Narrated Slideshows: Academic Presentation for an Online World

Thomas Mayers, Flaminia Miyamasu, Medical English Communications Center, University of Tsukuba

Quick Guide

  • Keywords: Academic presentation, narrated slideshow, online learning
  • Learner English level: Intermediate to advanced
  • Learner maturity: University
  • Preparation: Approximately 5 hours
  • Activity time: Approximately 7 hours
  • Materials: Computer or tablet computer

We teach a 20-week graduate course titled English in Medical Science and Technology. Part of the course is a five-week module on scientific presentation that would normally culminate in students giving in-class presentations about their research. However, with the pandemic forcing the course online, we have instead worked towards the students creating three-minute narrated slideshows. A narrated slideshow involves recording the presenter’s voice onto the slideshow, which is synchronized to each slide and animated element. The video lectures are delivered weekly, and, apart from assignment deadlines, students work at their own pace. The step-by-step approach is well received, produces excellent results, and equips the students with useful multimedia skills. This presentation activity is easily adaptable to any research topic in the sciences or humanities.



Step 1: Source or create materials to help guide students in the preparation and delivery of presentations.

Step 2: Systematically divide the materials into video lectures that guide students through the creation–presentation process (the details of which are described in the Procedure below).

Step 3: Use Google Forms or an online course-administration system to deliver the course materials.


Step 1: Have students watch a video lecture on the planning, preparation, and structure of a scientific presentation. Announce the following module assignment: “Prepare and narrate a 3-minute, 4-slide presentation on the theme of “Introduction to My Research Topic.” Specify the contents of each slide as follows: (1) Title slide, (2) My research topic and what is known about it, (3) What is unknown about my research topic or a problem related to it, (4) The research question my study will address. For homework, have students write their presentation scripts (approximately 300 words); check these later for English errors.

Step 2: Have students watch a video lecture on further aspects of scientific presentation, including the importance of practice and tips for pronunciation and delivery. For homework, have students create their presentation slides. Check these later for English errors.

Step 3: Have students watch a video lecture on effective slide design including use of fonts, colors, animation, and graphics. For homework, have students improve the design of their slides, particularly the functionality of the slides for narrated delivery.

Step 4: Have students watch video instruction on how to create a narrated slideshow, including the recording of narration, timing of slides, and exporting of the file in video format. For homework, have students complete and submit their narrated slideshow videos. After receiving all the assignments, create an assessment sheet (Microsoft Excel) that provides links to each student’s video (stored in Google Drive) and assessment criteria.

Step 5: Have students use the assessment sheet to watch, assess, and comment on their classmates’ narrated slideshows. Collate and share these peer assessments with students. 



To conclude, this activity has some noteworthy strengths. Firstly, the systematic way in which each step of the presentation preparation allows for fine-tuning of each presentation element. Secondly, the presentation theme is relevant and therefore highly motivating and stimulating for students, as is watching and assessing their peers’ presentations. Finally, the skills learned in this module are practical and useful for any student’s career as increasingly journals are requesting video abstracts, conferences and meetings are held online, and technological competence is demanded in the workplace.