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Constructing and Giving Research Presentations. Paul Wagner (for MICS 2005). Major Messages. Organization is Key Start by following your paper (if you have one) Otherwise, use an outline to develop your talk Emphasize interesting / stronger areas

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Constructing and Giving Research Presentations

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    1. Constructing and Giving Research Presentations Paul Wagner (for MICS 2005)

    2. Major Messages • Organization is Key • Start by following your paper (if you have one) • Otherwise, use an outline to develop your talk • Emphasize interesting / stronger areas • De-emphasize less interesting / weaker areas • Revise to Increase Quality • Practice to Increase Confidence and Delivery • Avoid the Common Problems • Running Out of Time • Reading Your Slides • Others…

    3. Organization • What you know/have done guides your talk • Start by outlining • Based on paper if written • Based on knowledge, current research • Same sections can be used as for papers; e.g. • Introduction • Background • Work Done / Contributions Made / Primary Ideas • Future Work (if any) • Conclusions

    4. Organization (2) • Generate a template for your presentation • Steps • Develop a slide for each major idea • Write idea in title area • Place only sub-ideas in text area • If two or more major sub-ideas, give each one its own slide • Continue until have a fairly stable set of ideas • Try to edit at this level!

    5. Organization (3) • Requirements vary by context, but… • In most cases, your presentation does not have to match your paper exactly • Should follow it generally, of course • Can emphasize the most interesting points • Generates more discussion/questions • Can de-emphasize the least interesting or weakest points • Don’t spend much time on areas where you don’t have a lot to say / where there’s a lot more work to be done • Avoid talking about areas where people will jump on you

    6. Revise • Parallels to Writing • First draft is not a keeper • Revise to: • Improve/add structure • Can use parallel structure in talks, too • Remove weak points • Find typos • Edit at the outline level • Saves time if you don’t eliminate entire sections

    7. Practice • Practicing your talk is essential! • First few iterations • Practice alone • Some recommend using mirror • Time it • Final iterations • In front of friend / colleague / spouse / significant other • Not important that they know the content – you’re just getting comfortable talking in front of people • Time it

    8. Avoiding Common Problems (1) • Running Out Of Time • Problem • Very painful to use up entire session on background, get cut off just as you’re getting to your main result • Solutions • Practice several times (including timing) • Present main messages first (as was done in this presentation) • Even if you run out of time, you’ve told them the main messages

    9. Avoiding Common Problems (2) • Reading Your Slides • Problem • Novice presenters often read their slides verbatim • Boring to audience (they can read, too) • Takes away impact • Solution(s) • Use phrases on slides that lead you to complete sentences that you speak • Practice until you’re comfortable speaking on the fly based on phrases

    10. Avoiding Common Problems (3) • Nervousness • Problem • Being nervous can: • Slow you down • Interfere with the continuity of your presentation, and • Distract the audience • Solution(s) • Practice until you’re comfortable giving this presentation • Practice until you’re comfortable giving presentations in general • Have I mentioned that it really helps you to practice?

    11. Avoiding Common Problems (4) • Too Much On Slides • Problem • Some people tend to put complete sentences down where they just should have bullet points; this leads to reading the entire sentence as is and makes the slides look cluttered • Example above • Solution(s) • Use short phrases, not complete sentences • Give each point its own bullet • Don’t list N items under one bullet • The later items in the list tend to get lost

    12. Avoiding Common Problems (5) • Typos • Problem • Typographical errors in slides detract from your message • Viewers tend to get hung up on the errors • Solution(s) • Proofread your slides carefully • Have a friend proofread them as well

    13. Other Notes • Session Chairs • At conferences, there may be session chairs that help program move along, warn you re: time limit • Talk to them before presentation, find out what their policy is • Is some of the presentation period reserved for questions? • Is any time used for transitions between speakers? • At what point(s) will you be warned before the end of your presentation? • Good to try to watch the session chair, but . . . • Don’t get distracted by them • Don’t entirely rely on them (may miss their signals)

    14. Figures and Diagrams • Fine to include these • Don’t make them too complex • Harder to get details across in a presentation • Remember that you’re trying to get people to understand it on the spot, not after an hour of study • If you do show detail, remember that you don’t have to discuss it all • Highlight the major points

    15. Other Resources • John Carlis, Notes from Talk on How to Give A Talk • (Postscript version) • (PDF version) • Edward Tufte, Essay on The Cognitive Style of Powerpoint • Available at: