Lode recently blogged about a seminar by Microsoft Research on how to give a great research talk, starring John Krumm, Patrick Baudisch, Rick Szeliski and Mary Czerwinski.
Some other resources I recommend are “How to give a good research talk” by Simon Peyton Jones, and the Presentation Zen blog. These should already provide you with the basics for giving a good (research) talk. Here is what I personally found useful in the Microsoft Research session:
- Use animations sparingly: animations are only useful to illustrate a process in your system, or make something more clear to the audience. Don’t overdo it. In my opinion, I offended against this rule with my EIS 2007 presentation. Some animations were useful, but a lot of them were unnecessary. When I gave part of this presentation to a few other researchers some time after the conference, one of them commented that I should contact George Lucas about the effects and transitions
- Use pictures for related work: Patrick argued that a lot of people remember pictures from papers they read, so using a visual representation of the related work is more useful than a list of references.
- Try to demo the current status of your future work: Rick showed the future work demo of their photo tourism paper he gave during his talk at SIGGRAPH. This way you give the audience evidence that you’re actively improving upon your work.
- Tactics to handle rude questions: Mary gave a few tips for dealing with rude questions such as repeating the question that was posed. This is always useful to indicate how you have understood it. Furthermore, it gives people in the audience a second chance if they did not understand the person who posed the question.
All in all an interesting seminar, might be useful to organize something similar at our institute in the future. Thanks to Lode for sharing the link on his blog.
Today Lode will give the first of a series of internal talks at our group. He will talk about multimodal interaction in virtual environments.
I’m looking forward to it, as these talks should be interesting to start some discussion.
My own talk will introduce semantic web technologies, and is due on September 8.
Came across an article describing the process behind the curtains of Apple’s keynotes by Steve Jobs.
I always found his presentations very good. He surely manages to get, and maybe even more important, keep your attention. Ok, sometimes he exaggerates a bit, but if you want to draw people’s attention or convince people of your opinion, I suggest you have a look at one of his presentations, and start learning. A good candidate might be yesterday’s Macworld keynote, where Steve introduced the first Intel-based Mac. You might also have a look at last year’s WWDC keynote (where Steve introduced the move to Intel, and had to explain why this was necessary and beneficial).
The article discusses what I already suspected: the presentations are very carefully planned and prepared. Having it all in your head in advance allows you to concentrate more on the message you’re trying to transfer, and leaves room to improvise.
A common mistake when presenting is putting far too much content on your slides. To the audience, it’s like trying to read an article in a 9pt font with no paragraph divisions. After a while, you just give up.
A lot of tips and tricks about giving presentations can be found at Presentation Zen. It also features an article comparing the presentation styles of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.