Giving scientific presentations that aren’t dry and boring, and that people outside your field can understand is a learned skill. Not everyone can meet the challenge. This article collects some tips and links to help you give scientific presentations and other types of presentations like a boss.
An article in Nature, Top tips for giving an engaging talk, provides advice from three researchers that presented at TED events. It’s full of useful information for science communicators. For example:
- Immunologist Faith Osier says: “You have to offer enough detail without getting too much into the nitty-gritty.”
- Physicist Shohini Ghose reminds us: “Being engaged with the public doesn’t come for free in terms of time. One fewer TED talk would allow me to publish extra research or to go to other conferences. I don’t think that it’s for everybody. It has to match your career goals.”
- Climate scientist Gavin Schmidt suggests that we should choose a main point, and each “slide should push that point further rather than go off on an ancillary detail.” This helps to reduce clutter. He also says recording a great talk is worth the investment: “Being able to point people who have contacted me with questions to the TED talk also saves me an enormous amount of time.”
Looking for more recommendations on scientific presentations? Check out these links for more details! Not that everyone has different advice and some give advice that conflicts with what others recommend. Take what works for you and don’t feel pressured to follow all of the “rules”.
- Speak your science: How to give a better conference talk is a little long but one of the best articles I’ve seen on this topic. The author recommends considering the who, what, how, and why of your presentation (I’ve given presentations myself on a similar strategy for scicomm).
- Scientific presentations: A cheat sheet presents concrete ideas on how to develop a successful presentation. For example, do you use an outline slide in your presentations? Coming back to your outline can help the audience see where you’re going in your talk, but be careful not to have a useless outline with non-descriptive words like “Introduction” and “Conclusion”.
- 10 Keys to an Engaging Scientific Presentation shares some little discussed details. For example, don’t use full sentences on your slides. Use enough words on the slide to help the audience get your point, but most of the presentation should be spoken.
- If you are looking for a really deep dive on the topic, consider How To Give a Talk. Each page has great advice, organized into the following topics:
- For a reverse view, read 18 tips for giving a horrible presentation. It’s hilarious, and a great reminder of what not to do! The commenters add even more bad examples.
These are just a few of the hundreds if not thousands of resources out there. What resources or guidelines about scientific presentations have you found helpful?