Career Center

Presentation Skills

Strong communication and presentation skills are essential in relating thoughts and ideas effectively. Whether delivering a laboratory presentation or interviewing for a job, the overall success of the presentation relies heavily on the speaker’s ability to confidently impart information in a concise and interesting way.

Personal Preparation

The best way to confront fear of public speaking is effective preparation.  Before you begin organizing the content and details of the talk, clarify your purpose in giving it.  Ask yourself: Who is my audience? What are the most salient points to make?  Why is this information important?  And, you should know well in advance what your expected format, time frame, and space/technology limits are.  Next, practice “dress rehearsal” style, meaning that you should go through the speech using the slides and technology tools you will have on the day of delivery.    Plan ahead for questions you expect to receive and prepare slides and/or other supportive materials to support your answers.  Finally, arrive early at the presentation site on the day of your talk to ensure proper set up of technology aids and to take time to acclimate to your surroundings before beginning.

Slide and Technology Preparation

The purpose of using slides and other technological devices in talks is two-fold: to provide a visual aid which explains a concept and to introduce an idea you will talk about.  It is important, therefore, to present one idea or concept per slide and expound on it verbally as opposed to presenting materials cluttered with lots of details.  Make sure you provide at least one slide which outlines what you plan to talk about and slide formats should be the same throughout the talk.  It is also advisable to bring back up materials just in case your first plan does not work.


All presentations begin with a brief introduction, continue with content development and explanation, and end with conclusive, summarizing details and/or question and answer opportunities.  Your talk should include smooth transitions between these stages to keep your audience engaged and clear about program objectives.

Introduction: Start your presentation with a brief introduction of yourself, the context for your talk, and your agenda for it.  You will want to begin on time and speak confidently, even if you are nervous.  Remember: it is not just what you say, but how you say it that makes for a good first impression and effective speech.

Presentation of Content: Your content is best when presented in a relaxed, conversational style.  Avoid reading directly from your slides or notes; rather, you should be adding to slide content.  Provide relevant, concise, and interesting stories or examples to illustrate key or complicated points.  Walk around a little, if possible, and make eye contact with audience members.  If they appear disengaged or confused, try to reconnect with them by explaining information in a different way or by asking if they need clarification.

Conclusions, Questions and Answers: You will want to end your presentation by restating your original point and by summarizing your supporting arguments.   Listen carefully to audience members’ questions and repeat them back, should you need clarification.  End on time and provide opportunities for future follow-up and questions by providing references, resources, and your contact information.

Additional Resources

The SoMCC offers resources within the library and through individual advising appointments to help you further hone your presentation skills. Additional campus resources include the Lane Knowledge Management Center in the Medical School and the Center for Teaching and Learning on the central campus.

Stanford Medicine Resources:

Footer Links: