Writing and Presenting


One of the tenets of TRI's mission is training, and that includes providing guidance and feedback on students' academic writing and research presentations. These are some helpful resources and style guides, and you can always contact the TRI office directly with questions. 

TRI bulletin authors should refer to these detailed guidelines:


Reading Strategies


At Yale
Proposals and Manuscripts

When should you start writing? Now!

Some brief overviews …

More details …



Structuring your talk

Audience: Most people in the audience are not in the same field as you. Start general: What big idea, question, or problem are you working on? and how might this be of interest to a wide audience. Then, narrow down to the knowledge gap and what you did to fill the hole.

Narrative: A good talk usually tells a story. What is your question or problem? How did you address it? What is your answer? What does your answer mean for the bigger picture? In most cases, a talk will follow the narrative structure of the paper on which it is based.

Outline: In a short talk, there is usually no need for an outline.

Slide design

Slides are there to support you talking. The audience will read or look at anything and everything on the slide, so make sure that what is there is useful and not distracting.

Titles: Use the title of each slide to convey the take-away message E.g., “Q2: Women earned twice as much as men in Otavalo”, not 'Results: earnings by gender”.

One idea per slide: One result, chart, message per slide.

Text: Use text to help convey your message, but don't read your slides to the audience.

Fonts and typeface: Use easy-to-read large san serif fonts (e.g., helvetica, arial) for most text (especially labels and numbers on graphs!). Smaller text is fine for credits, links etc.

Slow reveal: Display and reveal complex ideas or charts piece by piece.

Charts and graphs

Charts and graphs are powerful visual ways to communicate data and information.

Purpose: Why are you showing this graph? A chart should have a job, e.g., make us aware of a problem, answer a question, or persuade us to action.

Chart type: Use a chart type that works for both the purpose of the chart and the data.

Formatting: Follow best-practice formatting guidelines, to present the data quickly (it can be read and understood in as little time as possible), comfortably (with as little cognitive effort as possible), and safely (with a low risk of the audience misrepresenting the data).


Practice: Practice on your own.

Practice: Then practice as if you were giving the talk: Standing up, in a room, in front of people who are more experienced than you.

Feedback: Get feedback from those more experienced people. If you are brave, video yourself and watch it!

Practice: Again! And again.


There is no One-Best-Style: Be yourself, and try to avoid things like fidgeting, mumbling, pacing, nervous tics, etc. All these things get better with practice and as you feel more comfortable in front of an audience.

Audience: Look at and connect with the audience; talk to the audience, not the the slide; ignore the people sleeping and focus on the smilers! They are all on your side and want you to do well.

Describe-Highlight-Summarize: For images, charts, and tables, first describe the topic (what does it show, what are the axes, what is each bar/point/line); then highlight the points of interest (what result does the graph display); finally summarize the take-away (what can we conclude, how does the chart answer your question).

Talk for listeners: Talk in active voice, short sentences for key information.

Jargon: Avoid jargon, explain acronyms, and speak to the level of the audience.

further reading

We recommend that Fellows reach out to YSE Communications Coach Julie Vance to  get feedback and help on presenting. Sign up here.

  • Zen Faulkes. Better Posters blog. Academic conference posters are often ugly, with tiny text, confusing layouts, and dubious colour schemes. Better Posters is about making posters informative and beautiful.
  • Colin Purrington. Designing conference posters. A poster allows you to more personally interact with the people who are interested in your topic. If all text is kept to a minimum (500-1000 words), a person could fully read your poster in 5–10 minutes.

Grammar and Style