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Some Thoughts on Academic Presentations. Dan Quint University of Wisconsin. March 26, 2014. Introduction Preparation Delivery Answering Questions Almost Freakish Attention to Detail. 1. Introduction. Presenting well matters. Introduction.

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Some thoughts on academic presentations

Some Thoughts on Academic Presentations

Dan Quint

University of Wisconsin

March 26, 2014


Introduction preparation delivery answering questions almost freakish attention to detail
IntroductionPreparationDeliveryAnswering QuestionsAlmost Freakish Attention to Detail

1


Introduction
Introduction

  • Presenting well matters


Introduction1
Introduction

  • Preparing a good talk takes much longer than you think

“Hofstadter’s Law: it always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter’s Law.”– Douglas Hofstadter

3


Introduction2
Introduction

  • Giving a good talk is hard…

    …and you’ll screw it up

Your first presentation will probably go worse than you expect… even when you take this into account.

4


Introduction preparation delivery answering questions almost freakish attention to detail1
IntroductionPreparationDeliveryAnswering QuestionsAlmost Freakish Attention to Detail

5


Preparation
Preparation

  • “Own your paper”

6


Preparation1
Preparation

  • Think about who your audience is

    • Assume we’re smart, but haven’t read your paper, or the paper you’re extending

7


Preparation2
Preparation

  • Think about the best way to teach them your paper

8


Preparation3
Preparation

  • Start with a puzzle, or a story

9


Preparation4
Preparation

  • You want us to understand, quickly:

    • What the question is

    • What you found

    • Why we should care

10


Preparation5
Preparation

  • Your lit review is terrible

    • Show you know the literature you’re supposed to

    • Put your paper in context and clarify its contribution

easy

hard

good place to take advice from advisors, etc.

11


Preparation6
Preparation

  • You don’t have to present the most complicated case in your paper

12


Preparation7
Preparation

  • Plan where you want to spend your time

13


Preparation8
Preparation

  • Plan where you want to spend your time

14


Preparation9
Preparation

  • PLAN WHERE YOU WANT TO SPEND YOUR TIME

15


Preparation10
Preparation

  • Get to your model FAST!

16


Preparation11
Preparation

  • Define things rigorously

17


Preparation12
Preparation

  • Have examples in mind

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Preparation13
Preparation

  • Highlight the things you want us to notice

19


Preparation14
Preparation

  • Don’t drown us in equations

20


Preparation15
Preparation

  • Tables

21

source: A. Sengupta and S. Wiggins (2014), “Airline Pricing, Price Dispersion, and Ticket Characteristics On and Off the Internet,” AEJ: Economic Policy 6(1)


Preparation16
Preparation

  • Visuals good!

22

source: T. Piketty, E. Saez and S. Stantcheva (2014), “Optimal Taxation of Top Labor Incomes: A Tale of Three Elasticities,” AEJ: Economic Policy 6(1)


Preparation17
Preparation

  • Ask for advice –

    and follow it

23


Preparation18
Preparation

  • Practice!

24


Introduction preparation delivery answering questions almost freakish attention to detail2
IntroductionPreparationDeliveryAnswering QuestionsAlmost Freakish Attention to Detail

25


Delivery
Delivery

  • Face the audience,

    and don’t laser-point every slide

26


Delivery1
Delivery

  • Go slow,

    except for the technical parts –

    then, go really slow

27


Delivery2
Delivery

  • Slowness especially important for equations

probability h of my opponents do one thing and the rest do another

increase in probabilitystuff happens

expected payoff I get if it happens

28


Delivery3
Delivery

  • I like dot points to appear one by one

  • Guides people through each point I make

  • Reinforces each point

  • (Means I can’t present without a clicker)

29


Delivery4
Delivery

  • But don’t “foreshadow” dot points

    You may think it looks cute

    But it makes people read ahead while you’re talking

    Which means they aren’t paying attention

30


Delivery5
Delivery

  • But don’t “foreshadow” dot points

  • You may think it looks cute

    But it makes people read ahead while you’re talking

    Which means they aren’t paying attention

31


Delivery6
Delivery

  • But don’t “foreshadow” dot points

  • You may think it looks cute

  • But it makes people read ahead while you’re talking

    Which means they aren’t paying attention

32


Delivery7
Delivery

  • But don’t “foreshadow” dot points

  • You may think it looks cute

  • But it makes people read ahead while you’re talking

  • Which means they aren’t paying attention

33


Delivery8
Delivery

  • Also, don’t put everything you want to say on your slide

  • If you do, then all you can do is read your slides

  • And that isn’t a very compelling way to present

  • Better to leave some things off your slide and just talk about them

  • And use your slides as an outline of the major points you want to cover…

  • …not every detail

34


Delivery9
Delivery

  • Don’t be limited by your slides

    • Control pace, adjust accordingly

    • Use white board as needed

35


Introduction preparation delivery answering questions almost freakish attention to detail3
IntroductionPreparationDeliveryAnswering QuestionsAlmost Freakish Attention to Detail

36


Answering questions
Answering questions

  • Anticipate likely questions

37


Answering questions1
Answering questions

  • Don’t take it personally

    • Don’t get defensive

    • Don’t be a dick

38


Answering questions2
Answering questions

  • Don’t interrupt someone asking a question

39


Answering questions3
Answering questions

  • Don’t interrupt someone asking a question

40


Answering questions4
Answering questions

  • Make sure you understand the question before you start to answer

41


Answering questions5
Answering questions

  • Don’t defer questions more than necessary

42


Answering questions6
Answering questions

  • But don’t lose control of the seminar

43


Answering questions7
Answering questions

  • Don’t be a bullshitter

44


Answering questions8
Answering questions

  • But also, don’t undersell your work

45


Introduction preparation delivery answering questions almost freakish attention to detail4
IntroductionPreparationDeliveryAnswering QuestionsAlmost Freakish Attention to Detail

46


Almost freakish attention to detail
Almost freakish attention to detail

  • Minimize typos, incorrect notation, etc.

    • But don’t freak out if you catch one during your talk

47


Almost freakish attention to detail1
Almost freakish attention to detail

  • If your dot points appear one by one,

48


Almost freakish attention to detail2
Almost freakish attention to detail

  • If your dot points appear one by one,

  • Make sure you do it properly,

49


Almost freakish attention to detail3
Almost freakish attention to detail

  • If your dot points appear one by one,

  • Make sure you do it properly,

  • Because if they don’t line up right,

50


Almost freakish attention to detail4
Almost freakish attention to detail

  • If your dot points appear one by one,

  • Make sure you do it properly,

  • Because if they don’t line up right,

  • It makes me want to kill you!

51


Almost freakish attention to detail5
Almost freakish attention to detail

  • Plug in your fucking computer

52


Almost freakish attention to detail6
Almost freakish attention to detail

  • (Also: don’t use the word “fuck” in a presentation until you have tenure)

53


Thanks for listening,

and good luck!

54


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