How to give a talk

Hints for giving good talks (by Scott Keogh, ANU):

  • Do keep the message of your talk very simple, have only a few main points.
  • Do think and plan carefully about the structure of your talk - make sure it follows a logical progression.
  • Do be very prepared for your talk, practice, practice, practice.
  • Do plan on about four minutes each for intro, materials and methods, and results/discussion.
  • Do plan on about one slide per minute.
  • Do speak slowly and clearly.
  • Do have a joke or two ready if you are feeling confident, people like to laugh but be prepared to go on if they don't.
  • Do have very good text slides, keep them simple.
  • Do have good study species slides, at least 20% of total slide number.
  • Do have conclusions slides.
  • Do make sure that the people in the back of the room can see what's on your slides/overheads
  • Do state your aims clearly and explain WHY you have done the research.
  • Do try to reach as wide an audience as possible and reflect this attitude in the way you present statistics and complicated results.
  • Do make sure that every slide/overhead means something.
  • Don't read your talk if you can help it. If you are well prepared and have practiced you won't have to.
  • Don't use a laser pointer until you have practiced using one, be slow and deliberate with your movements or it annoys everybody.
  • Don't apologise for mistakes in your slides, just explain.
  • Don't show complicated tables or DNA sequences - tables are death. If you have to show tables, keep them very simple and only show the data that you are actually going to talk about.
  • Don't ever start explaining a slide by saying "I know you can't read this but....".
  • Don't go overtime, it's disrespectful to everyone and unprofessional.
  • Don't ever say "Now this is really interesting.....", just make it self-evident.
  • Don't mix slides and overheads to much - try and have one or the other, preferably slides.
  • Don't use more than three colours, and make sure they are highly contrasting.
  • Don't say "that's it" at the end, have an ending prepared.
  • Don't say "more work is required" because it always is.
  • Don't show raw data.
  • Don't go too much into well known methods.
  • Don't use the shadow of the pointer unless you say that's what you're doing.
  • Don't end with a slide of a sunset because that always annoys me!