NMJAS 2024 Presentation Guidelines

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2024 Presentation notes

The State finals for the NMJAS Paper Competition will be held in person on April 12 at the New Mexico Science and Engineering Fair in Socorro. Regional competitions may be in person or virtual, at the discretion of the regional director. 

Specific rules for presentations
Oral presentation judging form

Presentation requirements

Your presentation is strictly limited to 10 minutes. An additional 5 minutes will be allowed for questions. Plan the slides carefully; at 2 slides per minute, you should have no more than 20 slides.

The first slide should contain introductory information:

  • Your name
  • School, city and grade level
  • Teacher, sponsor, and/or mentor
  • Title of presentation

Number each slide in the bottom right corner.

Use tables, charts, and graphs to explain your project. Visual aids should be large enough to be seen easily; they should be clear, concise and uncluttered. Give each a title. Label both axes of graphs and all columns on tables.

No audio or background music is permitted other than sounds that are an integral part of your project. Recorded or mechanically produced narration is not permitted. Narration must come from the speaker.

Any video in your presentation must comply with these rules:

  • Videos or simulations should be used only for aspects that cannot otherwise be adequately presented. It must be an integral part of your research or results. It should not be used to display data, procedures, equipment, or facilities.
  • Video components cannot make up more than 1 minute of the presentation.
  • Embed video directly into your presentation.

If the oral presentation is in-person, you will need to display your presentation as PowerPoint on a Windows computer. If you are using a video, it needs to be embedded into the PowerPoint presentation. For the State competition, a copy of your PowerPoint and a copy of any video must be sent to the State Director at least 2 days before the oral presentations are scheduled. This is so they can be pre-loaded onto the NM Tech computer. Also be sure to bring your presentation with you on a thumb drive. A laser pointer will be provided.

If the presentation is virtual, be sure that the presentation works correctly on Zoom.

Best practices

The presentation is meant to support your research and narrative. Keep it simple and aesthetic – use a simple color scheme, easily visible fonts, no special effects, no flashy transitions, no extraneous sounds. Limit the words on your slides. You are the focus of this presentation, and the judges will evaluate you based on your performance, not your slides.

Sequence of slides

  • The first slide introduces you. Use the second slide to outline your presentation. Include your main points and follow that sequence.
  • Cover detailed information in content slides. Use as many slides as you need, but generally no more than 2 per minute.
  • Create a meaningful final slide. The audience will remember this slide.

Slide format

  • Use a consistent background and layout for all slides; avoid distracting bright backgrounds and cluttered layouts.
  • Choose fonts carefully. Use two at most, nothing cursive or ornamental. Sans serif fonts such as Arial, Helvetica or Calibri are most legible on screens (additional options can be found here or here). Use a minimum of 18 point font; 20-24 point is better. Main points and titles can be larger. Easiest to read is high-contrast letters on a light background.
  • Use color with care. Your choice of colors evokes emotion (see here or here). Avoid extremely bright colors and distracting combinations such as red/green. 
  • Graphics should only be used to support your narrative. Images should have good resolution: not pixilated, out of focus, or too dark. Crop images to remove distractions.

Slide content

  • Choose your content carefully. You cannot possibly convey your entire research project in 10 minutes, so make your limited content tell a story.
  • Do not use large blocks of text. Use bullet points with keywords, not complete sentences.
  • There should be no more than 4-6 bullet points on a page. Left-align text (centered is harder to read). Consider using animation to reveal one point at a time.
  • Tables, graphs, and charts should be structured and formatted so that the audience can easily follow your narrative. Be sure to label each appropriately – title, graph axes, table columns, etc. 

Preparing for your presentation 

  • Do not assume that whatever works on your computer will work the same on different equipment or using video conference. Verify.
  • Adequately explain tables and graphs. Allow enough time for the audience to understand.
  • Anticipate questions from the judges and prepare responses in advance. 
  • Show up early.
  • Practice, practice, practice – with a timer.

Additional resources

If you have never done a technical presentation before, the following should give you some additional help. 
Tips for creating and delivering an effective presentation – from Microsoft
Technical Presentation – MIT Mechanical Engineering
Microsoft PowerPoint Hints and Tips – Presentation Magazine

Last updated January 2024