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RESOURCES: Paper Presentations

Paper Presentations
The oral presentation of research at a conference is usually a relatively short amount of time (e.g., 1012 minutes). Check with the chair of your session for information regarding the availability of presentation technology. In preparing your talk, it is recommended that you:

  • Decide on a limited number of the significant ideas that you want your audience to code, comprehend, and remember.
  • Minimize details of procedure, data analysis, and literature review when highlighting the main ideas you want to transmit.
  • State clearly in simple, jargon-free terms what the point of the research is, what you discovered, and what you think it means—its conceptual, methodological, or practical value.
  • Employ some redundancy in repeating important ideas to enhance comprehension and recall.
  • Write out your presentation as a mini-lecture (with a listening audience in mind), starting with an outline that you expand into a narrative.
  • Practice delivering it aloud in order to learn it well, to make its length fit in the time allocated, and to hear how it sounds.
  • Get feedback from tape-recorded replay of your delivery and critical colleagues.
  • Do not read your paper. Speak your ideas directly to your audience, referring—if necessary only—to an outline of key points and transitions.
  • Try to speak loud enough, clear enough, and with sufficient enthusiasm to hold the attention of your audience despite distractions (internal and external).
  • If using presentation software, it is recommended that you prepare a few basic slides with a limited amount of information. Managing when and how information appears can enhance your presentation.
  • State your final conclusions and end on time.

Recognize the constraints imposed on your presentation:

  • The short time of only about 12 minutes with an additional 3 minutes for questions (Note: Check your convention websites in the right sidebar for a specific timeline.)
  • The limits on attention and comprehension of your audience members, who are listening to (not reading) many presentations each day, some of whom are outside their area of expertise
  • The context of the session in which people may enter and leave at any time, causing distractions and a less-than-ideal listening/learning situation
  • The size and shape of the room may make slides difficult to see. Make sure to prepare easy-to-read slides with limited information.

You should have 25 or more copies of a printed version of your paper available for distribution with the details of the research and/or a sign-up sheet for interested people to request the paper. On the paper, be sure to include your identification with contact information, the convention source reference including the date and location, and whether it may be quoted.

These updated guidelines for delivering presentations were originally prepared by the Western Psychological Association to help first-time presenters get ready for the big day of presentation. The recommendations are based on the experience of colleagues, both those pleased by the privilege of listening to well-delivered presentations and those distressed by having heard too many poor ones. It is recommended that paper presenters using a Microsoft PowerPoint® presentation bring their own laptop and arrive early to their session to work out technical difficulties.

Related Psi Chi Articles

Five Things to Avoid When Planning Your First Conference Speech

Creating an Effective Conference Presentation

Graduate and Undergraduate Research: Great Presentations

View additional "Promotion of Research" articles.

Attending at Presenting at Conventions

Tips for Attending Conventions
Your Poster Checklist, Templates, and Samples
Paper Presentations


Convention Presentation Deadlines/Specifications

APA: Call for Convention Proposals
APS: Frequently Asked Questions
EPA: Some Useful Tips for Students Attending EPA
MPA: Instructions for Papers and Posters
NEPA: NEPA Call for Papers
RMPA: Submitting
SEPA: Poster Prep
SWPA: Presenters’ Information
WPA: Student Convention Guide/Poster Design



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