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Creating Effective Scientific Presentations

Creating Effective Scientific Presentations

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Creating Effective Scientific Presentations

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  1. Lance Cooperand Celia Elliott (with help from our colleagues Dave Hertzog and Al Nathan) Creating Effective Scientific Presentations

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. 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

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

  6. Essential rules for preparing your talk:

  7. 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

  8. 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

  9. 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

  10. 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?)

  11. 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!

  12. 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

  13. 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

  14. 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)

  15. 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

  16. 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 !

  17. 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

  18. 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

  19. 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!

  20. 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. Copy of talk:

  21. 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

  22. 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)

  23. 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

  24. 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

  25. 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

  26. 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?

  27. Experimental Apparatus Polarizer Diffraction Grating PRQW Polarizer Beam Reducer Chopper Here we add detail to picture of the optical bench—much more useful

  28. 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

  29. 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

  30. Basic setup Schematic setup Courtesy IAP/TU Wien

  31. A photograph, which reveals the detail A photograph, which reveals the detail Some more examples of data 10 nm wires: AuPd on DNA

  32. 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

  33. 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

  34. 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

  35. 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

  36. PowerPoint Esthetics Remember, your goal is to convey your ideas, so avoid distracting text and effects!

  37. 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

  38. Eschew weird fonts Use the same font throughout the talk Don’t use calligraphyorseriffonts Make all text at least 20 pt

  39. 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

  40. 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

  41. “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