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

• 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? 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

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 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 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

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