Connecting students to knowledge
and its application
Southern Utah University
Lynn White, Ph.D.
Oral Thesis Proposal
Powerpoint Slide tips
To defend your research proposal, you will need an eye-popping, well-organized powerpoint presentation AND a well-prepared story to go with it. Aesthetics and content are both important. As far as content goes, you need to demonstrate; advanced knowledge of the research field, a keen understanding of your study's niche, the what, why and how of your methods, and your statistical plan. Piece of cake, right?
1. Keep text to a minimum.
Have 3-4 short bullet points per slide. These replace the need for cue cards and help your audience to stay
focused. You might want to have each bullet point appear one at a time, on your cue.
2. Use bold, pleasing colors that contrast well.
Make sure the text will be easy to see. Plan on presenting in a room that's brighter than what you would like.
3. Make sure the text is large enough.
Choose a font that's easy to read and be consistent with font sizes for headings and bullet points
4. Include eye-candy.
Figures, graphs, clipart, pictures should be awesome to look at, but not distract people from the content of
5. Use transitions and animations wisely.
If these are too salient and/or too frequent, they can become nauseating. Do not use the automatic slide
advance function. If your timing is off, you're screwed.
Oral Presentation Tips
1. Practice, practice, practice.
If you find yourself saying "ummm" a lot or blanking-out, you haven't practiced enough. You should practice
several times a day for at least 3 days. This will also help you solidify your speeking speed to a moderate
2. Don't read!
This tells people that you do not know your material. Also, most people read in such a way as to put their
audience to sleep.
3. Be animated and excited, but not manic.
If you are excited about your research, so too will be your audience. Also, if you re-interpret
anxiety/nervousness as excitement and enthusiasm, your nerves will come down.
4. Don't assume - explain.
Quite likely, there will be people in the audience with little to no knowledge on your topic. Do not alienate
these people. If you want to impress people by how intelligent you are, do it by delivering a clear,
well-organized, understandable presentation.
5. Do not present too much or too detailed information.
People have a limited attention span and memory. They will "give up" or simply get lost if you overtax them.
6. Face your audience, not the screen.
Use a lazer pointer to draw people's attention to various elements on the slide.
7. Start with a bang!
The first minute should immediately grab your audience. Be creative. Is there a audioclip, video, or story you
can use enthrall your audience?
8. Leave time for Q and A
9. Respect your audience and don't BS them.
If you don't know the answer to a question, say so. Thank the person for the question and let them know that
you will do what you can to find out the answer.
10. Relax and be proud of your accomplishments.
Sharing ideas and research findings is a critical component to the advancement of science. And that's
what you are doing. You should be proud!