EE384Y: Final Presentation
- Each talk should be given by just one student.
- Although each talk is given 20 mins, the talk
should last only 15 mins. The remaining 5 mins
would be for questions. The 15 minute limit will be strictly
imposed without exception.
- You should bring 10 copies of your slides to
the talk (ideally 2 slides to a page, double sided)
Being a professional engineer or researcher means you often have
present your work to your colleagues. Giving an effective technical
requires a lot of preparation and practice. For example, in preparation
a 15 minute conference talk, it's quite common for a researcher to
several days preparing, and give several practice talks along the way.
are some guidelines to follow while preparing your presentation.
- In the beginning, forget the slides.
The most common mistake in giving a talk is to focus too much attention
on the preparation of your slides. Remember that the talk is what comes
of the speaker's mouth, not the slides. Resist the temptation to spend
your preparation time working on pretty powerpoint slides. Instead,
the outline and script of your talk first, and only then think about
slides might help to illustrate some of the key points you are trying
make. A good rule of thumb is to spend 75% of the preparation time on
outline and script, and 25% of the time preparing slides. Remember that
world's best orators give great talks without slides!
- Write a 1-paragraph abstract that summarises your talk.
Before you start preparing the outline and details, write down a brief
It's worth spending some time on it. (For what it's worth, even though
given hundreds of talks and lectures, I still do this before every talk
and lecture I prepare).
Try to write, in the most concise and clear way, a brief summary of the
talk. What problem are you solving, and why is it interesting? What is
context in which you are doing the work? What is the essence of your
and your results? What is the "ah hah!" factor --- what do you want
audience to take away from the talk? If you can't write a 1-paragraph
it tells you that you don't have a clear idea of what the talk is
you have a good paragraph written, you can be sure that the talk will
a lot easier to prepare.
- Prepare a bulleted outline of the whole talk.
Prepare an outline - perhaps in the form of 30-40 bullets - that shows
the flow of the whole talk. This will help identify missing or
sections; and will help balance the amount of information you include
each part of the talk. It is often tempting to spend too much on one,
unimportant detail, leaving too little time for the important stuff.
- Script the whole talk, and learn it.
Yes - I mean it. Write down, word for word, your whole talk. You'd be
amazed at how many people do this -- even skilled speakers who give
often. If the President can give speeches from a teleprompter, it tells
something about what makes a good talk. In many fields of the
researchers read all their talks from a script.
The trick is to script the whole talk, read it aloud many times and
learn it. Then the day before your talk, throw away your script. You'll
the key sentences and points, and by not reading it you'll make it
Having a script will make your talk get off on the right foot, and help
overcome nervousness. Perhaps most importantly, a script will help you
missing out some important points, and will help you make best use of
small amount of time you have.
- Pick/design some slides to illustrate key ideas.
Think about what slides you need to illustrate your script. Your slides
do not have to paint a complete picture on their own. It is a common
that the slides should be readable and meaningful without the speaker.
is baloney. If this were true, we wouldn't need the speaker! Think of
as illustrative tools, to help explain key ideas. It is not a good idea
use them to jog your memory; that is what your own notes are for.
- Practice the talk with the script several times.
- Throw away the script.
Once you have practiced the scripted talk a few times, throw your
away. You will remember the key phrases; and in the moment, you will
it together more naturally than you would by reading it.
- Give the presentation.
If all this seems like a lot of work, it is. Giving a good talk
many hours of preparation.