Scientific Presentations
The Assertion-Evidence Approach

Michael Alley, Penn State

Rethinking Presentation Slides:
The Assertion-Evidence Structure

A small, but growing, revolution is occurring in the way that engineers and scientists design their presentation slides. This revolution advocates alternatives (based on multimedia learning principles) that challenge PowerPoint's default structure of a topic-phrase headline supported by a bullet list of subtopics.

One such alternative is the assertion-evidence structure, in which a sentence headline states the main message of the slide. That message assertion is then supported not by a bullet list, but by visual evidence: photos, drawings, diagrams, graphs, films, or equations. To learn how to create assertion-evidence slides, read The Craft of Scientific Presentations or work through our guide.

One assumption of the assertion-evidence structure is that slides are, in fact, an appropriate visual aid for the talk. Another assumption is that the primary purpose of the slides is to help the audience understand and remember the content, rather than to provide talking points for the speaker. The assertion-evidence approach makes you more focused and better understood. For evidence of these claims, please see our research page.

Leonhard Center, Penn State
University Park, PA 16802

Content Editor: Michael Alley