for purchase if you're looking for something that's ready to plug and go without the need for customization (beyond adding your own name and title, of course).

Presentation Cover Page Example 10

First Impressions Matter

For better or worse, audiences will judge a presentation by its cover page. Because of this, it’s vital that you give your cover page the care and attention that it deserves. Ultimately, a cover page isn't simply a placeholder, it’s a vital component that can drum up interest for your presentation. The best part is that with the tools available online, you don’t have to be an artist to create a stunning presentation cover page.

The featured image on this post was created using a Canva template.

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6 Tips to Create an Eye-Catching Presentation Cover Page

6 Tips to Create an Eye-Catching Presentation Cover Page

Table of Contents

  • What Is a Presentation Cover Page? 

6 Tips to Create a Winning Presentation Cover Page

  • Key Takeaways 
  • Conclusion 

A good presentation cover page is just as important as the content inside it, but a great one will also draw attention and give your presentation an extra lift. By drawing attention to your presentation’s topic upfront, you can compel your audience to want to know more about what you have to say.

The cover page is one of the first things the audience will notice about your presentation. So, you must make a good first impression, and immediately. An effective PowerPoint cover page can set the tone for your entire presentation, and engage the audience from the get-go. And to get better at creating presentation cover page designs , you need to understand what an ideal presentation cover page is. 

conference presentation cover page

What Is a Presentation Cover Page?

When it comes to presentations, don’t underestimate the value of a powerful and captivating title slide. It’s one of the easiest and quickest ways to get people’s attention. A sound presentation cover page design helps achieve two crucial goals. 

  • Clarity in terms of the topic
  • A strong introduction to your brand

In a nutshell, your PowerPoint cover page (or any other presentation cover page for that matter) exposes your viewers to the main points of your presentation. It should also pique their interest and make them want to hear more. Now, let’s move on and understand the steps involved in creating a stunning cover page .

The cover page of the presentation is often the first clue that people get about what you are going to speak about. Therefore, you need to make sure that it’s clear, concise, and compelling. To ensure this, we have put together a few easy tips for you. 

1. Come up with a catchy title

It’s ideal to come up with a title that’s plain, descriptive, and easy if you’re delivering a presentation to a bunch of people who don’t know much of what you’re going to say. If you’re having trouble cutting down a long title, you can include a subtitle underneath that explains what you’ll be delivering information on.

You can get away with anything more intriguing or artistic, depending on the topic of your presentation, but make sure your title is not too obscure or incomprehensible. For example, the title in the below-mentioned slide is easy to understand and captivating as well. Notice how the word “Conference” has been highlighted and is followed by supplementary text underneath. 

conference presentation cover page

2. Check the overall tone

Why does the tone of your presentation, specifically the cover page, matter so much?  

The cover page paves the way for the rest of your presentation, and audiences are quick enough to decide whether they want to continue watching the presentation judging by its tone. But what do we mean by tone? In this context, tone means the overall style of the presentation.

A presentation cover page must dictate the objective in a professional yet quirky manner to attract and retain your audience’s attention. It should represent the worthiness and quality of your overall content. 

Apart from that, recently, aesthetics have become the topmost priority for many marketers. We, as humans, find aesthetics in everything, and easily get attracted to it. That’s why having an informative yet aesthetic cover page can set you apart from your competitors. 

Here’s an example of how tone and aesthetics should go together in a presentation cover page design. 

conference presentation cover page

3. Humanize your cover page

Humans are emotional beings. A good presentation page can do more than just present the work; it can set an emotional tone for the rest of the site. 

You want to be able to wow people with your presentation, but that doesn’t mean you need to be flashy, unemotional, or insensitive. On the contrary, if you create a cover page that uses emotions to get people excited about your work, nothing like it. They will not only know what to expect but will also be able to connect with your presentation on a deeper level.

Let’s look at an example of an emotion-driven approach for presentation cover pages.

conference presentation cover page

4. Shed some light on your brand

While it’s great to illustrate your objective on the cover page, it is also equally crucial to throw some light on your brand. In general, the opening page of your deck should convey what your company does. After all, it’s the first impression people will have of your company or project.

While you may be tempted to include your own photo and contact information on the cover page, it may be more appropriate to emphasize your team or brand instead. 

Here’s a brilliant example. 

conference presentation cover page

5. Keep it simple

As a content creator, you must make presentation cover page designs that educate and inform your audiences. You can do so effectively by going minimalistic.

Having too many pictures and words can distract the audience and confuse them. That is why having a minimal background is extremely important. It also lends professional and clarity to your presentation.

Check out this example to get a sense of what a minimalistic cover page should look like. 

conference presentation cover page

6. Use bold fonts

Last but not least, you should use bold fonts to display your ideas perfectly on the cover page. Strong fonts that include letters and numbers will attract eyeballs immediately.

Therefore, whenever you’re preparing a presentation cover page design, make sure you’re using bold and simple fonts, and not complex and thin fonts. 

Here’s an example of a presentation cover page that has a bold font. 

conference presentation cover page

Key Takeaways

  • A presentation cover page is a basis on which your audience decides whether to give their attention to the rest of the deck. 
  • To create a stunning cover page for your presentation, you need to ensure it has a catchy and short title.
  • The cover page should go well with your brand’s tonality.
  • Ensure you add emotions to attract your readers.
  • Add a little about your brand/business as well. 
  • Follow a coherent tone for the cover page, which can be carried forward to the rest of the presentation.
  • Smartly use bold fonts to capture the audience’s attention.

The cover page of your presentation is the first thing your audience will see. So, it’s important to make a great first impression with it. A well-designed presentation cover page can highlight the topics of your presentation and pique the interest of your audience. You’ll want to keep the design simple and clean.

In order to create a stunning cover page for your presentation, there are certain things you need to take care of and implement. For starters, you can keep your title short, and if there’s something more you want to add to the title, you can insert it as a subhead. Next, you should add some emotion to your cover page to gain your viewer’s attention. Apart from this, you should try and experiment with bold fonts, as they catch the viewer’s attention immediately. 

You must also add a minimalistic background to your cover pages, as too much information and pictures can confuse the viewers. And lastly, do not forget to add information about your brand or business to get your viewers acquainted with it. Remember, a great cover page can win half of your viewer’s heart, so make sure to make it as stunning as possible. 

A presentation cover page is the first thing your viewer gets to see. Basically, it is the first slide that informs your viewers about the presentation and its objectives.

An ideal PowerPoint cover page should have a captivating title, engaging imagery, and details about the company.

For the cover page, you should use bold fonts to attract the viewer’s attention and make a lasting impact. 

Yes, infographics help give viewers a clearer picture of your message. They may make them proactive listeners as well as responders.

Numbers attract viewers. So if you have statistics to back your claims, and if they’re relevant or fit the title, you should definitely go ahead and use them. 

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How to Design a Great Presentation Cover Page

A cover page is a quick and easy way to add polish to your presentation. We'll cover a few tips for creating a great cover image, and we've got ten free PowerPoint cover image templates you can download at the bottom of the page.

The cover image sets the tone for your presentation—you don't want to dive right into the content—and is a great opportunity to start your deck off on the right foot.

What to include

Your cover image should include these basic facts:

  • Title Short and sweet.
  • Your contact information. Email or phone number
  • Your company logo. It's all about branding.

Bonus tips:

Cobranding. Presenting to a customer? Add their logo to personalize the presentation.

Conferences. Including your Twitter handle is a great idea—you might gain some followers, and it gives your audience someone to tag when they gush about your awesome presentation.

Know your Audience

Consider how your audience will view your presentation deck (projected, on their laptop, or printed like it's 1995), and make sure that the scale of your design is appropriate.

If you're presenting at a conference, your type needs to be big enough to read from the cheap seats, and make sure you have enough contrast that the text is legible even if there's poor projector quality. You don't want your audience squinting at the screen before your presentation even starts. And remember—the title page will be what's on screen when you're getting ready—walking up to the stage, fixing your microphone, or just swallowing back the sheer terror of public speaking.

If you're emailing the presentation, make sure your cover image works well as a thumbnail. That will be the first thing your reader sees when she receives the file—and, let's face it, a better image is going to drive more opens than a boring one.

conference presentation cover page

Know your brand

If you have an established brand, your cover image needs to reflect it. One of the biggest problems we see with decks out in the wild is when the creator goes off-brand and uses the wrong colors or typeface. Imagine how surprising it would be to see a presentation from Coca-Cola without their trademark red, or Facebook without their blue.

Cover Image Techniques

Now that we have the basics down, here are some techniques you can use make a well-designed cover image.

Stock Photography

The workhorse of cover images is stock photography—an attractive photo with plenty of negative space, then place your text on top of it. The trick is to find the right photo and make it work for you. Pexels is a great place to find free images you can use anywhere. When you're looking for stock photos, keep these tips in mind to help you find the right image.

Sometimes you'll need to do a quick bit of editing to make the image work for you. The important thing is to find an image that works in the background —one that lets your reader focus on your message, not the photo. These images tend to look boring all by themselves—you need to use a bit of imagination to see how it will work once you layer text on it.

conference presentation cover page

Once you have an image, you can desaturate and tint it to give it better contrast for your text, or manipulate the image to give it more negative space, as you see below.


Nice typography will take a you a long way, and it's something you can do in PowerPoint without any special tools. We're in a renaissance of great, free fonts. Take a look at this selection of the best Google Fonts from the always awesome TypeWolf for inspiration.

Using custom fonts can be tricky in PowerPoint. If you're having trouble getting your fonts to show up, take a look at this article . If you're sharing the PowerPoint with others, they'll need to have the fonts installed (we recommend always exporting your deck to PDF before sharing with customers to avoid font problems).

We all know PowerPoint isn't the greatest design tool—but it does the basics well enough, and you can use it to make a minimal design that works well.

Even though they're "easy" to do, with the right layout and sense of balance you can make a design that really sings with hardly any design elements.

Strong color combinations, simple shapes, and nice typography can yield a cover page that looks great without searching for stock images or opening Photoshop. Need a little help with color combinations? Check out Kuler from Adobe .

Free PowerPoint Cover Page Templates

We've made examples of the styles above for you to download and use. These are completely free—do whatever you like with them!

Coffee Cup PowerPoint Cover

Requires  open sans download powerpoint file, beach powerpoint cover, requires  playfair display download powerpoint file, office building powerpoint cover, requires  open sans and playfair display download powerpoint file, circles powerpoint cover, bridge powerpoint cover, desk powerpoint cover, design tools powerpoint cover, simple powerpoint cover, tiled background powerpoint cover, topographic background powerpoint cover.

conference presentation cover page

Enjoy! If you need some ideas to get you started, take a look at our portfolio of decks we've designed . Or if you'd like a little help on your next project, we're happy to help .

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conference presentation cover page

Create better conference slides and presentations

Do you want to start a journey in public speaking , but are no designers ? You’re in the right place! Today, I am showing you the ropes and basics to help you craft slides that look professional. Slides that will help catch the audience’s attention, while still keeping them focused on your talk. No magic; mostly planing, typography, content layout, images, audio, video and content tips. And a few extra tips on rhythm, notes, technical checks, rehearsals. You know, all those small details to make sure you are and feel prepared . As bonus, I bundled this all quick checklist to help you not forget anything. So here we go, let’s start your slides journey together 🙂

This article is a transcript of the tips I gave for Women Talk Design’s next cohort of “ Present yourself with confidence ” workshops that starts soon. And this year, I am one of their guest speaker .

Inspiration, Planing, Preparation & Rehearsal

The first tip I can give you about slides, is actually to not start with the slides, but with a plan and a structure.

Start with understanding what type of “ conference style ” you want to go with. Take a look at other talks and slides for inspiration : technical ones, inspirational ones (like keynotes), case studies, etc. What style do you enjoy? What would YOU be comfortable with?

Some people have 125 slides for a 45min talk and go super fast from slide to slide. Some people have 25 slides for 45 minutes and talk a lot on each slide. I’m usually a 90slides for 45min kind of gurl. Up to you to see what you are more comfortable with. It comes with practise and might change over time.

Have a plan

** Xayha and Rakan’s voices “ We have a plan? We always have a plan ” **

I always start with a plan , not the slides. I like to write my talk like articles, it helps with storytelling. Some people write a plan with a few bullet points. Some people use mind mapping tools. Whatever works for you.

For anything topic and plan related, I recommend you read Lara Hogan’s excellent “ Demystifying public speaking ” book. I prepare my plan in Gdocs, with a LOT of bullet points and titles. But, again, that’s me. Whatever tool helps YOU organise your structure. Then, I don’t want to invest too much time in the slide design until I have the structure and timing right.

If this is a “non remote talk” (yes, remote is the new normal haha), I also plan for “ OMG I can’t share the computer’s audio and there’s no internet connection in the room ” worse case scenarios. Because this might happen. Can you still give your talk from a PDF version of those slides? If you planned a live demo, record it in advance. Just in case. And have the recording as a backup in case wifi is dead. Be prepared for a “lower” version of those slides and talk if necessary.

Rehearse the structure with “skeleton slides”.

So I start with basic slide structure (titles + text), kind of like a skeleton of future slides.. I rehearse them once or twice to get the timing, storytelling and content right . Then I do the design (this way I avoid designing slides I won’t use).

I also sometimes rehearse that basic structure in front of an external observer to get feedback about the rhythm, the flow. If also helps me see if the order of the slides make sense. I don’t need super detailed designed slides for this, it’s about structure.

Example of the skeletong slides with just the structure and some speaker notes

This is what my skeleton usually looks like: the main titles, the slides with mostly just some text and some notes

Once I have the slides finished, I still rehearse a lot. Usually, if it’s the first time I give a talk, I am up to 4 or 5 rehearsal sessions. This is important for me to get the timing right. I know that I’m stressed out and tend to speak faster, but still. You don’t want to be the speaker who messed up the whole organization because your 20 min talk took 35 min (I saw that happen). I have friends who can finish their slides 1h before the talk and pull it of. Goof for them. BUT, if this is your first talk, don’t do that. It will be even more stressful for you. Be prepared 🙂

Section titles or no titles?

Having clear sections with titles work well for technical talks and talks where each part digs into a specific topic. Titles also help transition from one idea to the other and let you have a small “breathing” (even water) break. If you have titles, having a summary of what you’ll talk about at the beginning can help the audience project into the talk. Some other talks are following more of a storytelling inspirational path. For those, it might be strange to have titles in the middle of the story. But, it could still work.

Slides Content and Design

A quick note: those are generic advice for people who give their first talk, want to improve their presentation and slide skills and might not be designers. I speak and talk in English and French, so those advice is for LtR (Left to Right) languages. You could reverse the tips for RtL (Right to Left). I honestly have no idea if this would apply for TtB (Top to Bottom) languages (like Chinese).

Here comes my main advice: your conference slides are a visual support to help the audience follow what you are saying. It is NOT here replace you . You want them to listen to you, not read your slides. So, all the tips here will try to focus on that idea. Non visual distraction.

Which means that those tips apply mostly to conference slides . Workshop and teaching slides are a little bit different. Because they are also used as support students and workshop attendees refer back to. So, if you are teaching classes or presenting a workshop, your slides might contain more content that what I advice here.

Slides basics for a good start

conference presentation cover page

Gslide Explore layout offers multiple layouts for an image and text combination

Let’s cover a few basics first:

  • Slides ratio : 16:9 works on most projectors those days and is ideal for online presentation. 4:3 is still an option since most projectors can switch between one or the other. I prefer 16:9 because it gives more space for nice visuals.
  • You can always ask the organizer about the format of the projector if they know it.
  • There’s NO SHAME in using a generic theme when you start. Most themes come with a lot of options and layout.
  • Use a consistent theme : colors, consistent font-size, etc. The best way to achieve this is to use slide templates/ master. If you don’t use a generic template, you can start from scratch. Most tools have blank starter themes. Or modify an existing theme to adapt to your colors / fonts.
  • GSlides even has some machine learning suggestions to try to find the best layout based on your content .
  • Avoid too many ideas on one slide . If you have a lot of ideas and content, it’s better to split “one idea by slide ” so the audience can follow.

Choosing your color scheme wisely

White text on yellow background, not enough contrast on the left. White text on purple background, enough contrast on the right

When it comes to colors, be careful with text/background contrast and follow main accessibility guidelines. Especially if the slides might be displayed on old projectors. I am not going to detail how to pick colors here, I wrote about it in “ Tips to Create an Accessible and Contrasted Color Palette “. Also check “ Color accessibility: tools and resources to help you design inclusive products ” for more details and tools to help you. Also Geoffrey Crofte has an awesome article on “ Pantone 2021: Working on an Accessible Color Palette “.

One question I have often is the “do you recommend light or dark theme”. It is an interesting debate. It depends.

  • Dark themes work for dark rooms. If you know you will present in a theatre or cinema for example.
  • If you are not a designer it can be hard to make some good readable dark mode slides that work nicely with pictures .
  • Dark themes work nicely with code, and “non images just text” kind of slides.
  • Some colors tend to “bleed” or “move” on a dark background. If you put some levels of blue on dark themes for example I will have a headache after 10 minutes in your talk. So, again, it might be complicated.
  • So, if this is your first talk and you are not a designer, unless you found a template that works, stick to light themes.
  • If you go for a dark theme, avoid pure white text on pure black color . The contrast might be too high for some people (like me, yes there’s such things as too high contrast).
  • Also if you are doing more of a workshop, some people like to print the slides to have a physical handout. In that case, dark mode is going to cost a LOT of ink.

Fonts and typography

A too small font and a too thin font

Font hierarchy and ratio : usually you need a font-size for some “big section titles”, then a “header in the slides” size and some body and bullet font-size. You can use mathematique ratio to create balance here (or tools like ). But again, most templates usually are well built, so use the template font hierarchy

Also, you want to keep consistency . Try to use the same font-size for “big slides titles”, “header title on a slide” and “body copy” all the way through your presentation. Again, designers who master font and visual hierarchy will play with this rule. But if you are a beginner with no design background, stick to the rules ^^

Example of a cursive and a decorative font that don't work well on slides

Now, here are a 2 tips on font choice and pairing : fonts convey meaning. Be careful with those (a cursive is nice for weddings, but hard to read on slides for example). When in double, stick to the basics , even if they look boring. Same for font pairing: if you are not a designer, stick to one font and multiple weight . Or use one of those tools:

  • Some examples of good Google Font pairings
  • A curated list of (google fonts) pairings that work well together
  • Another curated list of nice pairings
  • Okay, one last list of fonts that work well together
  • Font pairing generated with deep learning
  • Font Combination by Bold

Last but not least: don’t use vertical writing (again, this applies to LtR languages). And yes, I know some templates offer the option. But it’s annoying for the audience to have to turn their head to read something.

Caps and alignments

Example of all caps text

Avoid all caps on super long titles / text . It is harder to read for some people. But you could use caps it to emphasize some words.

You can use bold to emphasize some important elements . Remember that if everything is bold, nothing is emphasized anymore. So, use this carefully.

Examples of bad text agliements

For the alignment:

  • For LtR audience, avoid right aligning copy text. And the other way around for RtL. This is not true for graphs thought you might need to right align legends.
  • Also centered text is hard to read. So keep centered text for titles , avoid on body copy, avoid at all costs on bullet points!
  • Same for justification: it usually creates “ justification rivers ” that make it hard to read. Stick to left aligned text (or right if you are in a RtL language).

Structure your content with bullet point lists

Visual example of the technics applied above

Bullet point lists is a good way to structure some heavy content. Here are a few tips:

  • Use a bullet list , but not too many bullets.
  • I mentioned before you want to have one idea by slide . You could have multiple ideas with bullet points but… They need to be all related to the same topic. And after 4/5 bullets it’s hard to follow .
  • Try to keep each bullet content short . Unless it’s teaching slides that you will give to students after. But for conference talk slides, again, you don’t want people to read it .
  • So, put the main idea in the bullet in a few words, then develop it in your speech.
  • Tools like keynote let you play the bullets one by one . It’s a nice trick to help people focus on the current bullet.
  • Another trick is to gray out any bullets that are not the current topic

Structure your content with layout and composition

The human eye loves structures. And things that are aligned. Slides should also follow basic “aligning design elements” rules:

  • Use guides to make sure everything is aligned properly.
  • Sometimes the guides are hidden, you usually find those options under “view” of the main tools/
  • Also use the alignment tools in your presentation software to align content with each other. They usually “appear” when you select multiple elements. They are under things called “align” or “arrange” It’s amazing how just a few alignment can change some slides.
  • Same tips for distribution. Use the horizontal / vertical distribution options when you have multiple elements and want them to be equally spaces.
  • Don’t put important information in the edges in case it might get cropped. Or you might have your webcam on top of it with certain tools (Skype I hate you).

Visual examples of the layout described

You should also follow some rules of composition to make your slides more balanced when you have multiple elements (like text + image)

  • Vertical splits work well : content left + image right or the other way around.
  • You could also use math ratio: 1/3 – 2/3 . Explore different options depending on your content density and image sizes.
  • Top / bottom composition might work in some cases. But it depends on the image.

Here are some visual examples of different compositions using the same image and text. It depends what you want to put more emphasis on. Note the blue and red lines: those are my guides/rules.

Using images in slides

How to chose the right images for your slides is out of the scope of this article. But most tips I give in “ How to make your blog images stand out & reflect your identity ” also apply to slides. So be sure to check it out.

Now, let’s talk about how to use those images and what you need to be careful about:

  • Keep the ratio of images when scaling . ALWAYS. This is the number one deadly sin of images in slides. Horrible stretched images make me want to cry. And make YOU look unprofessional and amateurish.
  • If you have a portrait image, it is easier to use a left / right composition (see tips above). You don’t think you need to center everything 🙂
  • Be careful about how the image is cropped , what the focus of the image is. For example: avoid chopping someone’s head of with your image cropping
  • If you scale up images, make sure they are not pixelated (especially for high def projectors).
  • On that note SVGs are awesome for images that scale without pixelation (but Keynote doesn’t like them).
  • Accessibility : if you have images that bring information like graphs, tell the audience what’s on the image . Some people might be blind, some people might listen to your talk in audio only. You could put the description in the notes to help you remember to describe it (this doesn’t apply if you have decorative images that are here to fill the space and make the slides look nice).
  • Looping gifs might look fun, but they are quite annoying if they stay on screen for a long time.
  • Also, anything moving is distracting to our reptilian brain and draws attention. So, be careful with looping videos, gif or animations (more on that in the video section).
  • Diversity is important . Try to avoid having only images of white men in your presentations. Especially for a quite diverse audience. Same for different body types, different disabilities, etc. The best talks have inclusive images.
  • Also, if you quote people, it would be nice to not only quote the same white men everyone is quoting #stevejobs
  • Drawing illustrations for your slides is an awesome idea if you draw, but, this takes a LOT of time. You are warned. (still I love the illustration slides style).

Example of different layouts with colors

You can also have fun with full screen images. But then how do you deal with the text? Here’s a few ideas:

  • If you use background images and text on top of those, again, be careful with contrast and accessibility. You can have a dark (or dark colored) overlay on top of them to enhance contrast
  • Instead of having a whole overlay, you can have a background only on your text (like put the text in a box).
  • That background can be a rectangle like the example below. But you could have fun with shapes . I use a lot of text on full yellow circules in my talks . Just be careful because text might be more complex to read if it follows a complex shape

Graphs and chart

conference presentation cover page

I’m not a big fan of graphs and charts because they bring a lot of cognitive load to the audience. And again, you want people to listen to you. Not to try to understand the graph on the slides. So, here are a few tips:

  • It’s hard to keep the audience engaged with complex graphs. Extract the main idea , one number and don’t show graphs at all.
  • If you really need a graph, try to make it simple. Avoid gradients and visual noise. Remove unnecessary information. Keep in mind that it’s supposed to be a visual help for your talk , not the other way around.
  • Also if you use graph, be careful about accessibility : don’t use color as the way to convey information.

Last but not least, it’s not always easy to find the “right” visual representation for the data. Should you go with a pie chart? An histogram? Here are a few resources to help:

  • From Data to Viz
  • Data Visualization – How to Pick the Right Chart Type?
  • An intro to designing accessible data visualizations
  • How to pick more beautiful colors for your data visualizations

Multimedia content (videos, audio, animations)

This is a personal preference, but I am not a big fan of animations and things moving around. Prezi’s zoom in/out makes me nauseous, literally. They are distracting at best. So, I tend to avoid eye candy animations between slides . Or to stick to smooth fadein/out.

It’s even worse if you present remotely. There’s a chance that people will not even see your animation anyway if there’s a latency with your bandwidth. Or frame drops.

As I explain in my talk “ Enhancing User Experience with CSS Animations “, animations are a good candidate for storytelling. They can help explain complex concepts, like graphs or flows. So, I would use animations in those cases: when moving things around on the screen helps people understand the concept.

When it comes to audio and videos with sound, here are a few tips:

  • If you have sound, test audio before the talk . Make sure it’s not too loud for the audience.
  • If you are presenting remotely, it’s a whole other mess. By default, most video conference tools only route the audio of your microphone . Some tools like zoom have a checkbox that lets you also share the audio of your computer. But most tools don’t. If you have audio in your slides and want to play it remotely, depending on the tool, you need to reroute the audio of your computer to the microphone. You need some virtual cable software to do so. I use loopback for that on mac.
  • Based on your bandwidth, your videos might be super poor quality, or have some frames that drop . Be prepared to describe what’s happening on the video if you are speaking remotely.
  • Usually webcams use a lot of bandwidth. If you want to keep the quality of the audio and your screen sharing, it’s sad, but sometimes it’s better to turn off your webcam .

Most presentation tools now also let you embed videos. A short video can be a nice way to help get your message accross to your audience. It’s also a life saver for demos. I’ve seen so many demos backfire, that now, I don’t do them live anymore, I pre-record them instead and play the video during the talk. It takes a little bit of time to record, prepare and cut, but there’s plenty of tools online, like FlexClip , that can help you with that. Also, if you have some sound in your video, don’t forget to have some caption so that the audience can follow. It will also save you in case the sound doesn’t work.

Announce triggering content

Some multimedia content might be triggered for different reasons. I usually try to announce when some content might be triggering at the beginning of the talk, and then, just before the triggering slide comes. For example: I have a talk on UX design where I use a campaign for safety vests where the person is drowning. This is a horrible (yet effective) image, and drowning might trigger some people. So I announce this at the beginning of the talk, and just before I play that video.

This is also true for animations . I have a whole talk on CSS animations and I know some of those might trigger motion sickness so I announce them before playing them, and only play them once.

It’s also true for sound. I once almost left a conference room because the speaker was playing samples of ASMR and the audio was so loud and it created some cognitive overload for me. I covered my ears, the friend next to me left. Announce that kind of audio content before.

Giving the Talk: rhythm, speaker notes, pausing, breathing and drinking water

conference presentation cover page

My notes on the right with the “breath” written (in French) and Marie’s “don’t forget to drink” slide

Okay, we tackled the part of the slides people can see. I got a few more tips for the part people don’t see.

  • I put a lot of notes in the slides, even full sentences. This helps me because English is not my native language.
  • Stress can make you forget what you wanted to say. I don’t want to read those notes (but you can totally read them if this is your style), but I want to have them around if I am lost . It’s one of those “I am prepared I won’t panic” things.
  • Those notes have words in bold. This way, even if I do not read them, my eye still has words to focus on if I need them.
  • Notes also help me with timing . I found out that if I don’t have notes or script, I tend to talk way much more on specific slides. It’s usually okay in a meetup when you are the only speaker. But, if you are talking at a conference and you have a specific amount of time, going off topic means you have to go quicker through some other slides later.
  • I write “BREATH” or “RESPIRE” in purple on my notes . It’s strange, but it helps. I know speakers who have a “breath post it” on the screen. It’s just one of those reminders.
  • Talking will dry your mouth and it’s actually a big brain activity, your brain needs water. Have a few slides where you know you can drink some water . It can be a title slide. Or you could have a cute slide with your pet on it, that works too. My friend Marie Guillaumet does that and the audience loves it. Here’s her cute cat.

Technical check and room setting

You have nice slides, you are prepared. You rehearsed. Everything is fine. There’s still a few extra things you can check and do to make sure everything runs smoothly for your talk.

  • If you can visit and take a look at the room you will be presenting into (or ask pictures) to adapt , it’s nice. It also helps me be less nervous.
  • Be careful about stage and room layout . I presented in a flat room where all the participants were on the same level, super low screen. It meant that any text at the bottom of the slides would not be seen by some people. It’s okay if I read that text, but still it might be frustrating for the audience.
  • Check the air , is it cold on stage? Warn ? This way you can dress to be at ease.
  • Try to know where the notes will be displayed . Do you need to be close to your computer? Are there some small screens at the bottom of the stage? Are your notes big enough?
  • If you speak remotely: ask to see the template. I have seen conferences that cover part of the left of the slides with a speaker webcam. They should not, but you never know. Try to see the remote setting and plan accordingly.
  • Some conferences have live captions (online and in person). Those captions take space on the screen. So maybe your slides will be smaller than expected because of the caption. Again, ask.
  • Ask for a technical check before. Check audio , check the wifi if you need it, check the slides format. If you have videos, check if they are smooth (especially if it’s a remote online conference).
  • If it’s a remote conference, ask to use the tool before to test how it works. Try to know how it will work. Do you have to share your screen and unmute yourself at a specific time or does a technical person do it for you? I once spoke at a conference in Russia and the tool was in Russian. I was glad that we did some technical checks so that I knew where to press to share my screen and webcam.

Most conferences are used to all of that. So they will usually come to you for technical checks and all. But, you can never be too prepared.

A few other final tips

This was a looong list of tips. So, just a few last things before you go

  • Enjoy yourself . The audience is rooting FOR you. They are usually just a bunch of nice people eager to learn and listen to you.
  • The audience doesn’t see your notes, your plan. If you miss something, they might not even notice 😉
  • If it’s possible (and it doesn’t pose any issues with NDAs and such), giving access to the slides to the audience before or during the talk can be useful.
  • If there’s someone who will introduce you, you could drop the “me presenting myself” slide. This is good advice if you are on a tight schedule and need to remove slides haha, like me.

And if you present online and remotely:

  • Check with the organizers if you will take the questions during the talk or after . Some speakers are comfortable chatting with the chat audience while going through the slides. While some other speakers don’t like their flow to be broken and prefer the questions at the end. Both are okay, know what makes YOU comfortable and communicate with the organizers.
  • For remote conferences, what’s important is your voice and slides. I think it’s okay to switch off the camera if this causes bandwidth issues . You want to keep the audio and screen sharing quality as high as possible.
  • Live caption: Powerpoint has some built in live captioning tools. It’s not perfect but it’s a start to try to make your content more accessible if the conference doesn’t provide any (I wish Keynote had that). For me it’s okay in English. French is a mess though.

We all love a good checklist. Well, at least I do. So, to help you not forget any of those tips, I prepared a small checklist in PDF that you can download a go trough when you’ll design your first slides.

Download the Slides Checklist in .PDF

Resources and more tips from other people

And here comes the usual list of other tips you could check on that topic:

  • My friend Morgane Peng wrote a nice article to help you start with public speaking . Also thank you Morgane for the proof reading of this article ^^
  • Again, check Lara Hogan’s book
  • Accessible Speaking Best Practices

Other articles you might enjoy:

  • There is an app, NO, a web API for that – conference talk
  • Designing for Accessibility: Creating Inclusive and User-Centric Products
  • Mind over Matter: Optimize Performance Without Code – CSSCamp 2019

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Published on 4 May 2021

in UX Research & Design

By Stéphanie Walter

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The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Conference Papers

What this handout is about.

This handout outlines strategies for writing and presenting papers for academic conferences.

What’s special about conference papers?

Conference papers can be an effective way to try out new ideas, introduce your work to colleagues, and hone your research questions. Presenting at a conference is a great opportunity for gaining valuable feedback from a community of scholars and for increasing your professional stature in your field.

A conference paper is often both a written document and an oral presentation. You may be asked to submit a copy of your paper to a commentator before you present at the conference. Thus, your paper should follow the conventions for academic papers and oral presentations.

Preparing to write your conference paper

There are several factors to consider as you get started on your conference paper.

Determine the structure and style

How will you structure your presentation? This is an important question, because your presentation format will shape your written document. Some possibilities for your session include:

  • A visual presentation, including software such as PowerPoint or Prezi
  • A paper that you read aloud
  • A roundtable discussion

Presentations can be a combination of these styles. For example, you might read a paper aloud while displaying images. Following your paper, you might participate in an informal conversation with your fellow presenters.

You will also need to know how long your paper should be. Presentations are usually 15-20 minutes. A general rule of thumb is that one double-spaced page takes 2-2.5 minutes to read out loud. Thus an 8-10 page, double-spaced paper is often a good fit for a 15-20 minute presentation. Adhere to the time limit.  Make sure that your written paper conforms to the presentation constraints.

Consider the conventions of the conference and the structure of your session

It is important to meet the expectations of your conference audience. Have you been to an academic conference previously?  How were presentations structured? What kinds of presentations did you find most effective? What do you know about the particular conference you are planning to attend? Some professional organizations have their own rules and suggestions for writing and presenting for their conferences. Make sure to find out what they are and stick to them.

If you proposed a panel with other scholars, then you should already have a good idea of your panel’s expectations. However, if you submitted your paper individually and the conference organizers placed it on a panel with other papers, you will need additional information.

Will there be a commentator? Commentators, also called respondents or discussants, can be great additions to panels, since their job is to pull the papers together and pose questions. If there will be a commentator, be sure to know when they would like to have a copy of your paper. Observe this deadline.

You may also want to find out what your fellow presenters will be talking about. Will you circulate your papers among the other panelists prior to the conference? Will your papers address common themes? Will you discuss intersections with each other’s work after your individual presentations? How collaborative do you want your panel to be?

Analyze your audience

Knowing your audience is critical for any writing assignment, but conference papers are special because you will be physically interacting with them. Take a look at our handout on audience . Anticipating the needs of your listeners will help you write a conference paper that connects your specific research to their broader concerns in a compelling way.

What are the concerns of the conference?

You can identify these by revisiting the call for proposals and reviewing the mission statement or theme of the conference. What key words or concepts are repeated? How does your work relate to these larger research questions? If you choose to orient your paper toward one of these themes, make sure there is a genuine relationship. Superficial use of key terms can weaken your paper.

What are the primary concerns of the field?

How do you bridge the gap between your research and your field’s broader concerns? Finding these linkages is part of the brainstorming process. See our handout on brainstorming . If you are presenting at a conference that is within your primary field, you should be familiar with leading concerns and questions. If you will be attending an interdisciplinary conference or a conference outside of your field, or if you simply need to refresh your knowledge of what’s current in your discipline, you can:

  • Read recently published journals and books, including recent publications by the conference’s featured speakers
  • Talk to people who have been to the conference
  • Pay attention to questions about theory and method. What questions come up in the literature? What foundational texts should you be familiar with?
  • Review the initial research questions that inspired your project. Think about the big questions in the secondary literature of your field.
  • Try a free-writing exercise. Imagine that you are explaining your project to someone who is in your department, but is unfamiliar with your specific topic. What can you assume they already know? Where will you need to start in your explanation? How will you establish common ground?

Contextualizing your narrow research question within larger trends in the field will help you connect with your audience.  You might be really excited about a previously unknown nineteenth-century poet. But will your topic engage others?  You don’t want people to leave your presentation, thinking, “What was the point of that?” By carefully analyzing your audience and considering the concerns of the conference and the field, you can present a paper that will have your listeners thinking, “Wow! Why haven’t I heard about that obscure poet before? She is really important for understanding developments in Romantic poetry in the 1800s!”

Writing your conference paper

I have a really great research paper/manuscript/dissertation chapter on this same topic. Should I cut and paste?

Be careful here. Time constraints and the needs of your audience may require a tightly focused and limited message. To create a paper tailored to the conference, you might want to set everything aside and create a brand new document.  Don’t worry—you will still have that paper, manuscript, or chapter if you need it. But you will also benefit from taking a fresh look at your research.

Citing sources

Since your conference paper will be part of an oral presentation, there are special considerations for citations. You should observe the conventions of your discipline with regard to including citations in your written paper. However, you will also need to incorporate verbal cues to set your evidence and quotations off from your text when presenting. For example, you can say: “As Nietzsche said, quote, ‘And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you,’ end quote.” If you use multiple quotations in your paper, think about omitting the terms “quote” and “end quote,” as these can become repetitive. Instead, signal quotations through the inflection of your voice or with strategic pauses.

Organizing the paper

There are numerous ways to effectively organize your conference paper, but remember to have a focused message that fits the time constraints and meets the needs of your audience. You can begin by connecting your research to the audience’s concerns, then share a few examples/case studies from your research, and then, in conclusion, broaden the discussion back out to general issues in the field.

Don’t overwhelm or confuse your audience

You should limit the information that you present. Don’t attempt to summarize your entire dissertation in 10 pages. Instead, try selecting main points and provide examples to support those points. Alternatively, you might focus on one main idea or case study and use 2-4 examples to explain it.

Check for clarity in the text

One way to anticipate how your ideas will sound is to read your paper out loud. Reading out loud is an excellent proofreading technique and is a great way to check the clarity of your ideas; you are likely to hear problems that you didn’t notice in just scanning your draft.  Help listeners understand your ideas by making sure that subjects and verbs are clear and by avoiding unnecessarily complex sentences.

Include verbal cues in the text

Make liberal use of transitional phrases like however, therefore, and thus, as well as signpost words like first, next, etc.

If you have 5 main points, say so at the beginning and list those 5 ideas. Refer back to this structure frequently as you transition between sections (“Now, I will discuss my fourth point, the importance of plasma”).

Use a phrase like “I argue” to announce your thesis statement. Be sure that there is only one of these phrases—otherwise your audience will be confused about your central message.

Refer back to the structure, and signal moments where you are transitioning to a new topic: “I just talked about x, now I’m going to talk about y.”

I’ve written my conference paper, now what?

Now that you’ve drafted your conference paper, it’s time for the most important part—delivering it before an audience of scholars in your field!  Remember that writing the paper is only one half of what a conference paper entails. It is both a written text and a presentation.

With preparation, your presentation will be a success. Here are a few tips for an effective presentation. You can also see our handout on speeches .

Cues to yourself

Include helpful hints in your personal copy of the paper. You can remind yourself to pause, look up and make eye contact with your audience, or employ body language to enhance your message. If you are using a slideshow, you can indicate when to change slides. Increasing the font size to 14-16 pt. can make your paper easier to read.

Practice, practice, practice

When you practice, time yourself. Are you reading too fast? Are you enunciating clearly? Do you know how to pronounce all of the words in your paper? Record your talk and critically listen to yourself. Practice in front of friends and colleagues.

If you are using technology, familiarize yourself with it. Check and double-check your images. Remember, they are part of your presentation and should be proofread just like your paper.  Print a backup copy of your images and paper, and bring copies of your materials in multiple formats, just in case.  Be sure to check with the conference organizers about available technology.


The written text is only one aspect of the overall conference paper. The other is your presentation. This means that your audience will evaluate both your work and you! So remember to convey the appropriate level of professionalism.

Works consulted

We consulted these works while writing this handout. This is not a comprehensive list of resources on the handout’s topic, and we encourage you to do your own research to find additional publications. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial . We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback.

Adler, Abby. 2010. “Talking the Talk: Tips on Giving a Successful Conference Presentation.” Psychological Science Agenda 24 (4).

Kerber, Linda K. 2008. “Conference Rules: How to Present a Scholarly Paper.” The Chronicle of Higher Education , March 21, 2008. .

You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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Writing for Publication: Conference Proposals & Presentations

Presenting at conferences is an efficient and exciting forum in which you can share your research and findings.  However, presenting your work to others at a conference requires determining what type of presentation would best suit your material as well as choosing an appropriate conference. Once you have made those decisions, you will be ready to write your conference proposal.

Types of Presentations

The types of professional conferences vary, from large international gatherings to small, regional meetings. The content can also be very research driven or be focused more specifically on the needs of practitioners. Hence, different conferences tend to have different formats, but the following are some of the most common:

Poster sessions are most frequently found in the sciences, but they are often offered as an option at conferences in other disciplines as well. A poster session is a visual representation of your work. In this format, you can highlight areas of your research and display them both textually and visually. At most conferences, poster sessions take place in a large room. Typically, researchers stand next to their display and answer informal questions about their research. See the American Public Health Association's Poster Session Guidelines for an example of the requirements for posters, keeping in mind that each professional organization and conference will have its own guidelines.

Panel discussions or presentations are formal conversations organized around a specific subject. At most conferences, several speakers take turns speaking for a predetermined amount of time about their research and findings on a given subject. Panel discussions are almost always followed by a question and answer session from the audience. At most conferences, choosing to present at a panel discussion is often more competitive than being selected for a poster session.

A paper with respondent session involves a presenter orally sharing his or her data and conclusions for an allotted period of time. Following that presentation, another researcher, often one with differing views on the same subject, gives a brief response to the paper. The initial presenter then responds to the respondent's response.

In a conference presentation, sometimes presenters just give a report of their research, especially if it has some implications to practice.

Writing the Proposal

Like an abstract, a successful conference proposal will clearly and succinctly introduce, summarize, and make conclusions about your topic and findings. Though every conference is, of course, different, objectives and conclusions are found in all conference proposals. However, be sure to follow a conference's submission guidelines, which will be listed on the conference website. Every conference has a committee that evaluates the relevance and merit of each proposal. The following are some important factors to take into consideration when crafting yours:

Length: Many conference proposals are no more than 400 words. Thus, brevity and clarity are extremely important.

Relevance: Choosing an appropriate conference is the first step toward acceptance of your work. The conference committee will want to know how your work relates to the topic of the conference and to your field as a whole. Be sure that your proposal discusses the uniqueness of your findings, along with their significance. Do not just summarize your research, but rather, place your research in a larger context. What are the implications of your findings? How might another researcher use your data?

Quotations : Avoid including in too many quotations in your conference proposal. If you do choose to include quotations, it is generally recommended that you state the author's name, though you do not need to include a full citation (Purdue Online Writing Lab, 2012).

Focus: Most experts recommend that a conference proposal have a thesis statement early on in the proposal. Do not keep the reader guessing about your conclusions. Rather, begin with your concise and arguable thesis and then discuss your main points. Remember, there is no need to prove your thesis in this shortened format, only to articulate your thesis and the central arguments you will use to back up your claims should you be invited to present your work.

Tone: Make sure to keep your audience in mind and to structure your proposal accordingly. Avoid overly specialized jargon that would only be familiar to participants in a subfield. Make sure your prose is clear, logical, and straightforward. Though your proposal should maintain an academic tone, your enthusiasm for your project should shine through, though not at the cost of formality.

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Academic presentations: Conferences

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“... if you cannot stand up and present your findings, in one form or another, you will struggle to achieve the intellectual and professional success which will allow you to move on to even more interesting projects.” Lucinda Becker, Presenting Your Research: Conferences, Symposiums, Poster Presentations and Beyond

Research students are often asked to give presentations at academic conferences. This can be both terrifying and exciting in equal measures. This page gives some top tips on how to make sure your presentation stands out from the crowd and that you get the most from the experience.

Why give a conference presentation?

There are many, here are just a few:

feedback icon

To get feedback on your research that you can act upon to improve your final thesis or a future published paper. This can be absolutely invaluable in stopping you going off-track or forgetting to include important material.

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To make other academics want to read your finished thesis or a future published paper. Think of it as the trailer to the upcoming movie – it needs to be full of your most interesting material but leave them wanting to know more.

Handshake icon

To make contacts that are relevant to your research area . Never underestimate the importance of networking at any academic conference. You can even ask people working in related research to find you after your presentation.

Clapping hands icon

To get your name known in relevant academic circles . This is a real chance to showcase your work and gain a reputation within your field. With a good presentation you could get a reputation as a real expert in your field.

Basic structure of a conference presentation

In a conference presentation you need to choose an aspect of your research that can comfortably be conveyed to an audience in an interesting way within the timescale you are given. This is usually only about 20 minutes (with 10 minutes for questions) so resist the temptation to cover your entire PhD thesis. A useful simple structure is shown here.

As you can see, this still follows a simple story structure, with a  beginning , a  middle  and an  end  as covered on our  Structuring Presentations page ; it is, however, a little more research focused.  Depending on the conference type, you may choose to use one of the structures on the other page. What is most important is that the structure of your presentation is clear to the audience . You will only be one of many presentations and they can all start to blur in the audience's mind if you are not careful and clear.

1 Issue; 2 Approach; 3 Findings 4 Conclusions

Make your presentations visual

It is a temptation in a conference presentation, where you have a lot of information you want to get across, to fill the slides with text. Again, remember your presentation needs to stand out to be remembered so resist this temptation and make sure you use good visual slide design as covered on our Slide Design page . Using full sentences for your titles and visual content is vital for the quick levels of understanding that a conference environment requires.

Image with bullets points giving statistics of endangered mammals alongside image of the same figures shown as a pie chart with an iberian lynx sitting next to it

Finish with a flourish

Presenter with their most important point on the screen behind them, asking "Are there any questions or feedback".

The questions and feedback that you get at the end of a conference presentation is one of the most important reasons for attending. Make the most of this time. End with a slide that contains the most important point that you want the audience to take away and then specifically say "Thank you for your time, are there any questions or feedback?". Do not put another slide up at this point. That way your most important point stays on screen for longer than any other slide. By including a call for feedback at the end, rather than just asking for questions, you are more likely to get useful responses that can move you forward in your work.

Never EVER go over time

Presenter watching a very large clock

This is the cardinal sin of conferences. Some conferences will not let you go over time, and will cut you short (after a few warnings). This is also a problem as you lose your time for questions and feedback which is one of the main reasons for doing the presentation in the first place! Avoid going over time by making sure you practice it often and trim the slides if necessary. If you are using PowerPoint there is a tool called Rehearse Timings in the Slide Show menu which times you as you move through the presentation and tells you your overall duration. Just remember NOT to save the timings within the presentation or it will start automatically advancing your slides as you give the presentation which can have disastrous results.

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Webinar Cover PowerPoint Template

4 Speakers Sections for Webinar Invitation

The Webinar Cover PowerPoint Template is a collection of three slides to introduce an online event. These slides offer two, three, and four speakers’ introductions on one pager template. As part of business meetings, the webinar cover slide template helps invite the audience to the event. At the end of the session, the slide of the webinar invitation encourages the audience to learn more and engage with the company’s services. The PowerPoint slides of webinar covers provide simple layout designs to present all necessary information on one page. It includes the webinar title, date, speakers’ details, and RSVP section. The speakers’ images help attendees view the people who will instantly share their thoughts and ideas.

The cover slides of webinars are used for online conference presentations. People from all types and sizes of organizations use webinar slides as an ad for webinar promotion. Users can choose from the slides of two speakers, three speakers, and four speakers webinar covers. The editable PowerPoint template also lets users customers the placeholders according to more speakers. If you want to introduce 5 speakers of the webinar, copy and paste picture placeholders. Adjust or move the shapes and text boxes for a well-structured view of the webinar cover. Alternatively, you can download other webinar cover slide templates for PowerPoint and Google Slides to prepare your webinar sessions and introduce yourself.

The Webinar Cover PowerPoint Template is an online conference invitation presentation. The webinar invitations display information about the conference session in a professional manner. The SlideModel catalog offers a variety of webinar invitation templates you can choose from. Edit the critical information for attendees in creative and vibrant layouts. You can also share these pre-design webinar invitations on social media.

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Conference Paper Format and Style Guidelines

Matthieu Chartier, PhD.

Published on 23 Jun 2022

There are many different ways to write a conference paper. Most journals have their own requirements around specific length, document type, and the font details of pieces being submitted for publishing.

However, there are certain details that are commonly found in conference papers. Most are brief in length, attempting to explain complex concepts using simple, concise language. They typically include the article’s purpose and objectives, research methods, findings/results, conclusions, and references. 

The information covered in a conference paper is closely-related to the oral presentation that the author is hoping to make at an academic conference. These papers are often written in a format that will “match” the oral presentation with a goal to communicate a research project and its main findings, and to solicit feedback and generate interest in the work being done.

This article will define a conference research paper and describe its purpose, formats, structure and provide tips on how to write the best conference research paper possible. 

What is a conference research paper?

A conference research paper is a piece of writing that an author submits to conference organizers. The papers offer a preview of the work the researcher wants to present to let others in their field know about it and solicit feedback that could generate ideas for improvement.

Scientific papers

These papers are submitted for review in advance of the conference. This process begins with a call-for-papers, when a conference organizing committee sends out an invitation to academics in hopes of generating multiple submissions of content to be presented at their event. These invitations can be sent via email or posted to a conference announcement website. Then, the organizing committee conducts a thorough review process to confirm the legitimacy of the work being submitted. Then, the work is either approved or rejected, and those accepted become part of the conference programme and the authors are scheduled to present at the conference .

When the event concludes, these conference papers are combined into a conference proceedings document that is often published and kept as a written record of the event. 

What is the best conference paper format?

The most commonly used conference paper formats start with a title page and abstract and go on to describe the research being conducted and the methodology being used. Conference papers should be well-structured and concise, free of grammatical errors with references formatted based on requirements set out in the call-for-papers.

How to structure a conference paper

Conference papers should be structured around the prime objectives of the research being conducted and the summary of its findings. Most conference papers start by introducing the purpose of the research, the methodology, the results of the study, and references of the sources used. 

Here are the elements that are typically included in a conference paper: 

The title page

The title page is used to identify the main pieces of information needed in order to identify and evaluate a conference paper. It includes the title of the paper, which should clearly identify the focus of the research being presented. The title page should also include the author’s name, credentials, the research institution they’re affiliated with, the submission date, and the name of the conference for which the paper is being submitted. 

While the exact format that the conference is looking for should be described in the call-for-papers sent out by event organizers, you can find templates for conference paper title pages online. Here is one example of an APA style title page you can reference. 

The abstract

Conference papers begin with an abstract. An abstract is a short summary of the prime objective of your research, your hypothesis, the way you plan to conduct the study, the results, and the conclusions. Most abstracts are one or two paragraphs and kept under 250 words, but it’s not always the case so it’s best to check the guidelines provided by the conference organizers. 

The research methodology

In order for conference organizers to review and evaluate a conference paper, they must understand the methods used by the researcher to conduct the study being presented. Include a section in your paper that clearly (but briefly) describes your methodology, including any dominant theories that the methods are based on. 

The results

Clearly outline the results of the study, drawing data-driven conclusions. Present the insights uncovered by the research and how they can be used to advance your field of study. This will generate interest from other researchers in your field, potentially leading to partnerships or funding opportunities down the road. 

Your research results should take up about one-third of your conference paper, so for a 10-page paper, this section should be no longer than 3.5 pages. Whenever possible, display quantitative results in table format to make it easy for readers to understand. 

The references

Most conferences will clearly outline the type of references they expect in their call-for-papers or advertisement soliciting research submissions. Follow these guidelines to reference the work used to inform your research. 

Most events will request APA, MLA or Chicago-style formatting, but be prepared to reference any of the common formats. As a general rule, APA is most often used in education, psychology and sciences, MLA is used in the humanities, and Chicago style is used in business, history and fine arts. 

Tips to write a conference paper

1. focus on the abstract.

The abstract is the first thing academics look at when evaluating a piece of research. If your paper is accepted, you will be presenting your work to a group of your peers, and this abstract is their preview to the information that will be discussed. You’ll want to make it clear, concise, and interesting to read. 

This is also what conference organizers use to categorize different streams of work within the conference, so it’s important that your focus and subject matter is clearly defined and easy to determine. This will ensure you’re placed alongside researchers with a related field of study. 

Begin your abstract by defining the problem you hoped to solve when you began your research. Then, describe how you went about studying that problem before presenting your research findings and how they help solve the problem. 

2. Create a logical flow

Before you start writing, take some time to create an outline that follows a logical, cohesive flow of information. Review your research and determine the most important things you want to share in your presentation, and create your outline based on this list. An outline will help you stay focused and organized, and will make creating the abstract a breeze. 

In your outline, you should also plan to include data points that back up your conclusions to make your paper strong and convincing. 

3. Be careful of length

Look into the structure of the conference and find out the length of the presentations. This is usually stated in the conference posting, but if not, you can use the following guidelines. Most conferences allot 10-20 minutes for each oral presentation, and each page of writing takes about 2 minutes to read. Based on these numbers, a conference paper should not exceed 10 pages. 

4. Follow the format guidelines

Conference organizing committees will most of the time set specific guidelines for researchers to follow in their submissions. These guidelines will include the preferred file type (.doc, .rtf. .pdf etc), the font type and size, the spacing, where they want the page numbers, the length of the abstract, reference format, and more.

This simplifies the review process by allowing the reviewers to focus solely on the paper content, rather than having to decipher references or look for specific pieces of information.

5. Read it out loud

To keep your conference paper short, it’s important that every word counts. To keep your paper free of fluff and unnecessary words, read it out loud to yourself and remove or revise anything that isn’t optimal.

Reading out loud will also help you confirm that the information you’re presenting is organized into a logical flow that builds up support for your overall argument. Sometimes words look good typed out on a screen, but they don’t sound convincing or appropriate when spoken out loud. Since this paper is an overview of the research you hope to present in an oral presentation at a conference, it should sound convincing when you read it aloud. 

6. Write for your audience

Remember that you are writing for academic researchers who are knowledgeable in your field. 

Academic writing uses a more formal tone than a blog or news article. It is free of personal opinions or anecdotes, and does not include any jargon, cliches, or slang. Academic writing maintains a clear focus on the main area of research, and every sentence should resonate with your audience of researchers. 

Every piece of data used in a piece of academic writing should be backed-up with data. Researchers reviewing your work expect to be presented with data-driven insights that can be quantifiably verified. 

Reference everything. Not only does this add weight and legitimacy to your work, but it also shows respect for the researchers who came before you.  

Useful resources for conference papers

There are many resources available to help you write and format your conference papers. These are often free, and easily-accessible online. Here are a few to check out:

Overleaf is an online LaTeX editor that provides known journals and conference paper formats. It is a helpful resource but can be difficult for those that are not very technical. 

A friend to all writers, Grammarly provides free editing and grammar checks through a simple AI-powered platform available through the web or on your mobile device. There are free or paid versions available, depending on the level of functionality you’re looking for. 

Evernote can simplify and organize your research by making it easy to collect and share notes, and keep them with you wherever you go. 

Citationsy is a relatively new application that automates the process of creating and formatting references. This can be a significant time saver and remove one of the less exciting elements of academic writing.

If you’re at the stage in your research where you’re ready to write a conference paper and apply to present at an academic conference, congratulations! This means you have conducted a significant amount of research and are ready to share it with your peers.

We hope you’ve found this article a good resource to help you write this paper. If there are any tips or pieces of information that we’ve missed, please let us know .

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