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Lance Cooper and Celia Elliott (with help from our colleagues Dave Hertzog and Al Nathan) Creating Effective Scientific Presentations Here’s what we will cover today: Why give presentations? Important starting points Logical structure of a presentation Using figures, tables, and equations

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creating effective scientific presentations

Lance Cooperand Celia Elliott

(with help from our colleagues Dave Hertzog and Al Nathan)

Creating Effective Scientific Presentations

here s what we will cover today
Here’s what we will cover today:
  • Why give presentations?
  • Important starting points
  • Logical structure of a presentation
  • Using figures, tables, and equations
  • Powerpoint esthetics
why are presentations necessary
Why are presentations necessary?

Publications lag months/years behind discovery

Talks at scientific meetings are current!!

Presentations can accentuate results/ideas

Talks before your research group, collaboration meetings

Your future job will require presentations

You will give talks as a job candidate

You will give presentations as an employee

You will give presentations as an instructor

goals when giving a scientific talk
Goals when giving a scientific talk

Persuade collaborators your analysis is correct

Disseminate your results

Teach the audience something

Learn something from the audience

Gain the respect of the community

Establish future collaborations

Get a job or secure funding

Learn something yourself—gain a new perspective on your work

key goal communicate your ideas
Key Goal: Communicate your ideas!
  • This fundamental goal should govern every aspect of the design and presentation of your talk!
slide7

First commandment: Know thy audience!

Experts (e.g., seminars, group meetings)

Roughly 20–30% introductory material

Can be more focused on advanced topics

Novices (e.g., public lecture)

Assume your audience is intelligent but knows nothing about the material you’re presenting

80% of material should be introductory

Mixed (e.g., colloquia)

Most difficult audience

60% of material should be introductory

decide how long your talk should be
Decide how long your talk should be

Contributed conference talks

~ 10–15 minutes

Most difficult!!

Limit talk to 8–10 minutes

Only make 1–2 main points

Invited conference talks and journal club talks

~ 20–30 minutes

Limit talk to 15–25 minutes

Make 2–3 main points

Invited seminars and colloquia

60 minutes

Limit talk to 50 minutes

Make 2–3 main points

Timing “rules of thumb”

Allow ~ 1½–2 minutes for each slide

More time needed if slide has complicated figures or data

know the style of your talk
Know the style of your talk

Persuasive

Instructional

This talk!!

Informative

Norm for scientific meetings

Formal or informal?

Hard to time informal

The style of your talk will depend on your venue, audience, and purpose

Informal seminar

Scientific conference

Colloquium

Collaboration meeting

Report to funders

Job interview

how do you start
How do you start?

Write down the 2–3 key ideas you wish to convey!

The introductory material flows from these ideas (what background/motivation does the audience need?)

The body of the presentation flows from these ideas (what supporting evidence, figures, and data do you need to present?)

setting the overall structure of the talk also follows from the key points
Setting the overall structure of the talk also follows from the key points

Motivate the key issues (Introduction)

Preview your main messages

tell them what you’re going to tell them

Provide support for your messages (Body)

tell them

Summarize your messages (Conclusion)

tell them what you told them

In other words, don’t let them

leave without knowing

your main messages!

the title slide and outline prepares the audience to listen and tells them what to look for
The title slide and outline prepares the audience to listen and tells them what to look for

Title slide

Your name and affiliation

Venue and date

Attention-getting graphic

the mighty muon a dash of history and a pound of precision

m

The Mighty Muon:A dash of history and a pound of precision

David Hertzog*

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Muon g-2

Muon Capture

Muon Lifetime

Great title slide, especially for a colloquim

Colloquium: University of South Carolina

the title slide and outline prepares the audience to listen and tells them what to look for14
The title slide and outline prepares the audience to listen and tells them what to look for

Title slide

Your name and affiliation

Venue and date

Attention-getting graphic

Outline or overview of presentation

Prepares the audience to listen

Provides a logical structure for your talk

Provides motivation and context

Summarizes key points (limit to three or four for a 20-minute talk)

particle physicists ask
Particle Physicists Ask …
  • Why matter?
      • CP Violation
  • Why mass?
      • Higgs field
  • Why this standard model?
      • SUSY or other extensions

Great overview slide, especially for a colloquim

slide16

Overview

Black holes and star clusters

The galactic center

Intermediate-mass black hole kinematics

Here, we have a VISUAL and WRITTEN outline and it’s not too long !

the body of your presentation is the intellectual content of your talk
The “body” of your presentation is the intellectual content of your talk

Problem statement, motivation 1–2 slides

Previous work

1 slide

Method

1–2 slides

Results

4–6 slides

Future work

1–2 slides

we measure

Double Blind Analysis

Superb slide! This explains in pictures and very few words the essence of the experiment. Note the schematic equation.

We measure

(1) Precession frequency

(2) Muon distribution

(3) Magnetic field map

B

provide a summary slide
Provide a “summary” slide

Recap key results

Reiterate principal conclusions

Repeat your contact information

This slide will probably stay on the screen during the question period and will thus get the longest audience exposure—make it count!

slide20

Summary & Conclusions

Not “exciting” but it has the pieces

  • All g-2 data published
    • Systematics lowered again
  • Consistent results, consistently above theory
    • ee – tau controversy sill quite active
    • considerably more “ee” type data on the way
  • The systematic limit is “far” away …we should go there

What we did

Where we stand: summarized nicely on the plot

What to do next

Note e-mail and web link.

hertzog@uiuc.edu

Copy of talk: www.npl.uiuc.edu/~hertzog/ASPENg2.pdf

use figures to illustrate your key points
Use figures to illustrate your key points

Figures are good!

1 Figure = xxxx words

They enliven slides, promote audience interest, provide supporting evidence for key points, and help explain complex ideas and relationships quickly, show how things work, etc.

Much more on figures next week!

Myosin “walking” on actin

Courtesy of P. Selvin

label all elements in a figure
Label all elements in a figure

Point out important features

Label both axes of graphs and show units

Provide a caption

Give credit

The Nike laser system uses discharge pre-amplifiers. (Courtesy US Navy)

Sample normalized signals from the two-beam optical drive.(Courtesy C. Michael)

presenting data is your most important and challenging task
Presenting data is your most important and challenging task
  • Avoid copying a graph for a formal article – they have a different style
  • Use color and make lines thick
  • Label axes and annotate important points with arrows and add words
  • Use tables sparingly – if you do, highlight important parts
presenting data is your most important and challenging task24
Presenting data is your most important and challenging task
  • What you show depends strongly on the audience
    • General audience: perhaps only left plot
    • Experts need to see the right plot too
slide25

Fit to Simple5-Par Function

Equation uses COLOR to highlight the terms important to the talk

N(t) = N0e-t/t[1+Acos(wat + f)]

Few billion events

Getting a good c2is a challenge

For a talk meant for experts, additional slides will follow…

Blowups provide extra detail

show the equipment if it helps as part of your proof but sparingly not just because you love it

Vacuum chamber

RHEED screen

Source flanges

Show the equipment IF it helps as part of your proof – but sparingly, not just because you love it
  • Photographs give scale and reality – but add labels
  • Schematics provide concept
  • Icons strip away unnecessary details
  • ALL OF THESE can be useful in combination

Mass spectrometer

Why is this not such a useful picture?

experimental apparatus
Experimental Apparatus

Polarizer

Diffraction Grating

PRQW

Polarizer

Beam Reducer

Chopper

Here we add detail to picture of the optical bench—much more useful

slide28

The title is the conclusion of this slide

e

Momentum

Spin

am is proportional to the difference between the spin precession and the rotation rate

This figure relates the concept to the real object

This supports assertion in sentence headline

bnl storage ring

Features:

Blue/Black circles are part of the physics story

Diagram allows description of components that enter in the data analysis

incoming muons

Quads

BNL Storage Ring
basic setup
Basic setup

Schematic setup

Courtesy IAP/TU Wien

some more examples of data

A photograph, which reveals the detail

A photograph, which reveals the detail

Some more examples of data

10 nm wires: AuPd on DNA

use equations sparingly
Use equations sparingly

Use equations only if absolutely necessary

If you use equations

Slow down

Talk through step by step

Explain relevance

Combine with a picture that illustrates the physical principle involved

slide33

Keep equations selective and informative

  • What can an audience grasp in ‘real time’?
    • If they already know it, then they know it
    • If they don’t know it, they usually have to study it term by term
  • Take a sparse approach
    • Substitute proportionalities for equalities ?
      • Can eliminates uninteresting constants
      • Can emphasize relationship of variables
    • Substitute words for blocks of standard terms?
    • Use builds and arrows to walk audience thru (see example)

Set them off attractively

the radiative transfer equation

Number of Photons

Density of Dust Grains

Source

Function

Distance

Traveled

Absorption Coefficient

Scattering Coefficient

(from geometry and composition of dust grains)

I think this is a great and effective example from one of our students

The Radiative Transfer Equation

+

+

  • Requirements to solve analytically:
  • n is a constant
  • qa = 0 or qs = 0

We want turbulent clouds. n is not a constant

equations

Some help…

1.2

0.8

0.4

0

4000

2000

0

- 2000

- 4000

0.03

0.02

0.01

0

- 0.01

- 0.02

8p

6p

4p

2p

0p

Disaster ?

Y(l) (radians) Dn Da (cm-1) DT/T

810 820 830 840 850 860

Wavelength [nm]

Equations

…better still, provide a physical interpretation in words next to equations

powerpoint esthetics
PowerPoint Esthetics

Remember, your goal is to convey your ideas, so avoid distracting text and effects!

slide37

Remember, your goal is to convey your ideas, so avoid distracting text and effects!

Don’t overuse PowerPoint animations and sounds!

Use simple (or no) backgrounds on slides

eschew weird fonts
Eschew weird fonts

Use the same font throughout the talk

Don’t use calligraphyorseriffonts

Make all text at least 20 pt

use san serif fonts
Use San Serif Fonts
  • Use San Aarif font (e.g., Ariel)
  • O
    • Not Sarif font (e.g., Times New Roman)
    • O

Skinny parts disappear when projected

use normal colors
Use “normal” colors

DON’T use red/green or red/blue as contrasting colors

Don’t use more than three or four different colors

Make sure colors looks the way you expect using an LCD projector!

Avoid neon colors and pastels

Don’t use random colors; people expect color to mean something

Strive for easy reading

Strive for easy reading

Strive for easy reading

embed special fonts in ppt
“Embed” special fonts in PPT

(1). Open the document in PowerPoint

(2). Click on the "Tools" tab on the top menu

(3). Click on the "Options" link

(4). Click on the "Save" tab

(5). Locate “Font options for current document only”

and “Embed TrueType fonts”

(6). Click in the check box to turn on the option