Essay on At the Podium: Techniques to Perfect Your Talk

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At the Podium: Techniques to Perfect Your Talk
Steve Dewhurst Dept. of Microbiology & Immunology

Outline
• Structuring your talk • Preparing your slides: format & content (data) • Presenting your talk • Communicating new or complex ideas • Problems, Questions and Interruptions • Conclusions

Before You Start: Know Your Audience

• Who: are your audience? • What: do you want to tell them? • Why: are they coming to your talk?

http://do512.com/event/2010/10/05/ unreleased-movie-audience-testscreening-free

Structuring Your Talk

Structure of an Effective Talk
• Tell them what you’re about to tell them: 1-3 main points in your introduction • Tell them: Give the talk (data) • Tell them what you told them: Summarize your main points in the conclusion
- Stephanie Pfirman, Giving Research Presentations www.ldeo.columbia.edu/~martins/sen_sem/sci.../Scientific_talk.ppt

Think of Your Talk as a Story
Your talk (and your data) should tell a story. That story should: • Be memorable: Have one main message • Be short, simple and linear: No detours • Be on point: Build to your message • Be respectful of your audience: End on time, and don’t force too much in there http://literacyminute.blogspot.com/ 2012/10/i-want-my-hat-back.html

“Compose one sentence that summarizes …(the) home message for the audience…. (then) decide on a few major points that support the message.”
- Jay Harolds. Clin. Nucl Med. 37:763, 2012

A Corrolary of This…

Start planning your talk by working first on your conclusions slide
- Jay Harolds. Clin. Nucl. Med. 37:872, 2012 http://floor-to-ceiling-books.blogspot.com/ 2011/11/thats-all-folks.html

Suggested Slide Allocation
• Title (1): Plus your name, organization • Introduction (1): Say what you are going to say • Significance (1): Background & why your study matters • Aim (1): State the aim or main hypothesis you tested • Methods (0-2): Usually minimal (clinical trials may differ) • Results (4-6): Give your main results • Conclusions (1): Summarize (1-3 bullet points) • Acknowledgments (1): Funding, Collaborators • Thank you (1): Provides closure

Some Personal Rules

• Keep to time: Use no more than 1 slide/minute
• Leave a place for questions: Try to provoke thought • Don’t trust the software: Have backups (in PDF) • Arrive early/know the room

Preparing Your Talk: Slide Format

KISS: Keep It Short and Simple and KILL: Keep it Large and Legible
- Terry Smith: Making Successful Presentations (Wiley, 1991) (referenced in Estrada et al., Am J Med Sci 329:306-209, 2005)

Some Personal Rules: Slides
• Be legible: Use 24 point text as the default • Consistency: Adopt a uniform look-and-feel. Ensures that (intentional) differences convey meaning. • Ruthlessly minimize text: 6 bullet points/slide (max) • Use data sparingly: Make one point/slide • Use narrative slide titles: Helps focus attention • Never show a slide people can’t read: Everyone hates it when a speaker says “I realize you can’t read this, but..”

Why Font Matters
14 point

18 point

24 point

28 point

36 point
DON’T USE ALL CAPITAL LETTERS BECAUSE THEY ARE HARD TO READ AND ANNOYING

Managing Color

Dark letters on a light background can work well

Managing Color

Light letters on a dark background work well too

For large rooms, a dark blue or black background can work well

Preparing Your Talk: Slide Content

“Providing too much information (such as extraneous graphics, text or audio) is a problem...because this forces viewers to search for the relevant information, which requires effort”
- Stephen Kosslyn et al. Front. Psychol. 3:320, 2012 (The principle of “Relevance”)

Some Corrolaries of This Principle
• Information content: Should be linked to the take-home message (is it necessary or extraneous?) • Graphics: Can help convey concepts, but should be carefully chosen • People organize information into narratives: So…