Masteron
03
Dec

John Ramos

John RamosWrote the book The Super Student’s Guide to Presentations @ TheStudentPower.com

 

3 minutes seems like little time to deliver a compelling presentation, but I’ve been asked to present my entire Master’s thesis to a jury in 3 minutes - it’s possible, but you have to be objective and systematic.

First off, define a clear structure to your speech and stick to it. There’s not time to ramble whatsoever:

  • Minute 1: Tell your purpose, what the presentation is all about and what’s the message you want to send across.
  • Minute 2: Tell the audience why, what’s the reasoning that supports your argument, what is the story you want to tell, where is the proof backing your claims.
  • Minute 3: Repeat your message and end on a high-note, using a quote, sentence or story that the audience won’t forget easily.

Some actual suggestions for topics:

  • Your Project Explained in 3 minutes
  • A Cool Mathematics Trick Explained in 3 minutes (check some here)
  • Your Country’s History in 3 minutes (use lots of comedy elements)
  • 3 Lifehacks in 3 Minutes
  • My Life’s History in 3 Minutes (interesting introspective exercise, as well)
  • The Politics of the Middle East in 3 Minutes
  • Newtonian Mechanics Explained in 3 Minutes

As you see, there’re a lot of creative options at your fingertips, or should I say at the exit of your vocal chords?

29
Oct

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John RamosJohn Ramos,

Wrote the book The Super Student’s Guide to Presentations

TheStudentPower.com

Excellent question! Most technical presenters do not put any effort into their presentations at all. To me, that always came a bit as a disappointment – in today’s world, the best science is not made inside the lab, it’s made outside, communicating with our peers.

I have presented my Masters’ thesis in the form of poster and slide presentations in the past. Every time I did I tried not to put my audience to sleep, by following these steps (note that I assume that you’re planning, researching and rehearsing correctly apart from all of this):

  • Assume that most of your audience will not understand most technical terms. No, I have no idea of what ubiquitin is – I study brain imaging! Explain your project slowly and carefully, making one point at each time.
  • Use pictures and diagrams as much as you can. Explaining Science through words alone is painful. It’s much easier to use diagrams, charts or pictures from other papers or that you created on your own.

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  • Organize your speech so that you don’t go over the allotted time.

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07
Oct

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Jason Whyte

Jason Whytewhen I present, I usually get invited back

What you’re basically asking is how to make a good presentation. The technique is the same regardless of who you are presenting to and what you’re presenting on. Here are some simple rules:

1) Think about your audience.

Who are they? What sort of topic might they want to listen to? How do you connect your topic to their lives? What’s in it for them?

2) What’s your point?

What’s the one thing you want them to take away from the presentation?

3) Tell ‘em what you’re going to tell ‘em, tell ‘em, and then tell ‘em what you’ve told them.

You generally need to repeat your message seven times to make it stick. (I like to think of the funeral speech in Julius Caesar, with its repetition of “for Brutus is an honourable man” – though in that case, the meaning changes over the course of the speech)
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04
Aug

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Leo Lam

Leo LamPhD in Electrical Engineering, Adjunct Faculty at University of Washington

Some assumptions need to be made here. I am assuming that you have all the materials you need to present and that all research required to pass your defense is available, and that your adviser has agreed that it is sufficient. I am also assuming that this is a Master thesis (using the American definition for a thesis, for a PhD it would be a dissertation).

With that said, I should remind you of the goal: to demonstrate that you have performed original research, with results at a level that are commensurate with a Master degree (specificity dependent on your institution/adviser).

If that’s the case, 5 days would be plenty. Also, this applies to a great presentation, not a mediocre one.

  1. Divide: break your presentation into parts, like introduction (short), discussion of existing knowledge (short), problem you needed to solve (medium length), research work (medium length), results (detailed discussion) and conclusion (short). I am using relative terms since you did not specify how long your presentation is going to be.
  2. Conquer: After you have broken up the presentation into parts, think about what your audience needs to hear in each part. Start with a liberal amount of content, and you will notice your presentation is likely going to be too long. Distil it down to the most important points, then create the slide content. Your slide should be clean, with clear data (and not too verbose). You should aim that your audience will be listening to you, instead of reading everything on screen. Your slide should be supplemental to your talk.
  3. Practice: Once you have the slide deck down, practice. Your script should be mostly memorized and if you need any note, make it very short and only uses it to remind you of the content. Don’t read from a script.
  4. Get feedback: You should pre-present with both your peers and your adviser if she/he is amenable to that. Get feedback. Tweak. Practice.

 

Hope this is helpful. Best wishes on your defense.

06
Jul

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Rhiannon Sanders    Rhiannon SandersFounder, author TwoMagpies online courses in public speaking

Here is the short answer in case you don’t have time to read the rather long-winded one below.
First: don’t do what everyone else does, think of something original.
Here are some ideas, I’m sure there’s more:

  • Start calm and slow. Give people time to size you up and get used to your voice. A person who is in control and command does not rush.
  • Start with your main message (or key message – a short statement of the whole point of your talk and maybe what you want people to do when you’re finished) in some form. Unless you want to keep it a total mystery, see below
  • Let people know, one way or another, why they should listen to you. Tell them the end. Tell them what they will gain or learn. Tell them why it’s important.
  • Don’t start with your CV, set the scene first, then introduce yourself very briefly
  • Create a mystery, then solve it at the end
  • Ask a rhetorical question
  • Tell a story to illustrate your point, give it details and life, but make its relevance extremely clear
  • Start in the action, not with all the background

So here’s the long version. The first thing I would say is – don’t start the same way everyone else starts!
You know, “hello everybody, it’s really great to be here. Thank you to the organizers for inviting me, my name is (followed by your CV) and I’m going to talk to about…”

If we hear, yet again, the standard procedure for starting a presentation, many people will be thinking to themselves “okay, here we go, another ordinary, boring presentation.”

So what do you do? 
There are two times in a presentation when you are absolutely guaranteed the attention of the audience; the beginning and the end. At the beginning people are looking at you with curiosity. They’re sizing you up and making judgments. So you have their attention but they’re not necessarily listening to a word you say.

Before you start you should have thought about the purpose of your presentation and it’s main message. This is a one short sentence summarizing the whole point you are making. Like “recycling is a good thing and easy to do when you plan properly” or “designing great slides is very easy when you know five simple rules.” You should also have decided what you want the audience to do or think when you’re finished. These things should be made clear in one form or another at the start and finish of your talk.  The form, however, can vary greatly, specially if you’re planning on starting with a mystery! (see below)

Start calmly and slowly. Walk slowly to the front of the room and don’t speak at the same time. Give people time to see you properly and get used to your voice. A person who is in control and command does not rush.

You may have heard the advice to grab people’s attention at the start. This gives the impression that you need to go out with all guns blazing but some energetic wild starts quickly fizzle out into plain and ordinary performances. You don’t so much need to grab people’s attention as to capture it and hold onto it.

By the way, if there is something genuinely distracting about how you look then say something about it. I once listened to a talk given by a guy with his leg in plaster and he didn’t refer to it ever. I spent most of the talk wondering how he’d done it and didn’t hear a word he said. So mention the elephant in the room first and then move on. Otherwise, allow for people to spend some time sizing you up and don’t say the most important thing at the very start.

The key principles of a good start

Clarity and relevance
What exactly will you be talking about? If you are one of many presenters you need very quickly to let people know, metaphorically speaking, what planet you’re on, followed quickly by the country, city right down to the very spot where you are standing (the scope of your presentation), if you see what I mean.

Start by answering the following: Why should people listen to you? Why is the subject interesting? What are you going to deliver? Make them care.
In other words, tell them what they’ll get out of it all. Tell them the end so they understand why they should listen.

You could say for instance, “at the end of this talk you will understand exactly what you need to do to earn €1000”. Or, “at the end of this talk you will knows the three steps that you can do tomorrow to improve your running style”.

Be as specific and clear as possible when telling people why they should listen to you.

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17
Jun

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Robert FrostRobert FrostTeach NASA instructors how to use PowerPoint effectively

No.  Presenters should not hand out their PowerPoint slides.
When one allows their PowerPoint slides to serve as handouts, one starts to design their PowerPoint slides to serve as handouts.

The purpose of a slide and the purpose of a handout are not the same:

Slide: a slide serves to visually interpret the idea that the speaker is discussing.  It is not supposed to have to stand alone.  It exists for the brief period of time that the presenter is speaking.  The spoken words and the visual interpretation are supposed to complement each other.

Handout: a handout is a reference that the audience will take with them and refer to at a later point in time, to refresh themselves on the material.  It needs to convey the full message, in the absence of the presenter.

I recommend creating a summary sheet to accompany your presentation.  That summary sheet will consist of full sentence and paragraph summaries of your main ideas in addition to the most useful visuals from your slides.  Your audience will be much more grateful for a single sheet of paper that will still make sense if they look at it in six months than they will in being given a 50-page stack of printouts of your slides that, absent your narration, will not make sense in six months.

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09
Jun

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Adriaan Bloem

Adriaan BloemSr Mgr Online at MBC

  • Use large fonts. The beamer will probably have a low resolution (you might still come across a 800×600!) and people need to read at a glance. 30 points minimum.
  • Don’t use Serif fonts. (Like Times: the fonts with the small hooks at the ends.) They were designed for legibility and space saving in print. Print is very high resolution, you want to save paper and ink because they cost money. In PowerPoint, paper and ink are free: go for a Sans Serif!
  • To sum it up: 30 points or larger Sans Serif. E.g., Helvetica, Arial, Verdana, Lucida.

des-8-2
…but sometimes, to make an impact, you have to break the rules. Sometimes, much larger, frivolous or very stern fonts can set the tone. Just be very sure why you would break the rules, understand the drawbacks, and please… don’t ever use more than two different fonts!

I have seen presentations in Courier and Mistral where it worked very well. Usually, though, it’s a terrible idea.

If your bullets don’t fit with the 30 point minimum, by the way, that’s a major clue there’s too much text on your slide.

07
Apr

This is a guest post from Stacy Ennis. Stacy is a book and magazine editor, writer, book coach, and speaker, as well as the author of The Editor’s Eye: A Practical Guide to Transforming Your Book from Good to Great. She works with a wide range of clients, from celebrities and corporate clients to independent authors and small book presses and also ghostwrites magazine articles, web content, and books, often reaching national and international audiences.

Public speaking and writing seem opposite of one another, yet both are necessary to become a successful author. Nancy Buffington is a public speaking coach who helps authors improve their presence in front of audiences. Here is an interview with Nancy.

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Stacy: Why are public speaking skills important for authors?

Nancy: These days, you can’t afford to be a shy, retiring writer scribbling in the attic. Just to get published, you need to show that you’re willing and more than able to pull off signings, readings, radio and TV interviews. Basically, to be a successful author these days, you need to play a central part on your publicity team.

Stacy: Are there any shared qualities between being a good writer and a good speaker?

Nancy: In both cases, you’re trying to connect with an audience—but when you’re writing, you don’t actually see that audience in front of you. Speaking can make you a much better writer—you get instant feedback from a range of real, live audience members, and you have to be clear (no chance for a live audience to thumb back a few pages if they get lost). Likewise, writing well can make you a better speaker, with a clearer sense of purpose, ideas explored in depth, vivid storytelling, and a structure that really works.

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03
Apr

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by Josephine Roy

As a presentation tool PowerPoint can be used to:


organise and structure your presentation; 
create a professional and consistent format; 
provide an illustrative backdrop for the content of your presentation; 
animate your slides to give them greater visual impact. 

Step 1: Designing PowerPoint slides 

There are a number of features to consider when designing effective PowerPoint slides. The guidelines given below will ensure you create slides that will be easy for your audience to read and understand. 
Using colour 

Be consistent. Ensure that all of your slides have the same or similar background images and colour schemes. PowerPoint’s design templates can be used for this. 
Prepare slides that use a bold colour contrast, e.g. black or deep blue text on a cream background (black and white can be too glaring for the audience). 
Avoid using red or green for text or highlighting as it can be difficult to read. 

Using text 

Avoid using too much text. A useful guideline is the six-by-six rule (slides should have no more than six bullet points and each bullet point should be no more than six words long). 
Create bullet points which are clear summaries of key points. It is not necessary for bullet points to be complete sentences. 
Don’t mix up your fonts and font sizes. Too many variations in font size and type can be visually confusing. 
Ensure that your text is at least 24pt otherwise it may be difficult to read on screen. 
Choose left align for all text to make it easier to read. 
Avoid multiple columns of text on a single slide as they can be difficult to follow on screen. 
Use bold for a clear and simple form of emphasis and headings rather than UPPER CASE, italics or underlining. 
Set clear hierarchies for type size to help your audience distinguish between headings, main text and other types of text. 

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03
Mar

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FAIL #1: Using the same deck for in-person presentations and for email

CAYA

Garr Reynolds was one of Steve Jobs’ presentation trainers. On his bookPresentation Zen, he introduces the term presdoc. A presdoc is a hybrid between a presentation and a text document that serves neither purpose well… it has too much text to be a proper presentation, and to few text to be a readable, understandable document.

If you are standing in front of your slides there’s no need to type everything you are about to say. It distracts your audience, because they can’t hear you and read at the same time. If you intend to present, make sure that your slides simply complement and reinforce your point.

You can’t always present in person, in these cases an alternative may be an email-presentation. These decks contain much more data than an actual presentation, but shouldn’t be a replacement to an actual text doc.

A couple rules to keep in mind are:

- Make sure that the font size doesn’t go below 12pts.

- Stick to one idea per slide. More slides is not necessarily bad, as long as you don’t go over 50 or so.

 

The most important thing here is, don’t use the same presentation to email and to present, make (at least) two separate documents. 

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