Presentations & Posters

Get started on your presentation or poster with these quick-start resources.

Click the icons on the left to access the resources.

Access the Assignment CalculatorAssignment Calculator

Download quick start guide on online presentations

Online Presentations Quick Start Guide

Download presentations checklist

Presentations Checklist

Download academic integrity checklist

Academic Integrity Checklist

Working in a group?

Learn more about teamwork skills

Need more help?

Use the resources below OR Find someone to help


Purpose of presentations & posters

Giving a speech to show and explain content to an audience is an essential part of life and work. In a professional context, whether you are presenting to a client or speaking at a team meeting, being able to communicate clearly and concisely in spoken form will help you advance your career.

Understanding the question

It's always a good idea to start by analysing your task, as you would for any other assessment. Analyse the task and think about what you need to say (the content) and who you will say it to (the audience).

Analysing the question (video, 2:35) from Western Sydney University Library.

Click the icons on the left to access the resources.

Download full guide on analysing the assignment questionAnalysing the assignment question (full guide) Tips and information about understanding your assignment question.
Download quick guide on analysing the assignment questionAnalysing the assignment question (3-min guide) Quick tips and information about understanding your assignment question.
Download analysing the assignment question checklistAnalysing the assignment question checklist Use this checklist to make sure you've done everything you need to understand your assignment question.

Download guide on common task words

Common task words Learn what common assignment task words mean.

Download guide on understanding what the marker is looking for

Understanding what the marker is looking for Learn how to interpret the marking criteria (or rubric) for your assignment.

Researching & reading

Researching

For most of your assignments, you will need to do some research. This means searching for scholarly information related to the topic in order to find out what researchers have said about the topic and to develop your own ideas.

Ask a Library staff member for help in finding scholarly sources for your assignments.

Click the icons on the left to access the resources.

Access successful searching tutorialsSuccessful Searching tutorials These Library online tutorials will take you through five skills that are important for finding and using information effectively.
Download guide on types of sourcesTypes of sources Understand the different kinds of sources that you can use for your assignment.

Download guide on critical thinking

Critical thinking Practical resources to develop your skills in critical thinking.
Download APPEAL source evaluation worksheetAPPEAL source evaluation worksheet Learn how to evaluate each source you find, to ensure that the sources you use are scholarly sources.

Reading

Many students struggle with reading for university, but it doesn't have to be an uphill battle. You just need to figure out what you need to read and why you need to read it, then use the strategies in the resources below to help you become a more effective reader.

Interactive tutorials

Click on the images to access the tutorials.

Library Study Smart Tips for effective reading: Pre-reading. Female student in library Use pre-reading techniques to decide whether to spend time reading a source.

Library Study Smart Tips for effective reading: Selective reading. Male student. Use selective reading techniques to quickly find the information you need.

Library Study Smart Tips for effective reading: Active reading. Female student with books. Use active reading techniques to understand and engage with what you read.

Click the icons on the left to access the resources.

Download guide on the why, when and what of readingThe why, when, and what of reading Learn why reading at university is important, when you should read, and what you should read.

Download guide on how to read effectively

How to read effectively Here you will find practical strategies and tips for effective and efficient reading.
Download guide on organising your readingOrganising your reading Learn how to keep on top of your reading workload.

Download guide on note-making for critical thinking

Note-making for critical thinking Examples of note-taking systems to help you read and think critically. Find more resources on note-taking in Attending lectures and tutorials.

Download reading worksheet

Reading worksheet Keep a copy of this resource to guide your note-taking whenever you read for university.

Download reading graphic organiser

Reading graphic organiser Use this interactive tool to take notes on the main points as you read.

Using what you find in sources

Download guide on writing evidence: summaries, paraphrases and quotesWriting evidence: Summaries, paraphrases, and quotes This quick guide explains how to use ideas from sources as evidence in your writing.

Download guide on summarising

Summarising Learn how summarise ideas from sources.
Download guide on paraphrasingParaphrasing Learn about paraphrasing ideas from sources.
Download paraphrasing toolParaphrasing tool This handy interactive resource will guide you through the stages of effectively paraphrasing the ideas you read.
Download guide on quotingQuoting Learn when and how to use quotes in your writing.
Download guide on referencing and citationReferencing and citation Learn about the importance of attributing the ideas appropriately to the sources. To learn how to use referencing styles, visit the Library Referencing and Citation Guide.

Organising & expressing your ideas in a presentation

Giving a presentation isn't like chatting to your friends. You can't just stand up and speak without any preparation. You should take time to organise your ideas and find the right volume, pace, tone, and pitch for your voice and your meaning.

Click the icons on the left to access the resources.

Download guide on presentation structure

Presentation Structure Learn how to structure your presentation.
Download guide on written versus spoken languageWritten language vs. spoken language Learn about the most effective language choices for a presentation.
Download guide on using visual aidsUsing visual aids Learn the pros and cons of different types of visual aids.
Download guide on body language and gestureBody language and gesture Learn tips for using body language and gesture effectively.
Download guide on paragraph structureDownload guide on reducing anxietyReducing anxiety Learn tips for reducing your anxiety before giving a presentation.

Tips for making yourself heard

  • Speak loudly, so that you can be heard, but don't shout or strain your voice. Instead, learn to project your voice: this means that you can be heard in the back of the room, but you're not yelling.
  • Adjust your volume to the size of the room. You can also change your volume for emphasis or to get your audience's attention (not just by shouting – lowering your volume slightly will make your audience lean forward to hear what's coming next).
  • Speak slowly and clearly, especially for key points.
  • Don't be afraid of silence – it's fine to pause for effect or to remember your next point!
  • Try varying your pace for effect, for example by speaking more quickly when you get to an exciting point (100 words on the page = around 1 minute of speech).
  • Try varying your vocal tone and pitch.
  • Practise pronouncing sounds clearly so that your audience can understand you.
  • Practise pronouncing unfamiliar words and check pronunciation with a friend, a dictionary, or an online resource.

Organising & expressing your ideas in a poster

One of the key challenges of producing a poster is knowing what to put in, what to leave out, and what order to put it in. You should have a good idea of what the most important information is from your previous research and completed tasks. Make sure to check your assessment guidelines and organise your ideas and information in the required format.

  • Start by preparing a draft of the text your will use on your poster.
  • Be selective in what you include. Deciding what can be left out is as important as deciding what to put in. This is called prioritising. While it can be tempting to include everything about the topic, your poster needs to convey key information succinctly and visually as much as possible.
  • Consider the main message you want to convey and dedicate the largest space to it on your poster. The largest element will draw the most attention.
  • Consider your audience. What are their wants, expectations, or assumed knowledge?
  • Consider the order of information on the page. Most English readers will read from the top left to bottom right corner. Make sure the design of your poster allows the reader to follow your thinking.

Developing visuals

Visuals such as data figures, photos, and sketches are often included in posters to help your audience understand a process or to illustrate design ideas. They can be useful to explain and clarify key points.

If you include visuals in your poster, you must do the following:

  • Annotate them to accurately describe the content.
  • Position them carefully so that they are visually well organised and appealing.

Tip: If you do your sketches by hand, you'll need to digitise them to include in the digital copy of your poster. To do this, you can use the scan function on a photocopier or printer, or you may be able to use a scanning app on your phone. Be aware that light pencil lines may lose definition in the scanning process, so you'll need to either darken them manually before scanning, or adjust the settings on the scanning device.

Working in a group?

The different members of your group might have very different ideas of what looks good. This can be challenging when you need to design visuals as a group.

Here are some tips to help guide the process:

  • Decide as a group how you would like your poster to look visually. Collecting some examples of other posters that you all like can provide some basic guidelines.
  • Decide as a group who will complete each task or poster to avoid duplication.
  • Make sure posters and graphics are visually consistent so they look like they belong together.
  • Use appropriate collaborative tools to share work e.g. Google Drive, OneDrive etc.
  • Agree on how you will make suggestions and changes. Consider using features such as ‘track changes’ in Microsoft Office products, or ‘suggestion mode’ in Google Docs.
  • When reviewing each other’s designs, make sure to give constructive feedback, providing suggestions or alternatives. It is not helpful to say that it just ‘doesn’t look good’. Why does that element not work? How could it be improved?

Using paragraphs, sentences & words

The University offers free workshops on academic writing, referencing, and grammar. These are open to all students enrolled at Western Sydney University. You can find out more information on the Academic literacy and grammar workshops page (opens in a new window).

Click the icons on the left to access the resources.

Download guide on paragraph structureParagraph structure Learn how to structure paragraphs in academic writing.

Download guide on sentence structure

Sentence structure Learn how to structure sentences in academic writing.

Download three minute guide on sentences

Sentences 3-min guide Learn how to find and fix common sentence structure problems in your writing.
Download guide on grammar: tense and subject-verb agreementGrammar - Tense and subject-verb agreement Learn how to appropriately apply grammar in academic writing (including tense and subject-verb agreement).
Download guide on grammar: articles and determinersGrammar - Articles and determiners Learn how to appropriately use articles and determiners in academic writing.
Download 3 minute guide on purpose and language choicePurpose and language choice 3-min guide Learn how to choose the right kind of language for your purpose.
Download guide on vocabularyVocabulary Tips for using appropriate vocabulary in academic writing.

Editing & revising

Once you've done all the research and prepared your presentation, you'll probably feel like you've finished. But it's still a draft and probably won't be your best work until you've practised it a couple of times and made changes.

Practise without an audience

Practise without an audience to check that the organisation and timing of your content work well. Reflect on how it went by asking yourself:

  • What worked well?
  • What didn't work so well?
  • At what points were there problems in the flow?

Make changes based on your reflections.

Practise with an audience

Practice your presentation with one or more onlookers. As your audience:

  • What worked well?
  • What didn't work so well?
  • At what points were there problems in the flow?

Then, reflect on the feedback from your audience, and how you felt giving your presentation in front of other people, and make changes as needed.

Click the icons on the left to access the resources.

Download guide on editing

Editing

Learn a 5-step approach to editing your work.
Download editing checklistEditing Checklist Keep this interactive resource handy to guide you through the editing process.

Download academic integrity checklist

Academic Integrity Checklist Use this checklist to see if your work meets academic integrity expectations.

Finishing & submitting

Check out these tips for improving the final draft of your presentation or poster.

  • If working in a group, assign different people to focus on different elements of your slides or poster. Someone can check referencing and another can check that the graphics are consistent.
  • The Spelling and Grammar tool in Microsoft PowerPoint is useful but should not be relied on. It cannot tell if you’ve used the correct form of a verb, or if a comma is in the right place. Make sure you conduct a manual check as well.
  • If possible, have someone other than the creator of the slides do the proofreading. Someone new can pick up errors that might have been missed.

Click the icons on the left to access the resources.

Download guide on proofreadingProofreading Learn the importance of proofreading and how to do it successfully.

Download proofreading checklist

Proofreading checklist

Keep this interactive resource handy to guide you through the proofreading process

Access guide to using TurnitinUsing Turnitin Learn how to use Turnitin to submit your assignnment.

Learning from feedback

When your presentation has been marked, don't just look at the mark you got, but read through all the feedback and reflect on what you could do to improve next time.

Follow these steps after your presentation:

  1. Reflect on your audience’s feedback and your own experience.
  2. Make some brief notes so you can improve your next presentation.
  3. If you worked in a group, debrief the presentation as a group. Ask yourselves: What went well? What could be improved for next time?
  4. Make sure you celebrate as a group for a job well done!

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Download guide on learning from feedback

Learning from feedback

Learn the best strategies for using feedback on your writing to improve your work (see p.5).