Guidelines for Presenters

On this page you can find a brief guide to writing an abstract and some guidance on the different presentation formats, to help you decide which format to apply for.


You must discuss your abstract submission with your supervisor and check that s/he is happy for it to be published in the SPARC 17 Book of Abstracts. 

Abstracts should be a maximum of 250 words. Please use the SPARC 17 abstract template: abstracts in any other format will not be accepted. Each abstract will need to fit on one page, so only state the name and email address of your primary supervisor/s rather than adding further collaborators from your research group.

Your abstract for SPARC should be a brief (250 word) summary of the research that will be discussed in your presentation. It should convey the importance of your topic and should also be specific about what you will be covering within the presentation itself. While there are differences between disciplinary conventions, as a general rule of thumb, it is useful to include the following in your abstract: 

  • Context - characteristics of the current research in your field and its importance. This helps to establish that your work is contributing to a significant or established research area.
  • Your research – where your work fits into this field. What is it doing that is new? How is it addressing the problem that has been set up in the context? How is the research being carried out?
  • Your presentation – what are you going to be showing in this particular presentation/poster? What is the argument or what key findings are you going to present? (if you have findings already). Remember that you cannot present an entire thesis in a short presentation, and it is best to focus on a particular area, or one or two themes of your research.

Presentation Formats

Oral Presentation: Pecha Kucha

Interactive Presentation  



Oral Presentation: Pecha Kucha

A Pecha Kucha is a style of presenting involving strict timings, with 20 slides, each lasting 20 seconds (total of 6 minutes 40 seconds). The constraints of the format encourage you to be concise, think about the narrative of your research, and to create an engaging presentation to encourage a dialogue (the tem Pecha Kucha is Japanese for “the sound of conversation” or “chit chat”). It is an ideal format for a multi disciplinary conference like SPARC.

You can download a power point template for a Pecha Kucha here. The slides are set to change every 20 seconds so all you need to do is add the content.

When putting together your slides, remember to think visually, and use text in a minimal way. It’s a good idea to rehearse your presentation thoroughly to get the timings right.

Presenters who have used the format for conferences have found it a really useful exercise. If, however, you prefer not to use the 20x20 format, you can do a more conventional presentation lasting the same amount of time (max 7 minutes), but without the same constraints on the timing and number of slides.

There are lots of examples of Pecha Kuchas online and several resources to help you plan this type of presentation. The following resources are particularly recommended: 

  • ‘Preparing a Pecha Kucha’ on The Digital Doctorate blog – with tips and links to other resources.
  • Richard Edwards’ blog on using Pecha Kucha in the classroom. This is a really good post for explaining the various benefits of using the Pecha Kucha format, in comparison to more conventional power point presentations. It also contains useful strategies for planning a presentation.
  • Why and how to give an Ignite talk  - a demonstration by Scott Burkun (an Ignite talk is similar to a Pecha Kucha but with shorter timings – 20 slides each 15 seconds, total of 5 mins). This advice applies equally to both types of presentation. 

You can find lots of recordings of Pecha Kuchas online. Try browsing the Pecha Kucha 20x20 site, which features a ‘presentation of the day’ feature.  Here are a few examples that are focused on research:

You can also watch Pecha Kuchas given by University of Salford academics, recorded in 2013 as part of a ‘Research Exchange Powered by Pecha Kucha’ series. 


Interactive Presentation

There will be a dedicated space at SPARC 17 for researchers who would like to present their work in a more interactive format.  For example, if you are engaged in practice-led research in Arts and Media, this might be a performance, exhibition or screening of your work, or a reading of creative writing. Or if you are working in Health Computing, Environment or Life Sciences, you may like to do a demonstration of your work. You can also choose to run a workshop for more active audience participation.

Please get in touch with the SPARC team at to discuss your ideas and practical requirements (such as timing, space and equipment) before submitting an abstract. You can present individually or as part of a team. 



Posters are a means of communicating your research visually, and should combine graphics with text. They should be able to communicate ideas and methods to a non specialist audience. Posters will be displayed throughout the conference, but there will also be a dedicated poster session where audience members can speak to you alongside your poster.

There are lots of web resources that offer guidance on creating research posters effectively, including:

  • An interactive online tutorial from the University of Leicester (please note you need Adobe Flash Player for this): Designing an academic poster online tutorial
  • Presentation on designing an academic poster from Cornell University. With examples of good and bad practice.
  • George Hess et al at the North Carolina State University have created an entire website on the subject of poster presentations. This includes videos, examples, and sections on writing the abstract and presenting the poster during a conference: Creating effective poster presentations
  • The University of Oxford has a detailed guide on how to use PowerPoint to create academic posters. This is useful once you have an idea of the overall design of your poster. 
  • New York University has some top tips for research posters, including examples of good and bad designs.
  • The University of Alabama has some good guidelines on basc design, with guidelines on the best font sizes, image resolutions etc. 
  • Evolutionary Biologist Colin Purrington offers advice and free templates on his blog, and includes tips on how to present your poster at a conference

You can find University of Salford poster templates on this page