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Southern California Conference for Undergraduate Research 2010

Presentation guidelines for students

Performances and Creative Displays

In addition to the traditional oral and poster research/scholarship presentations described below, we also encourage performing and visual arts presentations. These include music, dance, theater, drawing, painting, photography, sculpture, and video. Students and mentors interested in these disciplines and media should contact the conference organizers directly at to discuss possible presentation formats.

General Guidelines for Presenting Research and Scholarship

Research or scholarship at SCCUR conferences is presented either as a fifteen-minute oral presentation or as a poster presentation. You may choose one or the other (not both) as your preferred medium when you submit your abstract. A few general principles apply to all presented research.

  • Be organized. Know the clear and unifying point of your research/scholarship, and be able to communicate it to an audience.
  • Use the format of your academic discipline. Most research presentations in the sciences and some social sciences are organized with the following components: Abstract, Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion, Conclusion, and References. In other disciplines these components may be less formal, but all research should have an introduction, address a question or problem, and discuss or analyze the results of its inquiry. Consult with your faculty mentor concerning the proper form for your presentation.
  • Make your research as accessible as possible to a broad academic audience, without sacrificing its disciplinary rigor.
  • Anticipate possible questions. Take notes on questions and the names and addresses of the contacts you’ll make while discussing your work.
  • Rehearse your presentation in advance.
  • Credit all sources; be truthful; respect your audience.

Oral Presentations

Oral presentations are carefully prepared to be fifteen minutes long. They are presented as part of a panel of three or four presentations, usually addressing a common subject matter.

In the sciences and some social sciences, presentations are usually made from notes and are accompanied by visual materials such as tables, graphs, and photographs (most often in PowerPoint). In the humanities and some other social sciences, presentations are usually read aloud from a prepared text, sometimes with accompanying visual materials. Work with your faculty mentor to produce an oral presentation appropriate to your discipline.

Preparing and Presenting

  • Rehearse your presentation in advance with friends or family. Make sure that it is no more than fifteen minutes long. Ask your audience what they have learned to see if you're getting your point across.
  • Face your audience; speak slowly and clearly and project your voice to the back of the room. Whether you are working from notes, PowerPoint, or reading from a text, make eye contact with your audience as frequently as you can.
  • If you're speaking from notes, number them so that you won't lose your place, and remember the general outline of the points that you want to make and the order in which you'll make them. If you're reading, read slowly enough to understand what you're reading (at a rate of about two minutes per double-spaced page).
  • If you are using visual aids (e.g. PowerPoint), prepare them well in advance and make sure they are clear.
  • Keep words to a minimum on each PowerPoint slide; make sure they are readable from the back of the room. Words should be large enough to read from several feet away, but don’t use all caps. Avoid using light colors for words, such as yellow or orange. The size of the typeface should be at least 12 point.
  • Watch your audience response; if they seem lost, slow down.

Computer-aided Projection and Audio-visual Equipment

Pepperdine University will provide computers, projectors, and screens for students making PowerPoint presentations. PowerPoint is the only supported presentation software. All computers are PCs. Participants should not bring their own computers.

  • Students should bring presentations in a PC-compatible format, on an external USB memory drive.
  • Presentations prepared on a Mac must be rehearsed at least once in advance on a PC to ensure compatibility.
  • Presenters will also be provided with document projectors upon request, well in advance. Other media, such as overhead projectors, will be available upon advanced request.
  • All presenters must indicate clearly the equipment they will need when abstracts are initially submitted.

Participating in a Panel

A faculty moderator will chair your panel. He or she will introduce you and other presenters to the audience, describe the session's topic, keep time, and facilitate brief discussion following each presentation. It is essential that panels keep on schedule; moderators will stop presenters if they appear likely to run over their allotted time.

  • Arrive before the beginning of your session and stay for the duration. Sit at the front of the room. Don't arrive late or leave following your own presentation; this is discourteous to other presenters.
  • Check all support materials in advance (PowerPoint presentations, handouts, etc.) to avoid unnecessary delays in starting your presentation.
  • Have a backup plan in the event of equipment failure (for instance, if you are using PowerPoint, we recommend that you bring a paper hard copy of your presentation in the unlikely event of a total computer failure).
  • Listen to other panelists’ presentations and participate during the question and discussions that follow.

Poster Presentations

If you are displaying a poster, you will be given the specific location of your poster at registration. Posters are listed in alphabetical order by first author and assigned either to poster session I, II, or III.  Poster Session I is from 11:00 -12 noon, Poster Session II from 1:00 - 2:00 pm, and Poster Session III from 3:30 -4:30 pm. Please mount your poster at least 10 minutes before your assigned session and leave it up throughout the session.

During the poster session, stand to the side of your display so that you don’t block viewers. Prepare and practice a two-minute summary of your project. Often viewers ask for a synopsis of your ideas and findings. This time dialogue and exchange of ideas facilitates networking with interested viewers. It is important to speak and interact professionally. You will also receive insightful feedback and personal exposure during the poster session. Furthermore, you will enjoy interaction with other poster presenters during the alternate poster session (either Session I, II, or III).

Poster presentations should be no larger than 4 feet high by 6 feet long (4' X 6'). Note, posters are in a horizontal format so words, figures, pictures, and tables are approximatly eye level. Students using poster boards are advised to bring their own thumbtacks, although push pens will be provided: NO TAPE, VELCRO, GLUESTICKS, or other permanent fasteners should be used.

Space on a poster is limited, so pick wisely what to present. Your display should be self-explanatory and have a logical flow—others should be able to follow the order even if you are not present. Start with a rough draft of your design on paper, using graph paper or post-it notes to simulate sections.

Place your title at the top of the poster and make certain that the text is large (usually at least 2 inches in height) and clear. Use upper and lower case letters. All authors’ names and affiliations should appear directly blow the title, and should be about 25% smaller than the title. Include authors’ and co-authors’ first and last names. Include the name of faculty mentor (s). Incorporate appropriate graphics in your poster. Label or describe any charts, tables, figures, graphs, or photos that you use. A number and a short “caption” should identify each figure, table, chart, or photo. Edit, review, and spell check all the elements of your poster display.


  • Titles should be at least 2 inches high.
  • Don’t use more than two fonts. Instead use bold, italic and font size to set type differently. Times New Roman, Arial, and Garamond are suggested typefaces.
  • The body type for the main sections should be at least 20 points.
  • Words should be large enough to be easily read from 6 feet away; but don’t use all caps.
  • Stick to a color scheme that complements, contrasts, and gives continuity to your poster.
  • Be consistent with your white space between sections of text, figures and headings. White space should be ample so the poster doesn’t look crammed.