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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Presenting Your Research: Rapid-fire Presentation Styles

Are you getting ready to give your first presentation on your research? This guide will help you refine your presentation style.

Five Minutes One Slide

A five minute one slide presentation could be considered a poster presentation.


A five minute one slide presentation could mean that you only require one image for your presentation. Often students are presented with power point and assume the must make multiple slides for a presentation. It is possible to have a great presentation with no slides at all.

This method calls for one image. This DOES NOT mean that everything you are going to say should be written on this slide.

Your one slide could be:

  • A photo that is relevant to your presentation
  • A graph of your findings
  • A moving image of your findings (like the weather man)
  • A display of the image/concept you are discussing

Information graphics are structures that tend to use one image to compile many forms of information. Here are some example of visually graphed information that do not require a formal spoken presentation.

Tumblr | We Love Data Viz

Infosthetics | Complex Data Visualized

It might be interesting to consider yourself, the speaker, as an information graphic. Your slide will show the visual information and you will speak for the text that would be on the graph.

20 Minutes 5 Slides

A longer presentation requires a longer story arc.

Graph of the novel structure with time on the x-axis and tension on the y-axis. Tension builds over time but then falls after the climax.

Consider your research as if it is imposed on this graph of a Novel structure. Consider creating slides for the "opening scene" of your presentation and the various "crises" or events that lead to your "climax" or main idea.

10 Tips on how to think like a designer

Practice restraint. Any fool can be complicated and add more, it takes discipline of mind and strength of will to make the hard choices about what to include and what to exclude. The genius is often in what you omit or leave on the editing room floor

 Become a master storyteller. Often it's not only the design — i.e., the solution to a problem — that is important, but the story of it. This is related to #5 above. What's the meaning of the solution? Practice illustrating the significance of solutions both verbally and visually. Start with the general, zoom in to the detail, pull out again to remind us of the theme or key concept, then zoom back in to illuminate more of the detail.

Think communication not decoration. Design — even graphic design — is not about beautification. Design is not just about aesthetics, though aesthetics are important. More than anything, design is about solving problems or making the current situation a little better than before. Design is not art, though there is art in design.

Glossary of Graphic Design Terms and Concepts

  • Select a typeface appropriate for on-screen presentation.
  • Do not add to much text to your slides Or consider making a presentation that has no text at all. Your audience should be listening to you instead of reading from a screen.
  • Make sure that your presentation has a clear story arc, which means ideally there will be a "Wow" moment--a  moment of conflict or reveal.
  • Have a theme that is consistent throughout your presentation.

Presentation Software Besides PowerPoint:

Google Slides



20 slides, for 20 seconds each

20 slides for 20 seconds each is a presentation style referred to as PechaKucha.

PechaKucha Night was devised in Tokyo in February 2003 as an event for young designers to meet, network, and show their work in public.

It has turned into a massive celebration, with events happening in hundreds of cities around the world, inspiring creatives worldwide. Drawing its name from the Japanese term for the sound of conversation ("chit chat"), it rests on a presentation format that is based on a simple idea:

20 images x 20 seconds.
It's a format that makes presentations concise, and keeps things moving at a rapid pace.

This presentation style discourages the use of text on a slide presentation. To create a PechaKucha presentation it is imperative that your script is entirely written and timed with each of your images.

  • Create the story that you want to tell through your presentation.
  • Once you have written that story mark the 20 points where an image will enhance or describe your story.
  • Compile your 20 images and then restructure your story to move at the pacing of a PechaKucha: 20 images x 20 seconds.

Visit for online presentation examples and more information on this presentation style.


Assertion-Evidence Approach

The Assertion-Evidence Talks method was introduced in Michael Alley's The Craft of Scientific Presentations

Assertion-Evidence is an NSF research-backed alternative to traditional research presentations in science and engineering. In Assertion-Evidence presentations, you create slides that include a sentence long topic they are discussing and an accompanying visual such as an image, infographic, or chart as evidence. Basically, you have a slide as a helpful tool and mnemonic for their talk, however, you can adapt your presentation easier to fit the circumstances you may find yourself giving the talk in. The research says that those watching these talks are better able to recall the information presented. Using the assertion-evidence approach is useful because it forces you to be more intentional with how you create your slides than PowerPoint defaults do.