1. If you had time to do only one thing, I would tell you to practice. Practicing your presentation makes a world of difference, it helps you avoid running over the time limit (or too much under it, for that matter.) For a 10 minute presentation, I would advise practicing at least twice before presenting. Also, look at your audience more than you look at your slides. A technique that you can use to make the audience feel more engaged is to divide the room into roughly three parts, a left, center, and middle third. When you speak, alternate between looking at these sections. But make sure not to switch too fast, about three seconds per section is long enough to make people feel like you are having a conversation with them, but short enough so it doesn’t seem weird.
  2. Remember to not speak too fast - about 150-200 words per minute is a good rule of thumb.
  3. Don’t have too many slides - for a 10 minute presentation, I would make between 5 and 10 slides.
  4. Make sure to minimize the amount of text on the slide. The audience is here to hear you talk - if they wanted to read a book, they would have done that instead. As a rule of thumb, no more than ten words per slide. Instead, use visual aids to illustrate your point - pictures of your apparatus, graphs with large axis labels, etc. If you spend 80% of your time practicing, spend 20% on not making the presentation an eyesore. Use high-resolution vector graphics and sans-serif fonts. Try to not cram too much stuff on a slide. On a Mac, use Keynote to make your presentation, and use LaTeXit to typeset the equations. The animations are nice, but you will probably not have a chance to use them because most conference computers run Windows. So export your presentation to a PDF format and use that.
  5. If you use images from elsewhere, make sure to cite the sources.
  6. Make sure to know your error estimation method thoroughly - you should be able to explain what you did clearly and concisely.
  7. A logistical thing you can do to make everyone’s lives easier - email your professor/TA with your presentation so that they can put it on the computer before class. Or arrive 10 minutes early with your presentation on a flash drive so you can pre-load it on the computer. This will be very much appreciated.

Sample presentations