Adapted from “Western Psychological Association Convention
Instructions for Delivering Presentations,” Eye on Psi
Chi, Winter, 1998, pp. 35, 42. Reprinted with permission
of Psi Chi Honor Society.
These guidelines do not address the quality of the idea being
presented, but focuses on what can be done in the preparation
and delivery stages of a talk to enhance its audience appeal
by making it more comprehensible, interesting, and memorable.
The oral presentation of a paper is usually limited to a
12-minute presentation of your research. Speakers should rely
on handouts for all supplemental materials; however, either
a 35-mm slide projector or an overhead projector for transparencies
may be available during the presentation.
Recognize the constraints imposed on your presentation:
1. The short time of only 12 minutes (with an additional
3 minutes for questions).
2. The limits on attention and comprehension of your
audience members who are listening to many presentations
each day, some of which are outside their area of expertise.
3. The context of the session in which people may
enter and leave at any time causing distractions and a less-than-ideal
Therefore, it is recommended that in preparing your talk
1. Decide on a limited number of the significant ideas
you want your audience to code, comprehend, and remember.
2. Minimize details (of procedure, data analysis,
and literature review) when highlighting the main ideas
you want to transmit.
3. State clearly in simple, jargon-free terms what
the point of the research is, what you discovered, and what
you think it means—its conceptual, methodological, or practical
4. Employ some redundancy in repeating important ideas
to enhance comprehension and recall.
5. Write out your presentation as a mini-lecture (with
a listening audience in mind), starting with an outline
that you expand into a narrative.
6. Practice delivering it aloud in order to learn
it well, to make its length fit in the time allocated, and
to hear how it sounds.
7. Get feedback both from tape-recorded replay of
your delivery and from critical colleagues who listen to
8. Do not read your paper. Speak your ideas directly
to your audience, referring—if necessary only—to an outline
of key points and transitions.
9. Try to speak loud enough, clear enough, and with
sufficient enthusiasm to hold the attention of your audience.
10. State your final conclusions and end on time.
You should have available for distribution, copies of a printed
version of your paper with the details of the research (about
25 or more) and/or a sign-up sheet on which interested people
can request the paper. Be sure to indicate on the paper your
identification, the conference source reference, and whether
or not it may be quoted.
It is an honor to have the opportunity of being in the spotlight
with an audience of peers giving you their time and attention.
You have an obligation to them (and to your profession) to
use that occasion wisely and well.