Effective presentations
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Effective Presentations. Some Tips. Why is it Important?. First impressions count – job interviews, scientific meetings, selling/marketing an idea to a potential investor. Quality of Oral presentations are often overlooked, especially in scientific meetings.

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Effective Presentations

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Effective presentations

Effective Presentations

Some Tips

Why is it important

Why is it Important?

  • First impressions count – job interviews, scientific meetings, selling/marketing an idea to a potential investor.

  • Quality of Oral presentations are often overlooked, especially in scientific meetings.

  • No body’s perfect! So a set of rules/guidelines always helps.

  • Some people may claim they are natural born speakers needing no preparation for a presentation (I’m not one of them, are you?)

  • But in reality, if one practices hard and does his/her homework, he/she can always make a good presentation

  • This presentation is a presentation on presentation!

  • Hopefully, you can all get some ideas to implement in future, starting with your class project due on Dec 13th, 2004.

Some basic steps

Some Basic Steps

  • Planning

  • Preparation

  • Outlining

  • Important Elements

  • Practice

  • Handling questions



  • Know the following in advance:

  • What type of presentation are you delivering?

    Formal/Informal; Scientific/Business

  • Composition of the audience

    Who will be there? What do they want to hear?

  • Time allotted


  • Expectations

    Define the expectations of your presentation – match them with what you think are the expectations of the audience.



  • Start thinking early of what needs to be presented

  • Presentation needs to have a logical structure, flow, continuity from one topic to another

  • Structure? – Introduction – Objectives – Methods – Results – Conclusions – Questions

  • Try jotting down your thoughts first on piece of paper

  • Are there specific things about your work you want highlighted?

  • What is so novel or interesting about your work being presented?

  • Rehearse, Revise and then Rehearse. Repeat until you feel comfortable with time.

  • Have someone else assess your presentation independently.

Outlining the graphical mode of display

Outlining (the graphical mode of display)

  • Audience gets bored easily (remember they are spending valuable time listening to you and they are not getting paid!)

  • There’s no fixed rule for outlining your presentation – but try something novel (unique/creative yet simple, don’t go very fancy!)

  • As time goes, audience usually forgets material that was presented earlier. You need to sustain the interest of the audience.

  • Ask yourself if the content you are presenting is enough? All depends on time, type of audience etc.

Important elements

Important Elements

  • Keep it Simple Stupid! (known as KISS rule) (has worked well for me – simplicity - but no excuses for sloppiness!)

  • If you want to impress audience with hi-tech graphics, cartoons, movies, be careful enough to have test run the system well or have backups

  • Stage-fright? Everybody has it (I have it every time!). Special kind of Rehearsing helps. Also Imagining your audience naked is said help (but don’t apply that when I’m attending your presentation!)

  • Don’t go too fast, or two slow (100 words per minute is usually ok for scientific meetings).

  • Don’t repeat yourself too much (I always have this problem).

  • Presentation is like a scripted activity – but not fully scripted. So, don’t recite, but then don’t pause, stammer (umms, aahs) and digress too much.

Other tips

Other Tips

  • Transition one topic to another in your presentation nicely

  • Maintain TIME!

  • Sustain interest, but having ‘planned’ tangents if you wish, just to remove the monotony of presentation.

  • Show passion, interest, excitement, humility to learn, to teach, to inspire (if you have a message!, but no need to be Evangelical). Don’t put up a sad face as if you are not getting paid enough!

  • Don’t crack too risky jokes if you are not sure how the audience will take it.

  • Dress for success (don’t show up in your pajamas!)

  • Listen to Questions carefully first.

  • Always relax – nobody’s going to kill you if you goof.



Practice Makes You Perfect

  • But don’t overdo it !



  • Powerpoint, Slides – whatever.

  • They must look good on screen. Test them!

  • Use nice colors. Contrasting and similar as needed.

  • Avoid clutter, cramming information (l’m a sucker for simplicity)

  • Avoid complex equations/charts that will take hours for audience to decipher.

  • Show bottom-line elegantly – highlight them

  • Audience will always be thinking ‘so what?’. So try to address ‘so what’ nicely by spilling out implications of your work.

Handling questions

Handling Questions

  • Audience can be of all types – some rude, some very polite, some clueless as to what he/she just went through.

  • In any case, never be rude, always be humble and listen carefully first.

  • If you don’t know something, just say “I don’t know”! Do not BULL S**T around (you’ll lose respect).

  • But then, you don’t need to be apologetic or overmodest as to why you didn’t/couldn’t address certain things.

  • Avoid expressing personal opinions on someone or some work – be objective.

  • Remember, no presentation is perfect.

My talk

My Talk

We know you had support

Maybe save it for last slide

Don’t obscure title/authors

Readme txt


  • Do not attempt to put all the text, code, or explanation of what you are talking about directly onto the slide, especially if it consists of full, long sentences. Or paragraphs. There’s no place for paragraphs on slides. If you have complete sentences, you can probably take something out.

  • If you do that, you will have too much stuff to read on the slide, which isn’t always a good thing.

  • Like the previous slide, people do not really read all the stuff on the slides.

    • That’s why it’s called a “presentation” and not “a reading” of your work

  • Practice makes perfect, which is what gets you away from having to have all of you “notes” in textual form on the screen in front of you.

  • Utilize the Notes function of PowerPoint, have them printed out for your reference.

    • The audience doesn’t need to hear the exact same thing that you are reading to them.

    • The bullet points are simply talking points and should attempt to summarize the big ideas that you are trying to convey

  • If you’ve reached anything less than 18 point font, for God’s sake, please:

    • Remove some of the text

    • Split up the text and put it on separate slides

    • Perhaps you are trying to do much in this one slide?

  • Reading a slide is annoying. We can do that (even if we don’t).

Font size

Font Size

  • You are close to your monitor

  • Your audience is far from the screen


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Lucida Sans

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  • How samrt will poeple thikn yuo are?

  • Watch for there/their/they’re too/to/two

Picture this

Picture This

  • There are exceptions, but in general

    • Don’t have only text on most of your slides

    • Try to draw diagrams wherever applicable

  • (Well-drawn) pictures are easier to understand

System Architecture

System Architecture

  • There’s a CPU, a RAM and an FPGA and they’re all connected

    - The FPGA connects to the

    CPU’s data cache

    - The bus is 32 bits wide

    - Blah blah blah blah

  • You have to visualize it yourself


data cache






Mommy my eyes are burning

Mommy, my eyes are burning!

  • Can you look at this for 45 minutes?

  • Colors look different on every LCD projector

  • Colors look different between transparencies and projector

You are not pixar studios

You are not Pixar Studios

  • Previous slide(s) used “animation”…

  • Use only where it is USEFUL

  • Know if presentation system will handle

    • Different versions of PowerPoint, Macs, etc.

  • Or use multiple slides to safely animate


Use it sparingly


(it can be annoying)

Be Very


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