Guidelines and Tips for Abstracts and Presentations

Check back soon for specific guidelines and tips for virtual presentations!

Presentation Requirements

  • If you already presented your topic at a previous Tester Symposium, then you must include new data.
  • If your presentation was given at another scientific meeting, then the talk should have a different title and not contain the same presentation.
  • If you've graduated within one year and not presented data at Tester's, you may present. However, you are not eligible for an award and will be admitted depending on space availability.
  • Multiple presentations are allowed, but only on a space availability basis.
  • Data (even preliminary) are strongly suggested and desirable, but are not absolutely required. Project proposals, exploratory data, or completed research are all welcome.


Abstracts are 250 words maximum. We request your full title as well as a shortened running title for including in programs. Key words help organizers group your talk into a session theme.

Generally, abstracts should concisely summarize the study's specific objective(s), methods, results, and major conclusions. As we’ve expanded the symposium to project proposals or projects in progress, we understand if abstracts stray a bit from this format. Above all, make sure your abstract is clear, concise, and conveys what is unique or interesting about your research.

Poster Presentation Tips

The information (e.g., each author's name, institution, and title) in the banner heading across the top of your poster should be exactly the same as that in the submitted abstract. The heading should be large enough to be read from approximately 20 feet away.

Your poster presentation should include the abstract, an introduction to the general topic, your reason for doing the work, an explanation of your methods, a summary of results, and a clear conclusion regarding the contribution of the work to science. Your poster may include charts, graphs, tables, maps, illustrations, and pictures. It should be easy to follow the flow of information with titles provided for any graphics and each section clearly labeled. Text on the poster should be large enough to be read from 5 to 10 feet away.

Oral Presentation Tips (Some Hints on Giving a Good 15 Minute Talk)

Text on visual materials should be at least 18-point font size in order to be easily readable from the back of each meeting room. Avoid the "ransom note" look by using no more than two typefaces (i.e., fonts) and limit yourself to a maximum of four or five different font sizes to ensure text is legible. Use a font large enough to be seen from the back of the room.

Tables should include no more than three columns of information, with a minimum number of rows to make the points required. Bar graphs, pie charts, and line graphs can be effective tools to show trends and statistics. Simplify the graphs or show more of them. Highlighted bullets on successive frames can effectively summarize key points.

Avoid busy and low contrast backgrounds. A simple white background with dark-colored text or a dark background with light-colored text is very effective. A shaded background that transitions from dark to light can make words difficult to read as the contrast changes. Use contrasting, bright colors to delineate between categories, but keep it simple by using a maximum of four colors per slide.

(Adapted from ESA website

General Strategy

You are in a battle with the audience; your job is to keep them interested. Enthusiasm will go a long way and is infectious. Assume that people will remember one thing about your talk. What do you want it to be?

Get the audience interested with the title. Don't make it too specific, and let it convey information. In your introduction, you must convince the listeners why this problem might interest them and give a sense of what your contribution is. Start with the motivating phenomenon or with an unsolved problem -- give them something interesting.


You have 15 minutes total. NEVER run over. Organize your time approximately like this:
  • 2 minutes for the introduction
  • 8-9 minutes to describe the work
  • 2 minutes for wrap up
  • Allow 2-3 minutes for questions from the audience.
  • Plan on 1 minute per slide or overhead.

A Parting Thought

PRACTICE and try to have some fun!

Last Modified: 
03/12/2021 at 12:05pm