Tips for presentations

A talk about a scientific paper is an invitation to read, not a substitute for reading

The talk

  • Know the audience: adapt the talk to them
  • Give the audience a reason to pay attention
  • Do not present the content, but guide to understanding
  • Plan the talk: tell a story
  • Focus on the main message: omit unnecessary detail
  • Keep it simple
  • Clarity trumps generality
  • Give examples
  • Explaining too much is better than explaining too little
  • Take about half the time to explain the context
  • Be clear about what is yours and what is not

The slides

  • Slides support the talk: they are not cue cards
  • Every formula has to have an immediate purpose
  • Allot time for each section of your talk
  • Allocate two minutes per slide, on pain of rushing through the last few
  • Number your slides, so that questions can refer to them
  • Name your theorems, do not number them
  • Text-heavy slides force the audience to read or to listen: they cannot do both
  • Literature lists should be in the paper, not in the talk

Do not

  • Do not go over time
  • Do not be incomprehensible
  • Do not overpack your slides
  • Do not talk yourself down
  • Do not talk other people down

The room

  • Address the whole room. Tip: choose three people, one left, one right, one in the middle, and address them in turn