CIS4398: Independent Study
Summer 2002
Emerging Issues in Information Technology

A Generic Conference Talk Outline

The guidelines below were prepared for academic conference talks. As stated below the " ... outline is a starting point, not a rigid template".


This conference talk outline is a starting point, not a rigid template. Most good speakers average two minutes per slide (not counting title and outline slides), and thus use about a dozen slides for a twenty minute presentation.

  • Title/author/affiliation (1 slide)
  • Forecast (1 slide)
    Give gist of problem attacked and insight found (What is the one idea you want people to leave with? This is the "abstract" of an oral presentation.)
  • Outline (1 slide)
    Give talk structure. Some speakers prefer to put this at the bottom of their title slide. (Audiences like predictability.)
  • Background
    • Motivation and Problem Statement (1-2 slides)
      (Why should anyone care? Most researchers overestimate how much the audience knows about the problem they are attacking.)
    • Related Work (0-1 slides)
      Cover superficially or omit; refer people to your paper.
    • Methods (1 slide)
      Cover quickly in short talks; refer people to your paper.
  • Results/Findings (4-6 slides)
    Present key results and key insights. This is main body of the talk. Its internal structure varies greatly as a function of the researcher's contribution. (Do not superficially cover all findings and results; cover key results well. Do not just present numbers; interpret them to give insights. Do not put up large tables of numbers.)
  • Summary (1 slide)
  • Future Work (0-1 slides)
    Optionally give problems this research opens up.
  • Backup Slides (0-3 slides)
    Optionally have a few slides ready (not counted in your talk total) to answer expected questions. (Likely question areas: ideas glossed over, shortcomings of methods or results, and future work.)