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How to Give a Good Talk Bonnie Dorr. The speaker approaches the head of the room and sits down at the table. (You can't see him/her through the heads.

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Presentation on theme: "How to Give a Good Talk Bonnie Dorr. The speaker approaches the head of the room and sits down at the table. (You can't see him/her through the heads."— Presentation transcript:

1 How to Give a Good Talk Bonnie Dorr

2 The speaker approaches the head of the room and sits down at the table. (You can't see him/her through the heads in front of you.) S/he begins to read from a paper, speaking in a soft monotone. (You can hardly hear. Soon you're nodding off.) Sentences are long, complex, and filled with jargon. The speaker emphasizes complicated details. (You rapidly lose the thread of the talk.) With five minutes left in the session, the speaker suddenly looks at his/her watch. S/he announces -- in apparent surprise -- that s/he'll have to omit the most important points because time is running out. S/he shuffles papers, becoming flustered and confused. (You do too, if you're still awake.) S/he drones on. Fifteen minutes after the scheduled end of the talk, the host reminds the speaker to finish for the third time. The speaker trails off inconclusively and asks for questions. (Thin, polite applause finally rouses you from dreamland.) [Paul Edwards on “How to give a talk”]

3 What’s wrong with this picture?  Reading  Sitting  No visual aids  Small print, busy slides  No moving about  Monotone  Mumbling  Facing downward  Lost in details  Running overtime  No conclusion  Ignoring audience Talk Stand Diagrams, graphs Large print Move Vary pitch Speak loudly/clearly Eye contact Focus on main points Finish on time Summarize, conclude Respond to audience

4 What will I talk about today?  Central Messages –Giving a good talk is important! –Don’t annoy your audience!  Preparation –Where are you presenting? –Who is your audience? –What is your central message? –How are your slides put together? –How do you answer questions?  Presentation Types –oral exam or thesis defense –conference talk  Summary

5 Giving a Good Talk: It’s important!  More people will see your talks than will read your papers  The audience will form their impressions of you based on your talks  Early in career, treat every talk like an interview talk  Start as early as you can—no later than 1 year before your PhD [Tamara G. Kolda, 2002]

6 How might I annoy my audience?  not be neat (in good order)  not covet brevity (concise)  not write large  not use color  not illustrate  not make eye contact  not skip slides in a long talk  not practice [David Patterson, circa 1983]

7 Preparation  Know what your surroundings will be like: size of room, microphone, equipment, etc.  Know your audience and tune your message to that audience  Get to the point—early and often  Organize your slides so that they effectively deliver your central message  Answer questions skillfully

8 Where are you presenting?

9 Know your surroundings  Look at the hall: you want the place to be “comfortably crowded”  How many people will be there? Nature of talk changes with size of audience! –20 people: discussion is possible –50 people: performance is expected  Find out who has talked before  Schedule talk for 11am  Mood: people reading newspapers will make you feel bad! (Don’t allow it.) [Patrick Winston on “How to Speak”]

10 Who is your audience?

11 Know your Audience  One of the biggest mistakes speakers make is not knowing their audience!  Will your audience include … –Specialists in your sub-field? In your field? –Researchers in the computer/mathematical sciences –Engineers and scientists? –Faculty and postdoctoral researchers? Graduate students? Undergraduates? [Tamara G. Kolda, 2002]

12 Delivering the central message  What did you do? Why is it important?  What’s the one-sentence summary of your talk that the audience should walk away with?  Tune your message to your audience –Symbolic knowledge improves statistical techniques for cross- language topic detection and generation of short summaries to represent foreign-language news articles –Generation of English headlines for foreign news stories is enhanced when our algorithms use linguistic knowledge  Repeat the message over and over again throughout the talk  Keep the content of the talk focused on the central message [Tamara G. Kolda, 2002]

13 Slide Organization Sample outline of a research talk:  Title slide: credit to co-authors and funding agencies  Up-front “carrot” (attention-getter)  Outline (unless 10-15 min talk)  Background material  What you did –new algorithm, theorem, proof, computational paradigm  Why is it important –numerical results –contribution  Summary and future work [Tamara G. Kolda, 2002]

14 Background Material  Minimize background material  At least 2/3 of talk should be original work  Identify those who have done related work and spell their names correctly! Hint: People love to hear their own names.  Describe motivating applications that will later tie into your results

15 What you did  Emphasize your simple message repeatedly  Back it up with details of algorithm and theory  Use pictures and diagrams as much as possible in lieu of wordy explanation  Keep notation to a minimum and avoid too many abbreviations  Never use equation numbers—repeat the equation if necessary  Illustrate your points via simple examples

16 How do you present an algorithm?Like this …?

17 Finding the largest among five integers Or like this …?

18 Tables and Figures  Tables –Don’t make font too small –Use color for emphasis  Figures –Be sure axes are clearly labeled –Use color to differentiate lines –Don’t just copy verbatim out of a conference paper!

19 Why is it important?  Think BIG PICTURE!  Emphasize an application  What makes it a hard problem?  Why should people care?

20 Summary and Future Work  Repeat what you did  Repeat why it is important  Future work is important for recent PhDs because it shows you are thinking beyond your thesis problem  Include contact info at the end –email, web page

21 Fielding Questions  Repeat the question.  Talk.  Demonstrate knowledge of standard problem solving.  Draw a diagram.  Specify an analogy.  List the assumptions.  List the ideas and tools that seem relevant.  Respect the questioners and their questions  Inevitably, someone will tell you your work has already been done by someone else!

22 Oral Exam or Thesis Defense  Practice!!!!  Observe and try to emulate excellent speakers  Ask in advance what examiners will ask!  Memorize a few key sentences.  Get there early and set up!  Cycle in on what you have done.  Try to convey a sense of quiet confidence.

23 Conference talk  Title/author/affiliation (1 slide)  Forecast (1 slide)  Outline (1 slide)  Background –Motivation and Problem Statement (1-2 slides) –Related Work (0-1 slides) –Methods (1 slide)  Results (4-6 slides)  Summary (1 slide)  Future Work (0-1 slides)  Backup Slides [Mark Hill, 1992]

24 Academic Interview  Take a 20-minute conference talk.  Expand the 5 minute intro to 20 minutes  Do the rest of the conference talk, minus the summary and future work.  Add 10 minutes of deeper stuff from your thesis.  Do the summary and future work from the conference talk in a manner accessible to all.  Add 10 ten minutes to survey all the other stuff you have done (to show your breadth).  Save 5 minutes for questions (to show that you are organized). [Mark Hill, 1992]

25 Take-Home Messages  Know your audience  Create a simple message and repeat it several times  Allow plenty of time to prepare your talk  Practice!  Don’t block the slides during the talk  Speak slowly, clearly  Don’t run over on time  Have fun and learn from your mistakes

26 Thanks goes to …     

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