- Creating the Presentation
- Giving the Presentation
Welcome to ICMB XI! Whether you are a repeat presenter or this is your first presentation at a professional conference, thank you for sharing your research with us. We are eager to hear about your work and this guide is meant to help you ensure it reaches the whole audience.
We are committed to ensuring full participation is accessible to all presenters. If you need any accommodations for presenting, please contact us as soon as possible.
We encourage all presenters to be open to diversity in your audience. Be aware that some of your audience might not be able to:
- see well, or at all,
- hear well, or at all,
- move well, or at all,
- speak well, or at all, or
- understand information presented in some ways well, or at all.
Creating the Presentation
For oral presentations:
- Speakers are allotted 15 minutes total. Time limits will be strictly enforced.
- Aim to speak for no longer than 12 minutes, to allow at least 3 minutes for audience questions.
- Oral presentation slide decks should be saved as PowerPoint (PPT, PPTX) or PDF files.
- If saving your slide deck as a PowerPoint file, be sure to embed your fonts.
- ICMB XI will provide all poster presenters with numbered spaces and thumbtacks for hanging their posters.
- Poster board spaces are approximately 45 in (114 cm) square. Posters should be sized to fit within that space, and can have either a landscape (horizontal) or portrait (vertical) orientation.
- We recommend designing your poster to measure 42 in × 36 in (1067 mm × 914 mm), or to fit A0 (1189 mm × 841 mm) or B1 (1000 mm × 707 mm) paper.
- Don't miss the helpful poster design tips in the resources section on this page!
Make text and important visuals big enough to be readable from the back of the room
- For slide decks and posters, no body text should be smaller than 24 points.
- Pay special attention to axis labels and legends on plots, which often need to be scaled up significantly to meet this minimum.
- See the resources section for more detailed type size requirements.
Use an easy-to-read font
- Simple fonts with consistent thickness are often easier to read from a distance. Choose templates or themes that feature sans serif fonts with high legibility.
- Avoid fonts whose letter shapes have a strong contrast between thick and thin parts, or fancy fonts with ornate letter shapes.
- Do not use more than two different font families in a single slide deck or poster.
- Favor font families with several combinations of weight and style so you can clearly represent content hierarchy without adding the visual complexity of multiple font designs.
- If you use two different font families, be consistent: one for titles and headings, one for body text and captions.
- See the resources section for a short list of suggested fonts.
Use sufficient white space
- Even a highly legible font will become difficult to read if the text is crowded. Adjust spacing between lines and paragraphs, since software defaults are usually too cramped.
- Leave more space around the text or figures you want to emphasize the most.
Use sufficient contrast between colors
- Check the contrast between your text color and background color, and between any colors used in plots.
- Choose "colorblind safe" palettes for plots, with colors that are distinguishable to people with color vision deficiency (CVD).
- Keep in mind that slide projection equipment can wash out colors, or distort specific colors. For posters, colors that appear vibrant on screen may not be reproducible with printer inks, becoming muddier. Try not to encode important information using color alone.
- See the resources section for useful tools that can assess color contrast and simulate how your colors appear to someone with CVD.
Consider how to use motion or animations in slide decks
- Animating slides can be helpful to avoid having too much text on any given slide. However, motion or excessive animation can be distracting, difficult to read, or make people ill. This includes text or images flying in from the side.
- Avoid using flashing or rapid GIFs in your presentations as this can trigger seizures.
Be aware of your research impact on your audience
- If you are presenting a study about people, the subject(s) of your study or other people who identify as part of the group you studied may attend your event.
- Be mindful of the ways that your own identities may influence and affect your audience, especially if you are not a member of the group that is being represented.
Adhere to the SSMB Code of Conduct
- Be aware of the Code of Conduct and rules about inappropriate images before submitting your presentation.
- Slide decks and posters will be screened to ensure no inappropriate images are shown.
Giving the Presentation
Plan your delivery pace, and stick to it
- Time your presentation carefully, including appropriate pauses between topics, to encourage dialogue to and respect the time allotted for others' presentations.
- Speak slowly and remember to breathe. Rushed presentations make captioning and interpretation difficult.
- Practice your presentation and get feedback on your speaking pace from a trusted source.
Describe the content of your slides
- Always describe the important visual information in your slides during the presentation. This will help people in the audience who are blind or who cannot see the slides well. It will also help those who are auditory learners.
Use simple language
- Always avoid or explain jargon and acronyms. Define technical terms, and if acronyms can't be avoided, pause to spell them out clearly the first time you introduce one.
- Avoid or explain idioms. For example, expressions such as "raising the bar" might be unfamiliar to someone for whom English is not their first language, or could be interpreted literally by some people with cognitive disabilities.
Give people time to process information
- Pause between topics.
- When you ask if anyone has questions, some people with cognitive disabilities will need extra time to form their thoughts into words.
- People who are relying on assisted listening devices, captioning, or interpretation are integrating different time-lagged information streams and may need to catch up with what you just said.
- Be visible and in good light when you talk, so participants can see your face. This helps some people hear and understand better.
- Be careful to avoid facing away from the audience to read projected material.
Use a microphone when provided
- Some people might need to hear the audio electronically, even in a small room. This includes people using assistive listening devices and remote captioners.
- If the microphone is mounted on a lectern, be careful that you don't turn your head away from it while speaking.
- Consider arriving early for your session so that you can practice using the microphone.
- Note that if you ask, "Can everyone hear me?", some people might be uncomfortable saying that they cannot. Others may not even catch that you asked the question.
Some information in this guide is from the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) document: How to Make Your Presentations Accessible to All. Shawn Lawton Henry, ed. Copyright © 2022 W3C® (MIT, ERCIM, Keio, Beihang). Status: Updated 31 August 2022.
Umstead A, Wiener D (2012) Edited 2018 by Pollack K, Wiener D. A guide to planning inclusive events seminars and activities at Syracuse University. Syracuse University Disability Cultural Center.
Poster & Slide Design Tips
Designing Better Posters
If you're new to making scientific posters, these links (and the further resources they recommend) will put you on the right track. If you're a seasoned poster creator, we still think it's worth taking a look. You'll likely learn something that helps your poster communicate your research even better.
Creating Effective Academic Posters. UC Davis Academic Resource Center.
Academic Poster Resources: Alternative Designs & Templates. Harvey Cushing/John Hay Whitney Medical Library, Yale University.
- Open licensed sans serif fonts with good legibility include: PT Sans, Source Sans Pro, Fira Sans, and Noto Sans.
- For users of Microsoft Office or Microsoft Windows: Verdana and Calibri are additional reasonable options.
- PT Sans and Verdana come pre-installed with recent versions of MacOS.
- Two open licensed options designed specifically for legibility are: the Atkinson Hyperlegible Font and B612.
- Harcourt, H (2021) Dyslexia fonts. The A11y Project.
- Williams, GF (2020) A Guide to Understanding What Makes a Typeface Accessible. The Readability Group.
- For posters, recommended minimum font sizes are:
- 85 points for the title
- 36 points for headings
- 24 points for body text
- 18 points is acceptable for captions that provide incidental information (e.g., a photo credit). Captions that explain important content should be at least 24 points.
- Preferred sizes are:
- 158 points for the title
- 56 points for headings
- 36 points for body text
- How to evaluate spacing and choose better values
- How to adjust spacing between lines and paragraphs in common software
Colors & Contrast
Insufficient contrast between foreground and background colors can make text impossible to read for viewers with low vision, and difficult even for those with typical vision.
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are a set of standards that has been highly influential in drawing attention to how color contrast affects accessibility. Unfortunately, the algorithm used to measure color contrast in the current (2.x) and earlier versions of the WCAG standard is flawed. The draft WCAG 3.0 guidelines include a more accurate algorithm that better models human color perception.
There are many color contrast evaluation tools on the internet, but most use the older WCAG 2.x algorithm. This tool can help you evaluate color contrast using the more accurate WCAG 3.0 algorithm:
- Accessible Palette
- Be sure to read the instructions (at the bottom of the page), and pay attention to the "WCAG 3" contrast values.
- A score of ~65 is the minimum acceptable contrast, and higher is better.
This PowerPoint plug-in can also be helpful, but note that it uses the older algorithm:
Beyond basic color contrast for text, it is also important to check that colors in data visualizations are distinguishable for people with Color Vision Deficiency (CVD). There are many digital tools available for simulating how colors will appear to people with CVD, but you should be aware that color vision simulation has inherent limitations. That said, here are a few particularly helpful tools:
- Evaluate color palettes: Viz Palette
- Construct palettes: Leonardo
- Evaluate an existing image of a figure: CVD Emulator (courtesy of HCL Wizard)
Numerous R packages now exist for:
- Assessing color palettes for CVD accessibility:
- Providing pre-built, CVD-friendly color palettes:
- Encoding information with patterns in addition to colors