International Research Group

on Wood Protection


Guidelines for Giving an Oral Presentation at an IRG Conference


1. Summary

1.1       Keep the presentation simple in both content and style. Put the emphasis on why the work is important and what your conclusions are. You do not need to go into the methods in any detail, unless it is a methodology paper.
1.2       Use clear plain fonts with a contrasting background.
1.3       Support your points with clear instructive visual aids such as computer PowerPoint projected slides.
1.4       If using PowerPoint, use compressed graphics such as jpeg to reduce file size, which should be less than 2 MB. Save the presentation to a USB Storage device. Save as a PowerPoint ‘show’ file (.pps file) or a PDF presentation. Save the presentation using the IRG/WP document number, author and title.
1.5       Give the clearly labelled (IRG/WP number, author, title and section) presentation to the Convener of your working party or to the audio visual team as soon as you arrive at the meeting or at designated times given at the meeting.
1.6       Speak clearly and slowly for non-native English speakers.
1.7       Be brief - You will normally have only 10 minutes and five minutes after for questions and discussion. Do not ’read’ your paper or give experimental detail – assume the audience has already read your paper and has these details. As a rule, one slide can be used per minute if explained clearly. So 10 slides is a good maximum guide.

2. Preparation

2.1       Structure your presentation to include:
2.1.1. A clear statement of the subject of the paper.
2.1.2. A very brief description of the approach and the results. Why you did the work and briefly mention previous related work.
2.1.3. Points of impact and importance.
2.1.4. A review of the conclusions.

3.       Visual Aids

3.1       Good visual aids are vital at IRGWP meetings; use PowerPoint slides that will be easy for your audience to understand. They will enhance your presentation.
3.2       Ensure the message is clear and understandable.
3.3       Basic Principle Limit the number of points in each slide.
3.4       Colour
3.4.1. Use colours to make the text easier to read. If the back-ground is black or a dark colour, use light colours for the text and vice versa.
3.5       Legibility
3.5.1. Check to see that you can read your slides presented on your computer screen form 2.5 m away, or if you can test on a screen, from the back of a large room. In PowerPoint, 40 is a good font size for titles, 30 for text and 26 probably about the smallest you can use.
3.6       Text
3.6.1. Use BIG AND BOLD easy to read letters. The text should be a summary of words and statements; maximum 1 to 3 points per slide.
3.7       Photos
3.7.1. Use them to tell a story and support the overall presentation
3.7.2. Only use them if they can be seen clearly and improve your presentation.
3.8       Graphs
3.8.1. Make them BIG, BOLD and SIMPLE.
3.9       Data
3.9.1. Avoid tables of data; consider a graph to summarise data.
3.9.2. If data tables are necessary, make them big and bold and simple.
3.9.3. NEVER photograph tables from a book or other text with normal print size.
3.9.4. Final Reminder: It is better not to use slides in your presentation at all than to use poor quality, illegible ones.
3.9.5. Self-evaluation of presentation        Remember that you will often have only 10 minutes for presentation at the conference. Allow sufficient time for discussion at the end of your talk (15 minutes total with 5 of these being for questions).     Practice the presentation orally using prepared notes or
cards, preferably in front of someone. This familiarises you with the sequence of the talk and helps to decide whether or not you fulfilled your intentions. Is your speaking voice slow and clear?  Critically evaluate the presentation:
-The introduction and conclusions are the most critical parts; know precisely what you will say about these.
-Were the major points adequately explained?
-Were the statements presented clearly and logically, with proper emphasis?

4.       Presentation

4.1             Hand in your PowerPoint file at the beginning of the meeting or at the specific time given at the meeting to do so. It should be properly labelled with IRG/WP number, (A list of document numbers will be provided in the list of documents which can be found on the website author, title and section.
4.2           Locate your section or working party convener at the beginning of the meeting. They will be pleased to meet you and will be able to confirm the time and place of your presentation as well as the time allowable for your presentation (if it is a main session paper or a key note paper, you will have been instructed ahead of time on any additional time).
4.3           Arrive at the meeting room early before your session (preferable at the start of the session or working party). There may have been a cancelation and so you maybe presenting sooner than you thought. Let your chairperson or convener know that you are present.
4.4   Be familiar with the operation of the projector, microphone and any other visual aids well before your presentation starts (e.g. the day before your session and out of allotted session times).
4.5      Avoid the use of brand names, organisation or company names and logos on slides and artwork, other than the title slide to show the affiliation of the author(s). Do not give a ‘sales pitch’. The presentation of a well structured and objective technical paper will do much to enhance your standing and that of your organisation.
4.6               Speak clearly and rather more slowly than normal. Remember a high
proportion of the audience are NOT native English speakers; do not use slang or colloquial expressions.
4.7       Do not use profane or crude language or poor humour.
4.8       Use blank slides where necessary. For those short parts of your presentation
when you are not using slides, we suggest you project a tinted blank slide. This will not distract your audience but will help you make a smooth presentation.

5. Questions and Discussion

5.1       Questions and discussion are an important part of the conference.
5.2       Repeat the question: people who ask questions may not have microphones. If they are in the front of the room, you will probably hear the question, but people in the back of the room will not. Some non-native English speakers may not have understood the question.
5.3       Answer the question that was asked. Be clear and be brief; there may be other questioners waiting for a chance to speak.
5.4       If you cannot readily answer the question, do not linger over it. Invite the questioner to confer with you after the session.


1. Detailed guidance in preparing Visual Aids

1.1       Always use horizontal format: Vertical slides will sometimes be lost because they will be partly off the screen.
1.2       A bold plain font such as Arial is much easier to read in a darkened room.
1.3       Graphical data should be bold. Use bold axis, data points and legends. A clear slide title will help. Use multiple slides rather than complicated figures. Highlight critical data where necessary.
1.4       Colour. Completely white backgrounds create a glare on the screen which is distracting and which tends to reduce legibility. When using PowerPoint, choose colour combinations carefully and view your selections before the meeting.
1.5       To judge the legibility of photographic copy, view it from a distance of at least six times its longer dimension. If the important details are legible at this
distance, they will also be legible when projected on the screen.
1.6       Make sure your slides communicate what you want to tell your audience. Material which is easily read is still wasted if there is too much information or if it is in a form which cannot be readily understood. Wherever possible, extract the pertinent information and present it in a dramatic manner such as a graph, bar chart or pie chart.
1.7       Make duplicate slides when necessary. If you will need to use a slide twice during your presentation, make a duplicate slide instead of trying to back up and find the first slide.
1.8       Your presentation visual aids should be given to the conference organizers at the notified time prior to your presentation (normally the day before).

2. PowerPoint

2.1       Use standard fonts only; the conference PC may not have extensive fonts loaded. This also applies to bullets, Word art, Clipart and other graphics. The Local Organising Committee will try to ensure that all equipment is compatible.
2.2       Avoid the over-use of animation.      This will improve the ease of understanding and compatibility with the computer equipment.
2.3       If photographs or micrographs are included, use a compressed file format such as jpeg or gif files. Do not use bitmap files. Note that PowerPoint, if using the ‘Import from library’ function, will tend to re-convert the file to its native format and resolution. This can result in extremely large file sizes if the presentation contains many photographs. Good presentation graphics can be obtained by using jpeg images with a compressed file size of 200 kb. Use the ‘Insert’ command and select the file directly from the directory in which it is stored (i.e. Insert, picture, from file). As a guide, a ten-photograph presentation with text should result in no more than a 2 MB file size.
2.4       At the meeting, your presentation will need to be transferred to the conference computer equipment. It will not be possible to use your own notebook PC for presentation purposes at IRGWP meetings. Save the file to a USB storage device.
2.5       Saving your presentation as a ‘PowerPoint Show’ or as a PDF can reduce the file size significantly. Also, saving as a ‘PowerPoint Show’ (.pps file) can save time when loading your presentation during the session.
2.6       Write the file in a standard data format and avoid the use of ‘packet writing’. Packet writing is the format used to ‘drag and drop’ files directly to the USB device.
2.7       Do not use other disk formats including ZIP files, as the relevant equipment will not be available to download the presentation to the conference equipment.

Save your document where possible as the IRG/WP document number that it has been allocated along with author and title. A list of document numbers will be provided in the list of documents which can be found on the website

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