Secrets of Real-Life Learning Process in Scientific Presentation Raghavan B. Sunoj Professor of Chemistry IIT Bombay. R.B.SUNOJ. Disclaimer!. Characters presented or enacted in this talk are so real that any coincidence with many in the audience shall only be deemed deliberate.
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1. Content Creation
2. Preparation and Practice
3. Delivery: On Stage Tips
4. Improvement: A Continuous Process
Understand the topic very well
Forms the basis of confidence (poorer the contents lower the confidence)
Should spend quite a bit of time in deciding what is to be (a) included, (b) stressed, and (c) flashed.
Know your audience
Never underestimate the audience. A good assessment of to whom you are going to talk to would be a bonus.
Flow: Streamline ? Turbulent ? Chaotic ?
I come from haunts of coot and hern
I make a sudden sally
And sparkle out among the fern
To bicker down a valley.
By thirty hills I hurry down,
Or slip between the ridges,
By twenty thorps, a little town,
And half a hundred bridges.
Till last by Philip\'s farm I flow
To join the brimming river,
For men may come and men may go,But I go on forever.
‘The Brook’ (Alfred Lord Tennyson)
Decide on sequence of slides
You MUST know what slide comes next and what was the previous one. (Avoid back and forth movements between different slides)
In introduction: Describe background of the work with due credit to other people who have done similar work ahead of you (citations)
Good to have supporting slides (after a blank slide), which could even include answers to potential questions.
Font size: Minimum of 24 (in PowerPoint)
The size of the seminar room can vary, hence minimum font size should be adhered to. Even those sit in the last row should find it comfortable to read.
Color: Text should use dark colors like black or blue. Other colors are better reserved for emphasizing.
Highlights/underline etc., are good too.
Avoid using light colors.
Language: Simple and ‘telegraphic’ is better than long sentences.
Contents : Clarity is the prime goal
Do not pour too much text
In case, it can not be avoided use ‘animation’ effectively. Bring blocks of text, one at a time.
Tables and Data
As matters stand today, many teachers are unable to do the best of which they are capable. For this there are a number of reasons, some more or less accidental, others very deep-seated. To begin with the former, most teachers are over-worked and are compelled to prepare their pupils for examinations rather than to give them a liberalizing metal training. The people who are not accustomed to teaching – and this includes practically all education authorities – have no idea of the expense of spirit that it involves. Clergymen are not expected to preach sermons for several hours every day, but the analogous effort is demanded of teachers. The result is that many of them become harassed and nervous, out of touch with recent work in the subjects that they teach, and unable inspire their students with a sense of the intellectual delights to be obtained from new understanding and new knowledge.
Bertrand Russell (‘The Functions of a Teacher’ from Unpopular Essays)
As matters stand today, many teachers are unable to do the best of which they are capable. For this there are a number of reasons, some more or less accidental, others very deep-seated.
Clergymen are not expected to preach sermons for several hours every day, but the analogous effort is demanded of teachers. The result is that many of them become harassed and nervous, out of touch with recent work in the subjects that they teach, and unable inspire their students with a sense of intellectual delights to be obtained from new understanding and new knowledge.
To begin with the former, most teachers are over-worked and are compelled to prepare their pupils for examinations rather than to give them a liberalizing metal training.
The people who are not accustomed to teaching – and this includes practically all education authorities- have no idea of the expense of spirit that it involves.
Handling data-intensive slides (Example)
anti-addition is more preferred
Uniformity and appearance
Having a ‘theme’ is good.
Each slide should preferably have a heading
Do not think that slides with a heavy dose of graphics would please ‘them’
[Cake (content) is a must! Graphics is just an icing on the cake]
Do not spend too much time ‘decorating’ your slides. If you have buffer time after the contents are ready, you may want to ‘beautify’ the slides
Uniformity and appearance
Figures should be of good quality, readable from distance
May include slide numbers
Its time to perform
Not a 100 M dash! [Go slow to begin with]
Do not rush to the stage
A smiling face is the best way to greet
Spend about 30 seconds doing nothing!
check the collar mike, adjust its position,
read the title,
check the pointer-as if you have invented it
Suppose you are still tensed (take a deep breath)
It is okay to carry a bottle of water with you on stage
Dry mouth should be immediately addressed
Talk to the audience (not to your own slides)
Slides are for audience NOT for you to read: AVOID reading from slides
Slides are only a reinforcement tool to convey what you want to convey.
Picture courtesy: TM2.com and pollsb.com (accessed on Feb 10, 2011)
The key is
Talk to me, I will forget
Show me, I will understand
Involve me, I will remember
Do not look at your supervisor! Look at ‘friendly’ faces around.
Scan different blocks of your audience
(You can readily spot sleeping beauties and disinterested folks out there: Never mind)
Try to move around, rather than staying static (like a statue!)
Stick to natural (yours) English speaking
Use simple words that you are familiar with
You don’t have to speak like a native English speaker.
Avoid mugging someone’s text
“I was simbleee going from POOST OOFFICE to HOOSTEL OOFFICE
To find bhare (where) my bhile (file) was. At last I found it underrr my TABAL (table). I then took an AAPPAL (apple) and raaaaann to the class ..e’ But I was lat-eahh (late)
Modulations and demodulations are important
(e.g., when periodic or ‘local’ summary is stated
When major digressions or deviations are taken)
Speak loud and clear (do not murmur)
Don’t go too fast
Don’t go too slow either
Picture courtesy: savagechickens.com (accessed on Feb 10, 2011)
Matlab “math – lab”
Borrowed from ‘Junta’s Dictionary’ (IIT Bombay)!
Learn from other speakers when you attend conferences
Time-management would improve as you gain more experience
e.g., No fixed number of slides are required, instead you can take a decision ‘on-stage’ (with larger number than what is required)
Speed up and slow down after looking at elapsed time
Humor would add value. Preplanned humor often does not work (beware!)