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Fakultät Sozialwissenschaften

Guideline for presentations

Speech, talk or presentation?

The three terms speech, talk and presentation sometimes lead to confusion, but in the university context there is hardly any difference between them and they are often used synonymously. Basically, it is about preparing a topic and presenting it to the other participants. The focus is on conveying information verbally, which can be supported by aids such as posters, diagrams or digital presentations.

General tips

The aim of the presentation should be to impart knowledge to those present. Therefore, the core message of the lecture must be clear and run through the presentation as a common thread. It is often useful to first structure the topic in the form of a mind map in order to gain an overview. Which aspects of the topic are important for the core message, and which are not? It is rarely possible to present a topic in its entirety in the form of a lecture, so irrelevant aspects should be left out in order to use the time available as effectively as possible. A logical structure is enormously important for a lecture, and a good outline forms the basis for this. Depending on the topic and length of the lecture, it can be useful to involve the audience with questions or tasks, but only if it is beneficial for the learning success of the other students. In longer lectures, it is helpful to summarise the content very briefly at the end of a section that is relevant for the rest of the lecture. The end of the presentation should be a short summary that highlights the core message.

Once the presentation is prepared, it needs to be rehearsed. Since the focus is on the spoken word, it should be easily understood by all present. Speak loudly, clearly and not too fast. Presentations often have a time limit, which should be used as much as possible without exceeding it. If in doubt, the presentation must be revised to meet the time limit. Practising" does not mean memorising the presentation word by word, as presentations benefit from naturalness, flexibility and interaction with the audience.

On the day of the presentation, it is advisable to be in the room 10-15 minutes before the start of the event. All necessary materials should be ready before the start of the event so that it can begin on time.

Visual support

It is common for a presentation to be visually supported, usually with the help of a Power Point presentation[1]. It is important that the focus is on the lecture and not on the media support and that the lecture would be comprehensible and meaningful without it. In addition to digital media, posters, photographs and objects can also serve as visual support for the lecture. Since digital presentations are used in the vast majority of cases, here are some tips for creating Power Point presentations:

  • Title page with the following information:
    • Name(s) and matriculation number(s) of the person(s) giving the presentation.
    • Title of the presentation
    • Course, name of lecturer, semester, university
  • Good contrast between background and font colour
  • Use large font sizes (~40+) so that the presentation is easy to read
  • Use visual effects only if they are appropriate
  • Use bright colours sparingly to emphasise central points
  • As a rule of thumb, the presentation should not have more slides (in terms of content) than the length of the presentation in minutes. This is an upper limit, not a target!
  • Use bullet points and not complete sentences.
    • Exception: important, verbatim quotations
  • 4-6 bullet points per slide should not be exceeded
  • Use gender-appropriate language, if this is not possible use the gender star (e.g. staff members)
  • Images and graphics should only be used if they are explicitly addressed and explained in the presentation.
  • Images and graphics should be labelled and numbered
  • List the sources in the list of figures in the order in which they were used in the presentation.
  • All sources that have been used must be listed in the bibliography. A citation according to APA guidelines (7th edition) is recommended. A detailed description can be found in our guidelines for seminar papers in section 3.
  • Technical problems often lead to presentations not being shown. The compatibility between laptop and beamer should be tested beforehand. Alternatively, the presentation can be accessed on the lecturer's laptop by arrangement, but the presentation must be submitted in good time and in a suitable format for this purpose. Consultation is essential here!

[1] This refers to any form of digital presentation, regardless of the software used.