Presentation Design & Communication

Page Contents

  1. Delivery
  2. Slide Design

In CSC 492, you are required to make at least one oral technical presentation. Over the years, we have found that certain elements of style in these types of presentations work better than others. Here are some things that we suggest on a regular basis to our students.


  • Remember to introduce yourself and members of your team. If your sponsor attends a presentation, it is good form to introduce him or her to your audience as well.
  • Do not read your slides to your audience. The text on your slides should serve only as an outline or guideline of the content that you present.
  • Keep thumbs out of pockets! Using your hands to gesture during a presentation can help emphasize points and convey energy, so always keep them available for use!
  • Filler words such as “ah” and “um” can be difficult for speakers to hear themselves say. If you know, however, that you have a tendency to use these filler words, try this: when preparing for your presentation, practice it out loud and take the time and make the effort to really listen for filler words. When a speaker becomes more aware of extra words, they are then able to get rid of them!
  • Be careful with your enunciation. Be sure to pronounce consonants and try to stay away from an informal conversational style that includes incomplete word usage such as “goin’” or “doin’”.
  • Try not to talk too fast during presentations because your audience will lose many of your words. We appreciate enthusiasm about your project, however, so try not to sacrifice energy when slowing down!
  • Remember to scan the audience with your eyes. Try not to stare at one area of the room while speaking – when doing this, a presenter will often lose much of an audience because they do not connect with them.
  • Do not clench your jaw and talk through your teeth. Relax your muscles – especially your facial muscles – so that the enunciation of your words will improve. Relaxing will also allow you to move your body more freely – this will help you to convey more energy to your audience.
  • Try not to constantly look back at the screen while speaking. Looking out will allow you to better connect with those who are listening to you. When you need information from the screen, gently glance back and then speak out to your audience. Try not to turn to the side – this will block the view of the screen for some members of the audience.
  • Be careful that you do not include extraneous movements in your presentations, such as prolonged scratching, holding or swinging your arms, crossing your legs, clicking pens, snapping note cards, wiping your nose, and clapping your hands.
  • If you have a cold or if your throat tends to get dry when you present or get nervous, feel free to bring water with you when presenting. A cup is better than a disposable water bottle, as it is less likely to make noise.
  • Try not to let the volume of your voice trail off at the end of your sentences. It can take quite a bit of energy to maintain a reasonable volume throughout the course of a presentation, especially if this is unnatural for you, but please try!
  • Ask a teammate to serve as your clicker and then practice together.
  • Do not go over the time limit given for the presentation. Highlight important events, decisions, and progress. Do not go too far under the time limit, either! There are always significant issues or ideas for you to tell us about.
  • Run a spell check on entire presentation, but also edit appropriately because spell check does not always catch all the details.

Slide Design

  • When slides are too wordy and need to be read, the audience oftentimes must unfocus their attention from the speaker, hence it becomes difficult to listen and follow them. Remember to use the phrases on your slides as launching pads into a discussion. Know the material well enough so that all you need is a few reminders.
  • A sans-serif font works well for presentations – it gives a streamlined look and facilitates reading the slides on a screen.
  • Make sure that all text – whether in the body of the slide or in figures and diagrams – is at a size that can be easily read by the audience.
  • Remember to include Introductory and Concluding slides.
  • Animation should support the message you are attempting to convey. Most diagrams lend themselves to use of animation to incrementally introduce pieces over time.Too much can be distracting, however, so try to strike a balance when using animations – play with it to see what you can do.
  • Use an appropriate weight or thickness for lines and arrows so that they can be easily seen.
  • Be careful with the color that you choose for lettering, making sure that the words do not blend in with the color of the background.