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How to give a technical talk. David A. B. Miller Stanford University. Summary. How to organize your talk Tips for your viewgraphs How to practice and present your talk. Anyone can give a good talk!. Organizing your talk - content. what do I put in the talk?

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how to give a technical talk

How to give a technical talk

David A. B. Miller

Stanford University

David Miller, Stanford University

summary
Summary
  • How to organize your talk
  • Tips for your viewgraphs
  • How to practice and present your talk

Anyone can give a good talk!

David Miller, Stanford University

organizing your talk content
Organizing your talk - content
  • what do I put in the talk?
    • what is the “30 second version” of your talk (the “elevator speech”)?
      • put in the material that leads up to and supports this
  • you should always be able to give the 30 second version of your talk

David Miller, Stanford University

organizing your talk time
Organizing your talk - time
  • how do I make my talk fit into the time?
    • do not put in too many viewgraphs
      • you will not get through more than 1 viewgraph per minute at most
    • take material out or simplify what you will say
      • while still supporting your 30-second version
    • do not simply talk faster!

David Miller, Stanford University

organizing your talk structure
Organizing your talk - structure
  • how do I structure the talk?
    • overall structure
      • tell them what you’ll tell them
        • summary
      • tell them it
        • the body of the talk
      • tell them what you’ve told them
        • conclusions

David Miller, Stanford University

organizing your talk story
Organizing your talk - story
  • the talk should not be a “stamp collection”
    • i.e., a mere collection of facts with no plot
  • think of the body of the talk as a story
    • the flow of a story will
      • hold the attention of your audience
      • make it easier for you to remember what you wanted to say

David Miller, Stanford University

technical points for viewgraphs
Technical points for viewgraphs
  • you should be able to read everything on the viewgraph from a distance of ~ 7 times the size of the viewgraph
  • don’t make your writing too small
  • otherwise the people at the back of the room cannot see it
  • If you have to make your writing very small,
  • you have too much on the viewgraph anyway
  • be very careful with “color-on-color” writing
    • simple dark text on a clear (white) background works well in all lighting and projection conditions
    • red on blue or blue on red are particularly bad
  • your viewgraph should be clear and uncluttered
    • do not put too much on one viewgraph
      • the audience will not take it in anyway

red on blue

blue on red

Your message should be clear from the viewgraph even if you never say a word

David Miller, Stanford University

style points for viewgraphs
Style points for viewgraphs
  • try to avoid making all of your viewgraphs just bulleted lists
    • use pictures and graphic objects to help make points
  • use animations, special effects, or (especially!) jokes very sparingly
    • only use them if they help make the talk clearer
  • do not try to make your talk “flashy”
    • that will only distract from your message
  • use the core story to make the talk interesting
  • “KISS” principle
    • “keep it simple, stoopid!”

David Miller, Stanford University

how to present your talk basic technique
How to present your talk – basic technique
  • make eye contact
    • this establishes a bond between you and your audience and holds their interest
  • do not read your talk
    • remember the story of your talk, and the words will follow
      • your viewgraphs will remind you of the story
  • speak clearly, slowly enough, and loudly enough
    • talk to the person at the back of the room

David Miller, Stanford University

how to present your talk manner
How to present your talk - manner
  • never be, or feel, apologetic about your talk
    • the audience want to hear it, otherwise they would not be there
  • be enthusiastic about your own talk
    • if you are not interested in it, no one else will be!
  • don’t worry about being nervous!
    • don’t panic
      • take time to gather your thoughts if you need to
      • take a deep breath, and go on

David Miller, Stanford University

practicing your talk
Practicing your talk
  • practice the talk in front of a mirror, looking at yourself in the mirror
    • this prevents you from reading the talk,
    • it gets you used to making eye contact
    • it may reveal any possibly distracting mannerisms
  • give the talk many times to yourself
    • the words for the talk will then start to flow naturally

David Miller, Stanford University

conclusions
Conclusions
  • Organize your talk
    • to support the 30-second version of your message
    • to give a clear story that the audience will follow
  • Your viewgraphs should
    • be clear and simple, interesting but not “flashy”
  • Practice by giving the talk many times to yourself, with a mirror
  • When you give the talk
    • speak as if to the person at the back of the room
    • let the story drive your words
    • have fun and be enthusiastic!!!!

David Miller, Stanford University