Effective Oral Presentations
This January I had the pleasure to participate at my first AAS meeting, in Austin, Texas! Some amateurish photos here. But more importantly, I’d like to share with you some of the things I’ve learnt from a very enjoyable and interesting talk on “Effective Oral Presentations” by Jean-Luc Dumont. The talk came at a perfect timing, as I was preparing my own talk on how to give great presentations, so expect more on this topic here 🙂 Until then, if you are a communicator who often has to give talks to the public and especially if you are a scientist who engages with the public, read further!
Things Jean-Luc shared with us:
1. In the US the number two fear that people have is the fear of death. The number one is of oral presentations.
2. When you give a talk it is your interest to make the audience pay attention, understand and act upon your message.
3. If you are the one having an interest, then take control of your presentation, don’t let the audience control it.
4. Three laws of communication:
- Rule #0: make sure you have messages, not just information. WHAT is information. SO WHAT is a message, an interpretation.
- Rule #1: Adapt to your audience, don’t expect the audience to adapt to you
- Rule #2: Maximise signal/noise ratio
5. Noise is: mic not working, workers outside, your fears inside
- Rule #3: Use effective redundancy
6. Effective redundancy is when you repeat certain messages for the audience that was not listening in the first place. Effective means you express the same message in different forms (audio, visual). It doesn’t mean you read out loud the text on a slide.
7. A bad slide is worse than no slide at all because it becomes noise.
8. One slide, one message.
9. Very practical tips:
- Start talking about yourself only when you introduce the task/goal of the presentation
- Print a presentation with 6 slides per page; if it’s too small to read, you have too much text
- If you don’t have 3 variables don’t make a 3D graph 🙂
- “Uuuhm” gives you half a second of thinking time, silence gives you up to 3 seconds before people realize you are thinking. Be silent between words 🙂
- Decide on a place on stage where you want to stay and stay fixed there.
- No part of your lower body should move because that is noise.
- End powerfully; the audience should realise you’ve ended without you saying “Thank you for your attention”.
I’ll be sharing more once I finish creating my own presentation on the topic!
And a recommendation: don’t miss the AAS meetings! It’s a wonderful opportunity to connect with the astronomical community and learn the latest in the field! And great fun too 🙂