Click here for advice on preparing a poster presentation.

Giving an Empirical Presentation in Psychology

Note: What is described below is a presentation about an empirical project. The presentation is assumed to be 15 minutes long, with 3-5 of those minutes left for questions. While each presentation will differ by topic, methodology, etc., there are some general guidelines for “standard” psychology talks. This 15 minute format is common at undergraduate conferences, and common for short "Hot Topic" presentations at professional conferences.



Your presentation should be no longer than 10-12 minutes, leaving 3-5 minutes for questions. Within that time frame, the following format is often appropriate:

Obviously the above suggestions are flexible depending on the theoretical and/or methodological complexity of your project.




Unlike your written work where you are asked to provide a great deal of detail, and (in particular) an extensive literature review, this talk will be a summary of your work. As painful as it may be to NOT discuss certain literature or, even, certain hypotheses or questionnaires included in your research, you need to figure out what your main/most important point in your research is and just present that. In general, you want to be precise, but present only the basic information that is needed to understand what you did, why you did it and what you found.


General guidelines:


You should probably have the following visuals:

Answering Questions


“I don’t know.” Say it now, out loud. You will know “the” answer, or “an” answer (or that fact that there is no answer) to most questions you are asked. However, “I don’t know” is also a perfectly legitimate response. Your honesty will be appreciated more than posturing. BUT, that being said, there are multiple ways to say “I don’t know” including:

When you “kind of” understand what they are asking…

SILENCE is not your enemy. Remember, you are the expert who has read all the literature and spent time thinking about your topic. It is perfectly legitimate to listen to a question, pause, breathe, think about all that stuff you know and then respond. Your more thoughtful response will be appreciated.


Additional Tips

Here are a few tips regarding presentation style, etc.