Human Kinetics

Introduction to oral presentations

Oral presentations give you the opportunity to share complex information with an audience simply and clearly. By the end of the presentation your audience should understand the purpose of your work (the So What question), as well as the research that led you from your question to your conclusion.

Read this guide from Trent University for an overview of preparing and delivering oral presentations.

Creating visual aids for presentations

When you're presenting orally, it can be helpful to have visual aids. This allows your audience to absorb information in multiple ways, and allows you to highlight main points while providing further detail or broader discussion.

What audiences do and don't like in presentation slides

Don't like

  • Too many words on a slide
  • Clip art
  • Movement (slide transitions or word animations)
  • Templates with too many colors

Do like

  • Graphs increase understanding of content
  • Bulleted lists help them organize ideas
  • PowerPoint can help to structure lectures
  • Verbal explanations of pictures/graphs help more than written clarifications

How to maximize audience learning

Create your presentation around the following characteristics, and your audience will learn more with less effort:

  • Material is presented in short phrases rather than full paragraphs.
  • The presenter talks about the information on the slide rather than having students read it on their own.
  • Relevant pictures are used. Irrelevant pictures decrease learning compared to PowerPoint slides with no picture


Explore this guide to making better slide presentations from Vanderbilt University. The observations about audience preferences was drawn from this resource, and it holds additional guidance around good and bad presentations.

Presenting scientific information

It can be difficult to present detailed scientific information in a clear and simple manner. Some key things to keep in mind are:

  • make it big
  • use contrasting colours
  • choose simple (san serif) fonts
  • make it readable (if you can't read the whole figure from across the room, alter your figure)

This guide from Online Scientist outlines good design principles for scientific slides. Although the content is focussed on primary research rather than information-based research, the concepts are applicable to all information-heavy presentations.