Giving a Conference Paper

You may want to share your research by giving a paper at a conference. Conferences are very interactive so are a good way to get quick feedback on your work as well as network with others in your field. Conference papers last 20 mins so should be between 2400-3000 words, depending on how fast you talk. This is generally shorter than a journal article (depending on the journal) and should therefore be more condensed or focused on one aspect of your research. When writing your paper you should consider 2 or 3 clear points you want to make, then structure your paper around those points. It is a good idea to have these points on your final slide so the audience can see them while you are concluding. You should build a clear, logical argument that the audience can follow, so do not use jargon or overly complicated language. You should also consider who your audience are when writing the paper, are they specialists in your field? Are they more generalists in your field? Are they possibly from a different discipline all together? Use this knowledge to tailor the paper appropriately, if they are specialists then you can assume a certain amount of knowledge, if they are not from your discipline then you will probably have to give a little more context at the beginning.

The Writing Centre, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

This online handout gives handy tips and tools for writing your conference paper:


Once you have written the paper you should practice to make sure your timings are right and to become more confident in what you are saying. Type your paper with larger font than usual and double spaced so it is easier to read. It might also be useful to mark where you are changing slides if you have created a PowerPoint presentation. Most conferences will have a projector available so you can make a visual presentation to supplement your talk. Ensure your slides are clear and keep the text to key points, facts, statistic etc , if the audience have a lot of text to read on the slide they will struggle to listen to you as well. In the video below a PhD student offers useful advice about giving a talk at a conference, how to format your slides and other things to consider.