Tutorial 16: giving good talks (in four parts)
July 12, 2013
As the conference season heaves into view again, I thought it was worth gathering all four parts of the old Tutorial 16 (“giving good talks”) into one place, so it’s easy to link to. So here they are:
- Part 1: Planning: finding a narrative
- Make us care about your project.
- Tell us a story.
- You won’t be able to talk about everything you’ve done this year.
- Omit much that is relevant.
- Pick a single narrative.
- Ruthlessly prune.
- [You want to end up with] a structure that begins at the beginning, tells a single coherent story from beginning to end, and then stops.
- Part 2: The slides: presenting your information to be understood
- Make yourself understood.
- The slides for a conference talk are science, not art.
- Don’t “frame” your content.
- Whatever you’re showing us, let us see it.
- Use as little text as possible.
- Use big fonts.
- Use high contrast between the text and background.
- No vertical writing.
- Avoid elaborate fonts.
- Pick a single font.
- Stick to standard fonts.
- You might want to avoid Ariel.
- Do not use MS Comic Sans Serif.
- Use a consistent colour palette.
- Avoid putting important information at the bottom.
- Avoid hatching.
- Skip the fancy slide transitions.
- Draw highlighting marks on your slides.
- Show us specimens!
- Part 3: Rehearsal: honing the story and how it’s told
- Fit into the time.
- Become fluent in delivery.
- Maintain flow and momentum.
- Decide what to cut
- Get feedback
- Part 4: Delivery: telling the story
- Speak up!
- Slow down!
- Don’t panic!
[See also: Give a talk that holds attention!]