Supporting and enhancing the development of competence in neuroscience nursing

Help with Presentations at Conferences

Presentations should be of interest to members of the Association - either directly relating to neuroscience nursing or current developments in nursing as a whole. In general, a good presentation - whether verbal or written - consists of:

  • A Beginning - The introduction
  • A Middle - The main content
  • An End - Summary and conclusion

In other words :

  • “Tell them what you are going to tell them”
  • “Tell them”
  • “Tell them what you have told them”.


Ensure that you know the time limit allowed for your presentation and prepare accordingly. Do not worry if you finish early - stop if you have said what you wanted to say. On the other hand, do not overrun your time limit as the programme schedule is often ‘tight’ and the Chairperson may have to curtail your presentation if it is too long. Do a “trial run” with some colleagues/friends if you are not sure how much material to include.

The time allotted for presentation is usually 30 minutes - approximately 20-25 minutes for delivery of the paper and approximately 5-10 minutes for questions/discussion at the end. Dual or multiple presentations are also possible - i.e., two or three people sharing the time slot. If a longer time is required, this must be negotiated with the organisers.


When presenting a paper, it is important to speak clearly; usually, a microphone is provided for speakers. It is not easy to talk to a large group of colleagues, particularly if you are not used to it - but everyone has to start somewhere!

Appropriate audio-visual aids, such as overhead projection or slides, are useful to focus the audience’s attention. Any aids used should be clear and easy to see/read in a large room or lecture theatre. Consult with the organisers as to what facilities will be available. It may be useful to consider having an assistant to aid with projection of acetates/slides. Further notes on the use of audio-visual aids are available on request.


An alternative to presenting a paper is to facilitate a workshop on a topic of interest. Workshops are popular as the ‘audience’ can participate. This would involve taking a small group of people (a maximum of 20 is recommended) and the facilitator’s role would be to introduce the topic, instigate discussion amongst the group and arrange for feedback. A longer time is required for a workshop - e.g., at least one-and-a-half hours - to allow for discussion. There may also be time in the conference programme for feedback from the workshop.

Poster presentations

Conference organisers may invite submission of posters for display at the Conference. The organisers will provide information.

Audio-visual aids

Relevant and well-presented audio-visual aids can greatly enhance your presentation (and help to focus the audience’s attention). Advice about various aids can be obtained from the BANN Vice President/Editor.

On the day

Arrive early so that you can check the room layout, equipment and microphone. There should be someone to assist you if you need help.
Everyone experiences some degree of nervousness before speaking to a group of people. Be confident - after all, you believe you have something of interest to talk about.

Questions and comments

At a more formal presentation it is usual to invite questions and comments (on the content of your paper) at the end - allow 5 or 10 minutes for this at the end of, but within, your time slot. Sometimes the organisers may have arranged a “speaker’s panel” at the end of, e.g., the morning or afternoon session, instead. If you are presenting a topic that you have researched well and have knowledge about, you should be able to answer questions. If you do not have an answer, say so. A colleague or someone else in the audience may be able to assist in providing an answer. If you are asked a question from the floor, check that other members of the audience have heard it (especially if a roving microphone is not provided) - repeat it if necessary before giving the answer. The Chairperson of the session should assist in directing the question and discussion part of the programme. Do not get involved in lengthy discussion/debate - remember the time factor! Individuals can always speak to you later if they want to know more.

Remember the following points:

  1. Good preparation is crucial and helps to reduce nervousness.
  2. Speak as clearly as possible - not too slowly or too quickly. Your own accent may not be easily understood by others, so try to enunciate your words well and avoid the use of abbreviations and colloquialisms.
  3. If using a microphone, you do not need to raise your voice if the system is working correctly. If you have a naturally loud voice, you may prefer not to use the microphone - but check that everyone can hear you.
  4. Breathe deeply before you commence and try to relax.
  5. Have a glass of water at hand in case you need a drink.
  6. Do not be afraid to pause briefly if you encounter a problem. Ask the audience to bear with you - they are usually sympathetic!
  7. If there is a major problem - e.g., equipment breaks down - try to keep composed. A sense of humour may help!
  8. Try to make some eye contact with members of the audience - even if you are not really focusing on anyone - but do not stare at one person and make them feel uncomfortable.
  9. Try to look as though you are enjoying yourself (depending on your topic, of course!), even though you might be wishing the ground would swallow you up.
  10. When you have finished, go and relax!
  11. If you are unable to do your presentation after offering/being accepted please let the organisers know as soon as possible.

Use of visual aids

  1. Should be capable of being seen by entire audience.
  2. Should support what you are saying and act as a focus.
  3. Should be interesting in content and layout.
  4. Slides and acetates (for overhead projection) should not be too crowded with information - keep them clear and concise; use headings or key points; avoid use of complicated graphs or tables.
  5. More detailed information can be provided on handouts.
  6. An abstract (outline) of your presentation must be provided before the Conference for the organisers to photocopy and put into delegates’ folders.
  7. Someone may be able to provide assistance, e.g., your Medical Illustration Department or IT Department, if you need it.

Flip charts

  Advantages:   Disadvantages:
  Easily portable.   Sheets have limited space.
  Quick to set up.   Dramatic effects are limited.
  Flexible to use.   Not suitable for a large audience.
  Can be prepared in advance.   Prepared sheets must be stored flat or rolled up so they do not crease.
  Useful for small groupsand workshops.  
  • check you have enough paper
  • make sure everyone can see
  • have suitable pens
  • write clearly and legibly; take care with spelling
  • use headings/subheadings as appropriate
  • where possible plan in advance
  • use different colours to highlight/underline points
  • when not in use, turn to a blank page
  • can be useful for group work

Overhead Projector

  Advantages:   Disadvantages:
  Good impact if used well.   Screen or blank wall needed.
  Clean and quick.   Electrical power needed.
  Can reveal information gradually as you speak.   Not suitable for a large audience.
  Can be used with large or small groups.   Mistakes not easy to rectify if  permanent pens used.
  Speaker can face group.   Water-soluble pens can smudge. 
  • hand-written material must be clear and easy to read
  • writing/printing should be larger than normal
  • use lined paper beneath acetate when writing to keep it straight
  • prepared material can be photocopied onto acetates (e.g., pictures, typed material) - ensure you use correct acetates for this as not all can be used in a photocopier
  • illustrations can be traced by hand if you are not a good artist
  • production of acetates is possible with computer software which gives a very ‘professional’ appearance
  • check spelling and content
  • do not cram too much on one sheet; use headings / key words
  • use different colours for more impact
  • when using, check OHP is working and in focus and acetate is right way up
  • use overlay (plain paper) to cover points if you want to reveal information gradually
  • allow audience time to read the information
  • keep acetates in sequence - number them if necessary
  • face the audience rather than the screen
  • use a pointer on the acetate (not the screen - unless it is a battery lit/laser pointer); a long knitting needle is useful if you do not have anything else
  • switch off OHP when not actually using it
  • ensure spare bulbs / projector are available
  • have a table or lectern nearby for your notes and acetates
  • consider having an “assistant”, who is well-briefed with your presentation, to help with projection


Advantages / disadvantages:

As for OHP. Screen and electrical power needed.
May have facilities for Focusing can sometimes be a problem.
double projection. Slides may ‘catch’ when moving
Suitable professionally forward or reversing sequence.
produced slides may be Adequate black-out of room needed.

  • allow time to put slides in carousel/magazine if you do not have a compatible one ready prepared
  • check slides are the right way round and in the correct order
  • do not use slides that contain complicated information
  • keep information simple and clear
  • ensure you know how to use the projector/remote control
  • get an “assistant” to help with projection if you prefer
  • check focus and projection on the screen before you start
  • ensure the audience can see everything; do not block their view
  • allow audience time to see/read the slides
  • face the audience; do not “talk to the screen”
  • use a pointer (light source/laser) if required
  • have a table or lectern nearby for your notes
  • make sure you have some light to read your notes if necessary


Advantages / disadvantages:

Useful for more lifelike Large or multiple screens may be
presentations. required for large groups.
Can use short clips and Electrical power required.
talk in between to Expensive to prepare or buy tapes.
highlight points. Equipment can be expensive to hire.

  • ensure you know how to use equipment or have someone who does at hand
  • set up video tape beforehand so that it is ready to start as you require
  • ensure everyone can see and hear


  • can be a useful adjunct to your presentation, e.g.,an abstract or outline of the main points of your paper
    - a full copy of your paper
    - examples of charts (such as observation charts)
    - illustrations or diagrams relevant to your presentation
  • ensure you have enough copies for everyone
  • if handouts are supplied in advance, the conference organiser can put them into delegates’ folders

Computer Projection

Most people are now using computer projection for presentations. Check if this is available if you want to use it. The conference venue may be able to provide the equipment or one of the organisers of the conference may be able to supply it. Make sure that your presentation is compatible, e.g., power point programme. Ensure that you do not transmit computer viruses if you are using someone else’s equipment.

Ethical Considerations

These relate to all aspects of presentation:

  • never use people’s real names unless you have their permission to do so; this is particularly important when using a case study approach; maintain confidentiality at all times
  • if using X-rays, scans, charts, etc., as visual aids remember to delete names from them
  • if you refer to the work/research of someone else, acknowledge your sources; ensure that you have permission to divulge information if necessary
  • it is the individual presenter’s responsibility to ensure that copyright is not infringed in any presentation
  • the BANN does not necessarily endorse the views of individuals expressed in presentations at conferences 

The Society was founded in 1971 at Manchester Royal Infirmary as the British Society of Neurosurgical Nurses (BSNN). ┬áThe Society changed its name to the British Association of Neuroscience Nurses (BANN) in 1998. Our Equality & Diversity statement »

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