Turning Your Good Science into an Effective Presentation

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Presentation skills apply to more
than any single event…
Turning Your Good Science
into an Effective Presentation
• Poster & oral presentations
• Seminars, journal clubs, job talks
• Written communications
– Grant applications, research reports
– Thesis-related documents
– Job application letters
STOWERS INSTITUTE
February 2008
Jeff Radel, Ph.D.
• Attracting potential funding or students
University of Kansas
Medical Center
• Speaking with regular folks . . .
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Today’s goals -
Different presentations, common
elements among settings
(the “do as I say, not as I do” part…)
• Dissertation defense
• Job interview
• What makes a good presentation?
• Classroom lecture
• What makes a good poster?
• Press conference
• Formatting issues
• Scientific conference
• The finishing touches…
• Your child’s 5th grade science class
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At the onset:
Critical Errors to avoid
More critical errors …
• The wrong talk for that audience
• Presenter not adequately prepared
• The wrong delivery for that setting
• Presenter not paying enough attention
to the audience during the talk
• Loosing your audience
• Presenter not maintaining composure
– At the start
– In midstream
• Pedantic, monotonic, simplistic delivery
• Poorly designed visuals
• Disregard for Murphy’s law
– Slides that no one is willing to read
– Information that no one will remember later
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Essential Ingredients
What makes a
• Content & substance - not showmanship!
good presentation?
• A compelling question is stated
• That question must then be addressed!
• Conclusion & implications presented
• Logical organization throughout
• Clarity of presentation throughout
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Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes (publicity photo ca. 1940)
… but these help, too!
• Gain & keep attention of the audience
• Provide a framework for the question
– At the beginning & again at the end
• Present findings in an interesting way
• Supply a take-home message
• Invite & obtain feedback
Making a good first impression,
even before you say anything
• Attitude
• Personality
• Costume
• Meet the audience
– Very helpful in job talks
– Helps limit stage fright
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How do you present yourself?
Before you leave home …
• Making eye contact
• Determine audience expectations
• Estimate audience expertise
• Organize overview
–
–
–
–
–
Do look at the audience
Do not try to look at each audience member
Do not look at only one individual
Divide audience into groups, then looking at ‘groups’
Include the back rows, and the far left & right sides
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–
–
–
• Projecting your voice projects confidence
– Use a microphone!
• Identify essential content
• Remove the rest!
• Use patterns & verbal cues to signal
transitions
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Present the ‘Big Picture’
Develop a logical flow of concepts
Use transitions among concepts (not “uhms” & “ahhs”)
State the implications of your findings clearly
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Avoid overused approaches to
gaining audience attention!
Outlining - old school linear process
• Long-winded introductions
Start
• Obscure quotes
The Far Side Gary Larson
Subjects
Test conditions
Data collection
Data Analysis
• Methods
• Cartoons
• Results
• Consider using an
interesting photo or
an unusual approach
Hypothesis
Rationale
Background
Research Questions
• Introduction
Descriptive statistics
Statistical comparisons
Figures
Restate hypothesis
Summarize findings
Interpret outcomes
Implications?
• Conclusion
End
• Props help, too - but
only if context allows
• Future studies
Basil Rathbone & Errol Flynn in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)
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Outlining - the way it wasn’t
taught in high school
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Identify potential avenues related
to the main topic
Archetypal
hero
Errol Flynn
Robin Hood
evolution
outlaw
Real or
myth?
Saxons
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Lampião
The historical approach
The literary approach
Ishikawa Goemon
nonEuropean
Nezumi Kozō
Rummu Jüri
Hong Gildong
The Scarlet Pimpernel
Zorro
Ivanhoe
Robin Hood
evolution
outlaw
Real or
myth?
‘Forest Law’
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(court records)
(1st written
reference)
yeoman
vs.
Richard I
(LionHeart)
Robin Hood
c.1377
Saxons
Norman
conquest
William
‘Robehod’
1261
Archetypal
hero
nobleman
c.1400-50
Barnsdale
vs.
Sherwood
(most references)
Real:
Fulk fitzWarin
Eustace the Monk 16
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Lampião
An overview shows new nonEuropean
relations & insights
The popular culture approach
Best:
Robin Hood:
Men in Tights
1993
D. Mel Brooks
(PG-13)
Captain Blood, 1935
The Adventures of Robin Hood, 1938
The Sea Hawk, 1940
b. 1909, Tasmania
d. 1959
Statutory
rape trial,
1942
Best:
Errol Flynn
Robin Hood
66 x movies
11 x tv-movies
1 x made for video
9 x tv series
Statutory
rape trial,
1942
Worst?
Worst?
Cuban Island
Girls, 1942
Cuban Island
Girls, 1942
Nezumi Kozō
Rummu Jüri
Hong Gildong
The Scarlet Pimpernel
Captain Blood, 1935
The Adventures of Robin Hood, 1938
The Sea Hawk, 1940
b. 1909, Tasmania
d. 1959
IMDb search:
Ishikawa Goemon
Ivanhoe
Errol Flynn
Archetypal
hero
IMDb search:
66 x movies
11 x tv-movies
1 x made for video
9 x tv series
Robin Hood
evolution
outlaw
Real or
myth?
William
‘Robehod’
1261
(court records)
(1st written
reference)
yeoman
vs.
Richard I
(LionHeart)
sexual
preference?
c.1377
Saxons
Norman
conquest
Robin Hood:
Men in Tights
1993
D. Mel Brooks
(PG-13)
Zorro
nobleman
c.1400-50
Barnsdale
vs.
‘Forest Law’
Sherwood
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(most references)
Real:
Fulk fitzWarin
Eustace the Monk 19
Adding flavor to a presentation
What makes a
good poster?
• Use of analogies, examples, or stories
• Develop a personal connection with the
audience
• Provide an unusual perspective
• Incorporate humor *
• Note - each approach also has risks!
… these points also apply to
other presentation formats!
* Only if you already possess this trait….
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Why discuss posters here?
Effective Poster Presentations
• The most common format for
presenting data
• How do you attract
potential readers?
• Often the initial way new data are
presented
• How best to present
your information?
• A good way to obtain feedback quickly
• How can you help
your readers to
understand these
fascinating data?
• More difficult to prepare than a talk!
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Standing out from the crowd
A poster is three different talks
• Start with a good abstract
Match your presentation to the viewer:
• Less than 1 minute
– Choose session, title, key words carefully!
— “So what’s the bottom line?”
• A large, clear, well organized poster will
attract casual viewers (and combats poster fatigue…)
• Dress appropriately
• 1 - 3 minutes
— “Tell me about your poster.”
(but wear comfortable shoes)
• 5+ minutes
— “We’ve been working on something similar. What
have you found?”
— Let this viewer lead the discussion!
• Approach potential viewers
• No need to include all the details!
– Bring along additional information as handouts
– Distribute your e-mail address for later contact
PRACTICE !
Design the poster to help you!
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While we have an example a word about using clip art
Presenting a poster
• Simple
• Good opportunity for 1-on-1 interactions
– Loads quickly
– Primary colors
• Approach, introduce,
offer help - but don’t
get in the way!
• Not usually
copyrighted
• Offer a talk if a group
of viewers is present
• Available for
many topics
• A pointer can be a
helpful tool
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Clint Eastwood in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)
While we have another example a word about not using clip art
• May suggest an over-simplification
• May not do justice
to your topic
• An topical photo
generates more
interest!
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Posters the Good , the Bad and the Ugly
• Many elements of design are personal
taste but …
• Consider the impression
you are making in a
professional setting
• Clarity is the single most
important element
• Must still be effective
when you aren’t there!
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A good example of poor planning
Organizing your poster
• A good poster starts with good organization
– Design it for the reader, not you!
– Make use of straight lines, large headings, common
elements & colors
– The poster should speak for you
• Organize your data, then sketch a basic
layout
• Modify your design to fit the
presentation space & the rules of
meeting
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Sketch a poster layout for your
chosen topic
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Errol Flynn in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)
Sketch a poster layout
ROBIN HOOD - the Person and the Myth
Questions:
• Was Robin Hood a real
person?
• Is the story accurate?
Circumstantial evidence
Tales & Ballads
• tunnels in church
catacombs
• rapid popular acceptance of
stories
Background:
•
•
•
•
Prototype of hero
Pre-Norman society
Feudalism
Crusades
Norman conquests
• hero rises to defend downtrodden
• chivalry as code of ethics
• spin off of other heroic figures
- (list)
-
Hollywood films
classics
Conclusions:
Historical evidence:
• Court records
• Royal succession
• Contemporaries
- Fulk fitzWarin
- Eustace the Monk
1922
1938
parodies
1964
1993
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Generic organization of a poster’s
elements
Your poster might look like this ….
• Title – adhere to this meeting’s style
• Background – keep it short
(is the abstract needed?)
• Hypothesis/question – LARGE & BOLD
• Methods – minimal!
– You may want to include a schematic diagram
– The font size can be smaller
– If details are essential, provide a handout
• Funding sources?
• Conflict of interest statement?
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Clarity is essential make it easy to read!
Key elements for all poster figures
• Larger is better
• Include titles
• Include labels or legends
in the figure
• Make everything big - really
Effect of tastebud
removal on weight
in mice
big!
• Avoid including distracting information
• Must be able to read it from 6-8 feet
• Use color sparingly
• Include too much text & it won’t be read
• Simple is better
• Use ‘sans serif’ fonts
• Don’t include it if
you’re not going to
use it!
(Arial, Helvetica)
• Use all available space - but not for text!
• Use graphics whenever possible
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On the right track,
but not there yet...
Pretty, but too much effort to read!
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Remember that rough sketch
of a poster?
This stands a chance of being read
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Summary of poster design
Formatting issues:
• Big, clear, logical
• Consider your viewer
Hints, warnings,
& pesky details …
– Too many posters to read but not enough time!
– Other things to do, places to be, and people to see,
so why should they read your poster?
– Often presented in a large, noisy, poorly-lit room
– Jet lagged? Sleep deprived? Sore feet?
Note that many of these elements also
apply to the writing of grants and
publishing papers!
• Practice presenting it beforehand
• Keep coffee & food far, far away!
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Seminars, lectures, job talks ...
How many slides will I need?
• Primary goal: inform your audience
• Determining the number of slides and
packing a suitcase are similar tasks
• Secondary goals:
• You need a clear idea of your goal
– Convince skeptics
– Challenge dogma
– Demonstrate teaching skills
• Ruthless editing is essential!
• Guide the audience through the logic of your
arguments
• Estimate 1 concept = 5 slides
(1 concept = 1 poster)
• Each slide requires 1 - 2 minutes
• Build stepwise from a basic premise
Do the math!
• Use transitions to bridge these steps
A 50 minute talk = ~ 5 concepts
~ 35 real slides
• Everyone tries to present too much data
(title, collaborators, etc. don’t count)
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Worst of all . . .
Be aware of the environment!
• Room too dark?
• The only exit door is located at the front of
the room… and everyone has pagers
• Poor contrast?
• Distracting color scheme?
Solution?
Visit lecture setting
ahead of time,
to allow for any
necessary
modifications!
(117 words)
• Computer screen ≠ projected image!
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too much text!
A focused and understandable communication of ideas is an essential
aspect of any form of scholarly communication. Effective
communication therefore is an important - but o$en overlooked and
certainly underpracticed - skill in all scientific and academic
endeavors. Although efforts are made to teach the elements of
writing a journal article or developing a grant application in many
graduate school curricula, much less attention is paid to teaching and
practicing the skills necessary to produce consistently good
presentations in other scientific forums. Your decisions about how to
formulate and organize the presentation, and which visual aids to
use in order to maximize visual impact, can make a striking
difference in the strength and clarity of your presentation.
• Too noisy? Hot? Cold?
• Text (or figures!) too small?
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Slide headline
How large is big enough?
Slide headlines provide guideposts
• Rule of thumb - the proper size looks
too big!
• Use a ‘headline’ placed at the top of
each slide
• It orients audience more rapidly
• Estimates?
– prop your feet up in front of the computer monitor
• It maintains a logical flow
– stand over an image that’s laying on the floor
– hold your slide at arm’s distance
• It limits time spent deciphering the slide
• It forces YOU to remain focused!
Can you still make out the details?
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Maintain a uniform format
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The graphics should not mislead
• Helps unify the talk
• Use changes in format to signal
transitions
• Permits recycling of essential
slides
• Powerpoint’s ‘Master slide’ feature
allows global changes
Pie chart perspective alters true proportions
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Simplify, but show essentials
Make your data visible!
Good data,
poor format ...
Avoid:
•
•
•
•
•
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gridlines
vertical text
redundant text
odd increments for units
color scheme changes
... much better!
These data are means,
so where are the error
estimates?
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Good text format eases the
reader’s task
Good text format eases the
reader’s task Bold Arial 36 pts
• Limit how much text appears Bold Arial 28 pts
• Make the text easy to read
• Limit how much text appears
• Make the text easy to read
– Use boldface text when possible
– Use boldface text when possible Arial 24 pts
– Sans serif fonts
– Sans serif fonts
(using cross platform fonts is wise!)
– Mix Capitals & Lowercase
(using cross platform fonts is wise!)
– Mix Capitals & Lowercase
• Change size or color for emphasis!
• Change size or color for emphasis!
• Minimum size = 18 points
• Minimum size = 18 points
This is Arial at 18 points
This is Arial at 44 points
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A text caveat for slides and
other graphics…
Data Reduction - an essential
presentation skill
• Ideally, no more than 6 lines of 7 words each
• What details need to be included?
• Harder - what needs to be excluded?
• But use more text if your voice is difficult to
understand
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–
–
–
• Verify all information sources!
To clarify non-standard pronunciation
To provide a framework for the topic
To help you navigate difficult phrases
To avoid saying “uh-mm” at transitions
• Cite those sources in the presentation
• Remember the 5 second rule
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Don’t neglect the potential of other
formats!
Computers are useful, but offer
many chances for disaster!
• Technology isn’t always needed!
• Best idea - arrive early & try it out
• A blackboard is the very best tool for
interactions with an audience
• Bring your own connectors & cables
• Bring a backup on CD, but not in your
check-on luggage!
• Overheads may offer clear advantages
• Leave a backup behind
• Each format has its own problems…
(send yourself an e-mail)
• It’s best to run your talk from the
computer’s hard drive (not from a server or the internet)
• Beware the evils of Powerpoint….
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Pacing & emphasis will enhance
your message
Slides & Disaster prevention!
• Use slides if it is an unfamiliar venue
• Progressive disclosure of complex
material
• Organize your slides, mark them for
orientation, and project them beforehand
• Use a locking ring on the slide carousel
• Place important things earlier in lists or
earlier in a sequences of slides
• Take spare slide mounts & batteries
• Pause frequently
• Don’t trust anyone with your materials!
• Repeat key ideas often
• Include a final, disposable slide
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How do you conclude gracefully?
What about Questions & Answers?
• Practice the ending as often as the
beginning
• Develop and practice a strong
concluding statement
(Don’t improvise!)
• Answer that question you asked in the
introduction
• Show the ‘outline’ slide again or use a
summary slide
• ALWAYS allow time for Q & A
• Anticipate potential questions and
practice your answers to them
• Include a few more slides after the final
slide
• Direct each answer to the entire
audience
• Save esoteric or long answers for after
the talk
– Keep this slide up during the question period
– Consider using a montage of data plots for this slide
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Questions & Answers
Things that may slip past unnoticed
• Don’t rush to answer a question
• Acknowledgements
– collaborators
– funding sources or conflicts of interest
• Rephrase questions before answering
• Tactfully divert left-field questions
• Copyright, Fair Use Guidelines, and
citing sources
• You should be the one in control
• HIPAA regulations & identifiable data
– Don’t allow long-winded questions to continue
– Don’t allow arguments to develop
– This is the moderator’s job if there is one...
• Institution logos & images?
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Are handouts necessary? Yes!
What about the
• Forces the presenter to organize beforehand
mostly
– Your handout should match your talk!
Finishing Touches?
• Allows audience to take notes only as needed
• Provides everyone with a reminder of the
content
• Use slide headlines to organize the handout
– Useful when reviewing the talk later
– Useful for those who missed the talk
• Include your contact information
Marty Feldman as Igor in Young Frankenstein (1974)
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Hints for efficient practice
What about your voice?
• Read through your presentation first,
but then rehearse without the text
• Vary pace, tone, & pitch for emphasis or to
signal transitions
• Clear diction is essential
• Practice:
– Accent reduction? Use more text on slides
– Enunciate your words, especially the ends of words
– Making eye contact
– Posture
– Gestures & facial expressions
• Speak more slowly than usual
– Conversation is about 250-300 words per minute
– Presentations should be about 100 words per minute
– Use longer pauses between words
• Don’t procrastinate when you actually
are ready to practice!
• Videotaping is painful, and worthwhile!
• Repeat important points
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Attend to the final details . . .
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One last time . . .
• Provide goals for talk at start and end
• Keep it simple and clear
Plan ahead!
• Proof-read and Spell-check!
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–
–
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Before having the final version printed
Hang your poster & view it carefully
Project your slides full size
Read text aloud & in reverse order
allow time to: • practice your presentation alone
• Remember that perfection is elusive
– your time may be better spent on other projects...
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• make mistakes and revise
• practice with others
• receive and act upon their feedback
• practice some more
• think carefully about the Big Picture
• practice again!
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On Making Effective Scientific
Presentations ...
Thanks!
. . . and good luck!
Do not EVER apologize for any aspect of the presentation!
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