Presentation Checklist

Some DOs and DON’Ts for your scientific presentation. This checklist is based on the one from the previous SCG Group led by Prof. Oscar Nierstrasz. It’s still valid, so we basically keep it..


  • Start by describing a problem; you can be innovative here, some use stories, some pose questions and so on. It’s contextual and subjective, but bottom line you start with a problem!
  • Tell why this problem is relevant and thus important/interesting to investigate.
  • Tell how you solved the problem. For sure, some problems are complex, so we do not always expect full solutions; but even getting a better understanding of the problem is a first stepping stone towards a possible solution.
  • You may want to give an outlook; what’s next?
  • Cross-cutting: Try to provide the necessary context to understand your problem and solution; anticipate the background knowledge of your audience. Not always easy, but think about it..

Organization and style

  • For short presentations you can usually avoid the outline slide. If you think it is indeed important, then try not to start your presentation with this slide. In such cases, you can first describe the problem, tell why this problem is important/interesting and then before explaining your solution, you can tell the outline of what audience can expect
  • Avoid using extensive and funky animations, they are hard to navigate backwards and can break the flow. In case you really want to use animations, a simple appear or disappear animations are good choice
  • Do not forget to include page numbers, they help the audience to point out a specific slide.
  • Choose titles of the slides wisely; through your presentation you are telling your audience a story
  • You may want to explore other presentation programs than Powerpoint such as Prezi. Certain types of presentations (which do not have a strict linear story to tell, but are rather discrete pieces of work, information) go well with Prezi and helps you to think in a non-liner way to convey message effectively


  • If possible, use good quality images in your presentation
  • If it’s a diagram with multiple components each of which needs explanation, then avoid displaying the entire diagram at once. Instead, present each component at a time and build a diagram sequentially
  • If you are using images/photos from the web, check copyrights. It is usually good to cite the source of the image

Fonts and text

  • Avoid writing complete sentences
  • 5-7 bullet points per slide are okay, more than that makes slides crowded
  • There might be exceptions to the two rules above, but think about them carefully
  • Avoid red/green, blue/violet colours. They are not suitable for colour blind people

Tables and charts

  • Do not snap tables directly from a paper. Instead draw them fresh in your presentation program
  • Be careful with the number of columns, too much information can be confusing
  • Be careful with the font size of the table content, at least if you want the audience to read the table contents
  • Make sure to explain different axes, legends, etc.
  • Be careful with the font size of the charts as well

Live demos

  • Demos are always helpful to positively convey your work
  • If you are showing code in IDE, then make sure to change the font size of the IDE. It should be big enough to be visible to everybody
  • Do not point a finger at your laptop to explain a code snippet, your audience can not see what you are seeing on the laptop screen
  • Prepare a video of a live demo as a backup in case something goes wrong on the presentation day

On the presentation day

  • Make sure you try connecting your laptop to the projector to see everything works fine
  • Avoid standing in front of the screen, that way you might be blocking the view of people either sitting to the right or to the left
  • Do not show your back to the audience
  • Do not fold your hands
  • Use the word challenge instead of problem, that’s more positive
  • No chewing gum, no cool slang
  • Look at your audience and not only to your supervisor
  • Practice presentation at least once to avoid issues like running out of time
  • Make use of bluetooth remote to change slides, try not to stick to laptop, be flexible
  • Keep water nearby
  • Remember, a good presentation can change your or someone’s life, it’s your moment to shine. Do not waste it!