Scientific Presentation Skills


Communication Skills

Target group

Members of the Doctoral Schools


All PhD students

Course aims

At the end of the course, students can expect to:

  • understand how scientific presentations are prepared, structured and constructed;
  • know the fundamental characteristics of effective communication;
  • identify common pitfalls in our age of PowerPoint and information overload;
  • know the criteria for a good presentation;
  • have learned a method to transform scientific research results into attractive, accessible. engaging and structured presentations, and learn how to apply these to their own scientific work;
  • know how to prepare the presentations themselves efficiently: think about your target audience and their needs; define your objective and key messages; search for and select relevant material, organize your thoughts logically;
  • know how to create powerful slides: clear and attractive visuals that strengthen your story rather than distract the audience;
  • be familiar with the basic skills of oral presentation itself, and have been able to practice intensively using their own working materials;
  • know how to develop a personal action plan to further develop their presentation skills based on the video recordings of their presentations and the peer feedback.

Course contents

Before the session

In order to make the training as practical and relevant as possible, the participants are asked to bring a presentation (or at least a topic) that they would like to use as a case during the that they would like to use as a case during the training.

Day 1

After an introductory meeting in which specific expectations are sought, the participants are divided into small groups.

Brainstorming exercise

They hold a brainstorming exercise on the characteristics of good and bad  presentations, in the areas of Content, Delivery and Slide Design. Points of attention for online presentations will be covered separately.
There will be a plenary discussion of the results, thus creating a general overview of essential criteria. The exercise leads to the fundamental insight that good presenting is much more a matter of method than of talent.

The structure of good presentations

On the basis of Story Theory, a storyboard model is presented (© Wim Coessens) that is generally applicable in scientific presentations to bring structure and clarity to the presentation.

Lunch break

Step-by-step method for building presentations

Based on the insights developed during the morning session, the afternoon session will be devoted to a step-by-step brainstorming exercise based of the storyboard model. The process includes the following steps:

  • thinking about the audience and their expectations;
  • thinking about your own presentation persona: what image do you want to project of yourself (and the university);
  • thinking about your objective, the central problem statement and the core message you want to convey;
  • on the basis of the above, choose the best structure for your presentation;
  • Question brainstorming: a unique and inspiring way to prepare the material for the various parts of the presentation. The participants work in threes and generate as many questions as possible that can be questions as possible that should be addressed during the presentation (selecting relevant content is much easier if you first have the relevant questions first).

Principles of slide design

The brainstorming is followed by a brief discussion of the main principles of good slide design. These principles lead to slides that reinforce the speaker's message, rather than distract from it. We'll cover the difference between presentation slides and slide decks that can serve as a post-read document, and discuss the fundamental problem that audiences cannot read large pieces of text while listening to a speaker.

Elevator-pitch exercise

The first day of training concludes with a short speaking exercise based on the brainstorm.

Between the two training days

After day 1, the participants are ready to further develop and finalize their case for presentation on Day 2.

Day 2 (preferably about a week after day 1)

The second training day is spent on the presentations of the participants. They are invited to bring a presentation (or part of it) of 7 to 10 minutes in front of the group. The presentations will be recorded, and the participants will get to see a
snippet of their own presentation. Based on the discussion and the peer feedback

  • relevant topics are identified, which will be further explored during the day;
  • participants make an individual action plan to further develop their presentation skills after the training.

Day 2 ends with an evaluation and a brief discussion of the individual
action plans.


Wim Coessens, The Works!

Wim Coessens has extensive experience as a trainer and coach and has held management positions in the media and cultural sector for many years. He was General Manager of the newspaper De Morgen and later Network Head of Radio 1, Manager of Digital Media at VRT and Director of the International Film Festival Flanders-Ghent. Since 2009 he has been active as a full time presentation coach, media trainer, writing trainer and coach in leadership, communication and negotiation. He has been a lecturer in Public Speaking at Antwerp Management School since 2011.

Wim has a strong passion for language, media, corporate storytelling and people, and more than a passion for public speaking. His workshop approach is highly interactive, evidence-based and practice-oriented.

Dates & registration

Course code Dates 2021-2022
Room/Venue Registration Link

2 + 21 December 2021

09:00 - 17:00

Het Pand

20 + 27 April 2022

09:00 - 17:00

Het Pand
Your registration will be confirmed by separate email from the Doctoral Schools.

If the course is fully booked, you can register on the waiting list.

Please read the cancellation policy: cancellationpolicycourses

Registration fee

Free of charge for Doctoral School members. The no show policy applies: no-show policy UGent

Number of participants

Max. 12



Evaluation methods and criteria (doctoral training programme)

Active participation