Presentation skills

Public speaking nightmare

1 to 20 of 45 messages
26/07/2005 at 12:59
Ok, so I'm to give a scientific presentation to some of my colleauges on Friday, and I'm not by any stretch of the imagination a competent public speaker.

So, any hints/tips?

26/07/2005 at 13:04
Keep it simple.

For each slide have a starting sentence to set you off and a concluding sentence to finish it off worked out in advance.

Look at you audience not the projection screen.

Talk slowly and clearly. You always talk faster when under stress so slow it right down.

Avoid making your slides too involved and complicated.

Don't walk around when talking.

26/07/2005 at 13:06
Practise your speech so you are very confidient

Speak slowly

Prepare early so you have everything with you. If its on powerpoint take at least 1 backup (I take laptop, cd rom and USB stick)

Dress extrememly smartly so you feel teh part and your audience respect you.

Try adn enjoy it

Don't use lame jokes, be professional but natural
26/07/2005 at 13:13
And remember you're there because you know what you're talking about, and they are there to learn FROM YOU. So don't worry your audience.
26/07/2005 at 13:13
Unless, of course, you want to convince your audience of your brilliance by making it as complicated and impenetrable as possible. In which case:

Load your slides up with as many figures and as much close-spaced writing as possible.

Make sure that your description of figures are cursory and inadequate. Pepper your description with terms such as 'as we can plainly see' or 'it is obvious from this figure that' - this way you convince your audience of their stupidity and your intelligence.

Drop names of eminent scientists into the talk even thoug you have never met or spoken to them.

Use as much jargon as possible. In my field the words 'disinhibition', 'gamma oscillations', 'picoSiemen conductance' and 'resistance shut' is guaranteed to send the biochemists in the audience running screaming from the seminar room.

When dealing with questions to which you don't know the answer waffle for 5 minutes and hopefully people will have forgotten the question by the time you have finished.
26/07/2005 at 13:14
That should have been 'about your audience' not like a dog worrying sheep.....
26/07/2005 at 13:17
Wear brown trousers
26/07/2005 at 13:17
Don't include a slide of you in your swimming cossy on holiday in Torremolenos (sp?).
26/07/2005 at 13:18
Write out some notes on each slide in LARGE writing, with lots of space between each section, and colour code it (a small coloured patch on the corner of each slide to match the colour on the note), so that you can easily find your place if you get lost.

Know your subject - don't try to say too much, but allow questions for the bits they are interested in.

Remember, people get bored after about 15 minutes, so if the presentation is to be longer than that, do a brief "time map" in the middle - "So we have looked at A, B and C, and we have got to X, now we will have a wee look at D and E, and finish at Y" - lets them know there's not toooo long to go.

Summarise with a couple of the most important points.
26/07/2005 at 13:28
if you're not naturally funny, don't try to be funny

have a glass of water to hand to stop the dry mouth

stay clear of mentioning anything to do with politics, religion or sex unless the talk is about those subjects

26/07/2005 at 13:29

Thanks guys - keep it coming.

Slides are mainly pictures with very little writing (I abhorr death by powerpoint), and there's a nice break in the middle I can summarise.

Trousers were going to be brown cordurouys.
I'm a little concerned about a light blue shirt but am reliably informed that with the a/c on I wont look like a mating hippo.

Luckily enough it's all relatively new stuff so the others shouldn't know too much about it. Stephen Hawking told me so over lunch...
26/07/2005 at 13:33
I was also advised not to use a lectern - apparently you aren't as self critical when using one and make more mistakes. Any you also hide behind it and your voice projection drops?
26/07/2005 at 13:36
can we come and watch too?
26/07/2005 at 13:37
If you're interested in the Development of Latent Fingerprints on Difficult Surfaces, using Alternative Metal Vacuum Metal Deposition, feel free.
26/07/2005 at 13:39
sounds better than some of the presentations from media owners that we get here.....beside I'll be able to look at you!


26/07/2005 at 13:39
think about your audience

what do they really want/need to know?

it's hard to take stuff in through the aural modality (oeps - can u tell I used to be an academic?) so even with slides and stuff you need to HEADLINE points.

Try to make it a story (yeah I know it's science).

Best approach for the sort of stuff I used to present is
Why is this an interesting/important question?
This is what we did.
This is what we found.
26/07/2005 at 13:40
Practice before hand.

Talk to the person in the back row initially to get your voice projection the right volume.

Find some people to smile at somewhere in the middle of the audience when you're learning, making eye contact for a few seconds with each one, after that you can start to look around at other people and get them involved as well.

Find out your habits from the practice session - don't do the bad ones, keep the other ones in place.
26/07/2005 at 13:40
Practice - not to the point where you sound like a robot, but make sure you've run through it a couple of times at least, ideally for someone who can give you some honest feedback, and if possible full-size. Stuff that looks great on a monitor/laptop screen, and sounds great in your head, doesn't always translate as well to the real world.

And try to relax - don't worry about any slips or mistakes once you're underway, just correct yourself if necessary, forget about it and move on.
26/07/2005 at 13:40
actually that DOES sound really interesting 2T - do you think I need to get out more?
26/07/2005 at 13:42
yeah I liked to practise beforehand (in the privacy of a locked room) to the point where I knew my script pretty much, including those well-rehearsed ad libs

but I am quite a good public speaker so I don't thin keveryone knew that the "off the cuff " remarks were no such thing
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