Some Resources from Steve EasterbrookI used some of Professor Ryan Johnson’s slides from his talk “Creating Beautiful Presentations”. There’s lots more in this talk that’s worth thinking about. One slide in particular from Ryan’s talk that I meant to show on Tuesday, but forgot, is slide 42, on showing equations. I know some of you will end up wanting to put equations on your slides when you present your work. Remember that the only people in the audience that will be able to make sense of a detailed equation are the people who are already familiar with that equation (and hence don’t need to see it again). So instead of the equation, summarize the relationship it captures in a way that’s readable (the alternative Ryan gives here is excellent!).
I also mentioned a free e-book, “Why Bad Presentations Happen to Good Causes.” As we discussed, the book is aimed at people working in the non-profit sector, rather than scientists. However, most of what he says applies to any talk. I thoroughly recommend reading this all the way through. Whenever you get to a bit where you think “Oh, this doesn’t apply to my research talk”, stop and think about whether that’s really true. Is a technical talk really that different? It’s okay to ignore some of the advice, only if you’ve thought carefully about the reasons for ignoring it!
Here are some more approaches you might find useful:
- A comprehensive but concise 3-page list of tips for giving great talks, aimed at technical disciplines like CS: http://www.d.umn.edu/~jgallian/goodPPtalk.pdf.
- A great demonstration of how to use PowerPoint much more effectively (some of the before/after examples on slide design are wonderful): http://www.slideshare.net/treubold/fight-the-powerpoint
- For those of you who have never seen Prezi before, here’s an example that demonstrates many of the cool things you can do with it: http://prezi.com/pakaaiek3nol/timeline-of-climate-modeling/
- And here’s another example that uses Prezi much more like PowerPoint, but with the occasional use of the zooming feature to shake things up a little. (This presentation won’t make a lot of sense without the voice-over that goes with it, but you can step through the slides to get the idea of how I used it): http://prezi.com/qngegm6n7czs/systems-thinking-and-climate-change-understanding-the-dynamics-of-societal-inertia/. The key idea with Prezi is that you lay things out on an infinite canvas, making important things bigger, and the detailed explanations much smaller. You then create a path, which consists of a linked series of ‘views’, and Prezi takes care of the zooming and scrolling effect as you move from one view to the next. The grey frames you can see in some of the Prezis are defined ‘views’, although you can hide these frames if you prefer, so they don’t clutter the screen. The biggest change from powerpoint is that these are frames that you place around bits of content, rather than slides onto which you arrange material. One more point to note. You can step through the presentation using the forward and backward arrows, which will move you along the pre-defined path of views. But you can also mouse over the presentation, and use scrolling (you do have a scroll wheel on your mouse, right?) to zoom in and out at will, and click-and-drag to move around. Which means that as presenter, you can step off the path, perhaps to handle a specific question, and then jump right back onto it with the next click of the forward arrow. Try it on the above Prezis to see what I mean.