What should a research PPT look like

Presentation in the colloquium - tips and instructions

For most students, oral exams or lectures mean real anxiety and stress. But there are others who thrive on this type of test. If you are closer to the first category, still don't worry. Because with the right preparation, you too will become a relaxed lecture professional and successfully master your colloquium.

First of all: what does colloquium mean anyway?

Some high school students may know it as the oral part of the Abitur exams. Here you normally do not have to take the exam in two subjects in writing together with all the others, but give an account individually to the examiners. You have 30 minutes of preparation time, in which you prepare a presentation on a given topic / question and then answer questions about it.
But the much better known colloquium, which this article will also deal with, is this Defense of a thesis. This can be, for example, a bachelor's or master's thesis, but also a dissertation. For a better understanding, we will use the bachelor thesis in this article, but of course the concepts also apply to other degrees. Almost every student has to present, present and / or defend his or her work in some way, and at the end it is discussed in a small group. Among those present are of course the examining professors, but research assistants, members of the relevant chair or even fellow students can also be present. This presentation with subsequent discussion is often referred to as a colloquium.
However, this article will mainly deal with the colloquium presentation, as it is an excellent preparation for this. For the following questions, you are largely on your own, but thanks to the preparatory work you have done, this part will not be a problem for you either!
The purpose of the defense is to show the examiners how well you know your research topic, that you have internalized the content you have learned and know how to apply it. A defense is not always compulsory for bachelor theses - you can find this out in your study regulations, including the extent to which, for example, the bachelor thesis presentation affects your grade. Basically, the colloquium does not save a whole grade, it is more like the icing on the cake. The advantage: You can clear up any doubts or ambiguities from your examiners and present the topic of your research again in an appealing way.

Presentation in the colloquium

Proper preparation for the colloquium is essential

Who does not know it. Finally the bachelor's or master's thesis is finished after weeks of plowing, the last formatting errors corrected, the bibliography checked one last time and then let's get rid of it. Now is the time to finally celebrate after hours at the desk, night shifts and endless discipline! And then comes the disillusionment.
It's not quite over yet, and suddenly there it is, the invitation to the colloquium. So it's back to the desk. But we have good news: you have already done most of the preparation. Because that was all the scientific research that you already did for the creation of your paper. If you are already an expert on your subject, all you have to do now is make this clear to your examiners in a clear manner. For this reason, it makes no sense to start preparing for the colloquium before the work has been completed and all doubts have been dispelled.
Your lecturer should already know what to expect - and the purpose of the colloquium is to present your results. Most students leave their work relieved and then don't bother with it anymore. This is absolutely no problem, but when the colloquium is due, it is essential to familiarize yourself with the topic in good time. To do this, you should reread your work a few more times in order to recall your results and methods. Then you can start.

The organizational aspects of your colloquium first

Find out about the exact framework conditions of the colloquium in your examination regulations. How long should the presentation last, is there any information about the type of presentation, who will be present, how is the discussion at the end structured? It has been proven that nervousness is significantly reduced if you know exactly what to expect. You should take advantage of that.
You should also think about the clothes you want to wear during the presentation and whether you want to hand out a handout.
If you cannot find any information on this, here are a few tips: When it comes to clothing, you should orientate yourself on the subject and the clothing of your lecturer. If he always keeps his lectures in a suit, you can assume that he values ​​formal clothing. In general, you should pay attention to a well-groomed appearance and proper clothing, but you should also feel comfortable in them. Uncomfortable shoes or clothing that is too tight could adversely affect the way you speak.
Even if it is not explicitly requested, a handout is always useful.
It shows your reviewers that you have thought about it and makes it easier for them to follow the structure of your presentation. Perhaps you can even control the subsequent discussion, because there is a chance that the examiners will use your handout as a guide when they ask their questions.

The colloquium presentation


The technical aspects of your colloquium presentation

The most popular tool for a bachelor thesis presentation is PowerPoint. Before you start looking at the content, you should make sure that you are familiar with the functions. This also includes being on site in good time on the day of the presentation to ensure that the technology works.
Very important for PowerPoint presentations: No childish transitions, too colorful slides or exotic fonts. This is a scientific colloquium presentation, your slides should also express this. Keep it classic and factual, otherwise your statements will lose their seriousness. Use a uniform font and a neutral (preferably white) background.
The general motto for such presentations is: Keep It Simple. Overloaded slides create restlessness and distract from the important aspects. Basically you should use as little text or bullet points as possible, but with colloquium presentations you have to keep in mind that you should document your achievements precisely. Room for interpretation is very dangerous here. It always depends on the preferences of the examiner, but a little more text than in normal presentations is definitely allowed. If the topic of your work allows, graphics, images or flowcharts are a good way to offer a bit of variety and to illustrate complex issues clearly.

Structure / structure of a successful colloquium presentation

Like your thesis, your colloquium PowerPoint presentation should follow a certain structure. It is advisable to use the structure of your work as a guide. After all, you have put a lot of thought into this and made sure that everything is in a logical context.
This saves you additional work. But remember - the presentation is not about retelling your thesis. Include only the most important and interesting aspects. In the following we present a possible structure of a bachelor thesis presentation:

1) relevance

In your work you dealt intensively with a research question. In the first part of your Colloquium PowerPoint presentation you will present it and explain why it is so relevant. What is the benefit for science, the general public, for a specific company? Why exactly this question? This is how you show your audience why you chose your topic and why you should be given attention.

2) background

Then the background of the research question is explained in more detail, i.e. the most important theories and approaches that may already exist on the topic. This helps the audience not to be “thrown into” the complex context completely unprepared. This part also illustrates the basis on which you have built your work.

3) method

In this part you explain how you approached your work. Have you done qualitative or quantitative research? Did you conduct interviews, did you analyze data or did you evaluate relevant literature? Here you can show your examiners how carefully you have worked and explain why you chose this particular method.

4) Results

The results of your research are presented here. Were there any surprises and how can they be explained? Are the results relevant and reliable, where did you encounter difficulties and how did you solve them? Use this part to talk transparently and honestly about your research. In this way you can prove that you have dealt with the topic in detail and have not simply chosen the easiest way.

5) Conclusion

At the end you summarize your work in a few words and answer the research question asked at the beginning. You are also welcome to provide your personal opinion on whether you have come to the expected result or whether your research has come to a surprising conclusion.

6) sources

Whether you still have to present your sources at the end of your bachelor thesis presentation, you should definitely discuss with your examiner or read the examination regulations. In case of doubt, however, you are on the safe side with a list of sources.

Present in the colloquium

Colloquium presentation example

Since every bachelor thesis is different, there is no generally applicable template for a successful PowerPoint colloquium bachelor thesis presentation. However, on the Internet you can find numerous examples of what a well-structured and appealing PowerPoint presentation can look like. These can serve as a guide, but it is important to tailor the presentation to suit you and your audience. As in your bachelor thesis, a common thread should run through the presentation. If possible, you can also ask your lecturer or academic advisor whether they can show you a colloquium presentation example from previous years or give you special tips on what to look out for.

With our tips for a successful colloquium presentation

General tips for a successful presentation

Almost there! Your PowerPoint colloquium bachelor thesis presentation is ready and you feel confident in the topic of your research work again. But for most of them, the stress is just beginning. The content is often not the problem, but speaking in front of others. You have to be aware that in order to be able to defend a bachelor thesis, you first have to be attacked.

  1. So be prepared for critical questions and comments. It is best to think in advance what criticism you might find of your work and come up with good answers. It helps to let fellow students or family members read your work, or at least to give the presentation before.

  2. You should definitely do the latter anyway. Practicing your presentation a few times for yourself and for others in a relaxed environment will help you feel more confident about your official presentation. In addition, your trial audience may be able to discover any inconsistencies that you may not have noticed yourself. It can often also add valuable comments to the look of your presentation, your speaking style or body language.

  3. Body language is very important in the presentation and can affect your persuasiveness. Stand (or sit upright, if you wish) - walking up and down seems engaged, but you should make sure that you do not appear restless and that you can be easily understood at all times (i.e. not averting your face from the audience) . Gestures underline your words, but too much “fidgeting” seems nervous.

  4. Many people tend to talk very quickly during presentations, probably to get the whole thing over with as quickly as possible. That is understandable, but should be avoided at all costs. Try to breathe calmly and speak evenly. Your trial audience can give you very good feedback here. If you are practicing your presentation at home, you will stop time to make sure you are sticking to it. Knowing that you can easily stay in time, even when speaking calmly, can prevent you from rushing during the official lecture for fear of being overdone.


In general: think carefully about what you want to say - but avoid memorizing your entire presentation. That sounds directly contrived and throws you off track if you can't think of a word or if someone asks a question. It is best to just make a few bullet points and otherwise speak freely.
Then take another deep breath, reminding yourself that you have no reason to be nervous. Nobody knows the topic of your work as well as you do. You have researched for a long time and are now an expert in the field.
A little small talk with the examiners at the beginning is always well received and also helps you to relax a little. And then you can start - you have practiced and are well prepared to give an impressive colloquium presentation! I wish you success!

Tom Becker-Schweitzer is the founder, owner and managing director of PresentationLoad GmbH. As an expert in professional business presentations, he writes about his experience as a PowerPoint trainer, coach and designer and provides valuable tips and ideas. For over 20 years he has been supporting medium-sized companies and corporations in creating convincing company presentations. Do you have any questions or do you need help with your presentations? Then just write an email to [email protected]