How to give a good talk?

Some advice for oral presentations

A few more or less self-evident but gentle reminders when preparing and executing an oral presentation.

  • Prepare the talk to fit the given time slot. You ruin the time keeping, you ruin the talk.
  • Get to the point. Avoid long introductions and overviews before the take-home message. Bring your results and conclusions upfront, save the background and justifications for support.
  • For a BLAM talk, you are the sole author of the presentation. Advisors and collaborators are acknowledged elsewhere (at the very beginning or at the end of the talk).
  • Make a few extra slides for the discussion after the talk, if needed. Perhaps you can anticipate some questions and clarify them with those slides.
  • Your last slide should be one with a summary or conclusions. This slide is kept up during the discussion and helps the audience to remember what the talk was about and what you have discovered. One big "Thanks-for-listening"-slide is just decorative at best.
  • This last slide can also have a few references or links to web sites.
  • Avoid packing your slides with too much information. Use key words instead of long sentences. Corollary: don't tell the audience everything you know and what you have discovered. Some is saved for later, some for the discussion, perhaps.
  • Color-blindness is not too uncommon. Make sure you use colors in figures and graphs in a way that minimizes confusion (such as using red and green as contrasting colors).
  • Force yourself to talk slowly if you are a fast talker (and a little nervousness often leads to rapid talk). Don't be afraid of a few moments of silence (and thinking).
  • Force yourself to speak up, even with a microphone.
  • Try to stay in roughly the same place on the floor. Some gentle movements are fine, but dancing or marching around deflects the attention of the audience.

Contact information

Martin Škerlep
Doctoral student
Aquatic Ecology

Telephone: +46 46 222 84 33
E-mail: Martin [dot] Skerlep [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se

Johannes Rousk
Professor
MEMEG

Telephone: +46 46 222 37 45
E-mail: Johannes [dot] Rousk [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se