ARTT Center of Excellence UT Health San Antonio




Behavior, Biology, and Chemistry:
Translational Research in Addiction

Presentation Tips



  • Clear Purpose
    An effective image should have a main point and not be just a collection of available data. Central theme of the image should be readily identified.
  • Readily Understood
    The main point should catch the attention of the audience immediately.  Audience is not paying attention to the speaker when trying to figure out the image - minimize this.
  • Simple Format
    With a simple, uncluttered format, the image is easy to design and directs audience attention to the main point.
  • Free of Nonessential Information
    If information doesn't directly support the main point of the image, reserve this content for questions.
  • Digestible
    Excess information can confuse the audience. With an average of seven images in a 10-minute paper, roughly one minute is available per image. Restrict information to what is extemporaneously explainable to the uninitiated in the allowed length of time - reading prepared text quickly is a poor substitute for editing.
  • Unified
    An image is most effective when information is organized around a single central theme and tells a unified story.
  • Graphic Format
    Use graphs to emphasize qualitative relationships "Drug X dose-dependently and markedly increased behavior".  Avoid presenting data in Tables. 
  • Designed for the Current Oral Paper
    Avoid extraneous information; show evidence and conclusions directly related to the subject of the paper; it is not necessary to communicate how much work was done.
  • Experimental
    In a 15-min presentation, there is not enough time to teach methods. Only mention what is necessary to develop the theme.
  • Visual Contrast
    Contrasts in brightness and tone between illustrations and backgrounds improves legibility. The best color combinations include white letters on black or black on yellow. Never use black letters on a dark background. Many people are red/green color blind - avoid using red and green next to each other.
  • Integrated with Verbal Text
    Images should support the verbal text and not merely display numbers. Conversely, verbal text should lay a proper foundation for each image. As each image is shown, give the audience a brief opportunity to become oriented before proceeding.
  • Clear Train of Thought
    Ideas developed in the paper and supported by the images should flow smoothly in a logical sequence, without wandering to irrelevant asides or bogging down in detail. Everything presented verbally or visually should have a clear role supporting the paper's central thesis.

If using PowerPoint, consider the following:

  • Use standard fonts, such as Times, Helvetica, or Arial and Symbol. Space is lost and the amount of information per slide is reduced by repeating graphics (including logos), busy backgrounds, and decorative typefaces.
  • Enhance the legibility of text and diagrams by maintaining color and intensity contrast. Use white or light yellow text and lines on black backgrounds, and/or use black on white or clear backgrounds.  Avoid using colors that do not provide enough contrast red or dark green on blue, and avoid yellow on white.
  • Test your completed presentation on a separate PC-compatible computer to ensure that fonts are standard and components, such as movies, have been included rather than merely linked.


BBC poster dimensions – height not to exceed 48 inches and width not to exceed 70 inches (42” x 68” is ideal)
An effective poster is self-contained and self-explanatory. Viewers can proceed on their own while leaving the author free to discuss points raised in inquiry. The poster session offers a more intimate forum for discussion than a slide-based presentation, but discussion becomes difficult if the author must explain the poster to a succession of viewers.  Time spent at a poster presentation is not determined by the author, but by the viewer – be prepared for 3 min or less. An effective poster balances figures and text and is not a page-by-page printout of a journal paper or a slide show. 

  • Minimize text! 
    Put yourself in the viewers’ shoes – how much text are you willing to read?
  • Layout
    Organize illustrations and text using a grid plan. Arrange materials in columns rather than rows.  Place the most significant findings at eye level immediately below the title bar; place supporting data and/or text in the lower panels.  Use line borders to separate areas. Avoid reflective, plastic-coated paper.  Use muted background colors - shades of gray are also effective.
  • Title
    Title, author(s), and affiliation should be at least one-inch high.
  • Illustrations
    design figures for viewing from a distance and use clear, visible graphics and large type. Colors are effective if used sparingly; use dark colors on white or pale backgrounds and light colors on dark backgrounds. Figures should illustrate no more than one or two major points. However, simple figures are unnecessary. Make clear main points.  Illustration sequences can be specified with numbers or letters.  Omit "Fig." or "Figure" - this is unnecessary and occupies excess space.
  • Text
    Each figure or table should have a heading of one or two lines in very large type stating the "take-home" message. Provide additional essential information in the figure itself set in 16 point or larger type.  Minimize narrative.  Integrate text that would normally appear in the body (Results and Discussion) of a manuscript in figure legends. Concisely describe not only the content of the figure, but also the derived conclusions. Place brief details of methodology at the end of each legend.  Numbered or bulleted lists are effective ways to convey a series of points, even for Introduction and Discussion. Do not set entire paragraphs in uppercase (all capitals) or boldface type.
    Place an introduction at the upper left and a conclusion at the lower right, both in large type. The abstract should not be included.



Tips for oral and poster presentations


Funding for this conference is made possible [in part] by R13 DA029347 from The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). The views expressed in written conference materials or publications and by speakers and moderators do not necessarily reflect the official policies of the Department of Health and Human Services; nor does mention of trade names, commercial practices, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.