Thesis Oral Presentations


Each candidate for the Master of Science in Software Engineering is required, as part of the thesis requirement, to make an oral presentation in each of the thesis courses SE 599 Project Analysis and Design and SE 598 Project Implementation and Evaluation. To assist the student in making these presentations, the following guidelines are suggested.


The first oral presentation is to be made during the last two weeks of the semester in which the student takes SE 598, that is, during the last class week or final week. During this presentation, the student should present the specification and design of the project, that is, give a full description of the project and explain its top-level architecture.


The second oral presentation is to be made during the first two weeks after mid-semester, normally, the first two weeks in April. During this presentation, the student will demonstrate the project, discuss its status, and detail the future direction of the project.


The student, in consultation with the project advisor, should schedule the presentation at least one week in advance. The department secretary is to be informed of the time so room and equipment can be arranged and an announcement made. Each presentation should be about 50-60 minutes including at least ten minutes for questions. An effective slide presentation with accompanying written materials is expected. The student should dress appropriately, for example, business casual. 




Slides provide an outline of your talk to focus attention; they are not your presentation, that is, do not put everything you want to say on the slide. Allow the slide to assist the audience's comprehension of your message. Do not let the slide serve as your message, making your oral message redundant.


Do not clutter a slide. Approximately 4 lines of text are adequate; seven lines should be the maximum. Use the default font sizes.


Do not clutter your presentation with many "bells & whistles" (i.e., special effects, sounds, fancy fonts, wild colors, clip art, etc.).  A little of this is okay; crowding your presentation with this can be distracting. Again, keep it simple.


The audience, in general, cannot easily read diagrams. Provide a printed copy to each member of the audience that they can follow as you point to the various parts of the diagram on the screen. The department has a laser pointer that can be borrowed to use.


When animating slides, keep it non-distracting and consistent (for example, having each bullet fly in from a different direction calls attention to the manner in which the visual is constructed, not to the information contained in the visual). Using animation allows one to present one at a time a list of items that exceeds the seven line maximum guideline.


Take care to hide your visual when you are no longer referring to it or if it will not be used for a period of time. Use the "B" key to black out the screen (“W” to white it out).  Pressing the space bar (or clicking the mouse) should bring the screen back AND will advance the slide.


If using a title page, make sure it does not remain on the screen for your entire presentation; as with other visuals, when its moment has passed, remove it from the screen. A title page is the appropriate time to introduce yourself and the purpose of your talk to the audience.


Do not stand behind the equipment or in front of the screen. When referring to the screen, do not move to the screen to point--use an extended pointer or a laser pointer. Do not read from the screen, maintain eye contact with your audience.


Use a remote mouse if you have the option--it will allow you more freedom of movement than a standard mouse that is connected by a cord to the hardware.


When using the keyboard instead of the mouse, use Enter, the space bar, or "N" ("next") to advance the slides and "P" ("previous") to back up.


Test your presentation in the room and with the equipment you will use. Make sure that all colors and graphics will look good when projected on the screen.


Try not to make changes immediately prior to your presentation. The results can be very interesting when you see what you have done at the same time as the audience.


Remember: show the audience that you are enthusiastic about your message, not about the technology that aids the delivery of your message. That is, do not get carried away with all that the software can do while forgetting the basic principles of effective public speaking.


Prepare and distribute a written copy of your presentation. For most slides, printing handouts three to a page provides a nice place for the audience to write comments on the sheets. Diagrams should be provided on a single page each for clarity.


With thanks to Dr. Rebecca Mikesell, Director of the Public Speaking courses, for permission to use these guidelines. Reference: COMM 100 Public Speaking