ACM SIGMOD/PODS 2005 Conference

Baltimore, Maryland

June 13-16,2005


Tips for Conference Paper Presentations

Presentation Logistics | Tips for Good Conference Talk


One author of each accepted paper will present a 25-minute talk in the alloted slot. (This applies to both SIGMOD and PODS speakers.) Some hints on giving a successful conference talk are provided below.

Presentation logistics

  • As a default, each speaker will use their own laptop hooked to a projector provided in the presentation room. Extra laptops will be available if necessary -- please bring your talk on a USB key or (less preferable) CD if you don't have a laptop. The speakers in a session may decide to coordinate and use one laptop for continuity, however the default is that each speaker will provide and use their own laptop.

  • If you are planning on using one of the on-site laptops, you wil not be able to add software to the laptops. The machines will have PowerPoint software on them. If you have other requirements, please plan on bringing your own laptop.

  • There is no internet access in the presentation rooms, except in the room that will be used for demonstrations.

  • Please arrive in your presentation room 10-15 minutes in advance, to familiarize yourself with the room and the set-up, and to test your slides. When your session chair arrives, please introduce yourself.

Tips for a good conference talk

  • Plan very carefully what you can cover in the allotted time. You have 25 minutes, and a conscientious session chair will ruthlessly cut you off if you attempt to exceed that limit.

  • Design your slides with a large room and audience in mind. Use large fonts so your slides are visible from far away. As a general principle, don't put too much on each slide.

  • Given the time limit there's simply no way you can present all the results in your paper, so don't even try. Think of your talk as an advertisement -- your goal is to entice the audience into wanting to read your paper. Motivate the problem; describe your overall approach and your major results. If your work includes experiments, pick a representative graph or two.

  • Don't put everything you want to say on your slides and then read them during your talk. You will captivate your audience by forcing them to listen to you, looking at the slides only for cues and diagrams.

  • Keep your examples simple, emphasizing the main points, and give the audience enough time to digest each example.

  • It is strongly recommended that you practice your talk several times, especially if you haven't given many conference talks in the past. Time your runs; get your friends to listen and criticize.

  • If you are not a native English speaker, make an effort to speak slowly and clearly enough for a large audience to understand you. Even if you are a native speaker, you will need to speak loudly and clearly.

  • Position yourself carefully with respect to the screen -- be sure not to block the audience's view.

  • During the question & answer session at the end of your talk, be sure that your audience knows what question you are answering -- repeat a question if not everyone was able to hear it. It's often a good idea to repeat questions regardless, to make sure you have them right and to give yourself a moment to think.

  • Most of all, have fun, and remember -- your talk serves as an advertisement for your work and your paper.

- Written by Jennifer Widom , SIGMOD'05 Program Committee Chair
- The original tips are also immortalized at this link