Guide to preparing your presentation



The classroom is set up with a Windows computer that you can log into using your University (not DICE!) account. If you want to use the classroom computer, you should bring your Presentation on a USB stick, and ensure it is in PDF format, since using PowerPoint on a computer other than the one it was created on is always risky. We would recommend bringing your own laptop as this is usually easier, faster, and more reliable (but make sure you have a power cord). In either case:


Presentations should include:

Good presentations will also normally include examples, figures, or diagrams to illustrate important concepts or results.

NOTE: 35 minutes is not a long time for two papers! You will need to decide how much detail is appropriate, and which information is most important. Please do not try to present everything from both papers. Remember, all students in the class should have read at least one paper on a similar topic, normally one of the two presented. Prepare your background material with this in mind.


Part of your mark will be based on your delivery. If you wish to do well on this part of the assignment, one word will tell you how: practice! Practicing your presentation out loud will not only help you figure out how long it will take, but will also make you more confident and will allow you to work out how to explain difficult concepts ahead of time. See the marking sheet for the criteria we will be using to assess your delivery. Since you already have a group to work with, you would do well to use the other students in your group as a practice audience and give each other feedback on delivery.

Having a well-organized talk is a very good start to keeping your audience engaged and your message understood, but it's important to understand that people have limited memory and attention. That means they will not remember everything you said in the beginning of your talk by the end (or even the middle). You need to help them out by providing verbal cues (rarely, if ever, are bullets needed!) reminding them what you have already told them, what's coming up, and how everything fits together. I've heard these referred to as "signposts". Examples include: "OK, so that's the overview of the system, now I will talk about each of those parts in more detail", "I've now explained how they use X and Y to produce Z. Remember that what they are going to do with Z is A, so I'll now give you some more detail about that.", "I'm not going to talk about this part of the paper in any detail, but if you have questions about it I can answer them in the discussion after the presentation." In other words, think about your transitions, not just your slides. It is also often a good idea to include actual summary slides after each major section of your presentation, recapping the main points before moving on. You should not need more than one or two of these.

Audio-visual aids

You will also receive a mark for your use of audio-visual aids (slides, whiteboard, or any additional media). Here are some tips on appropriate use of these tools:



Tips to avoid common mistakes

The following list of pointers is intended to help avoid common pitfalls in presentations.

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