You want your audience to be interested in what you say. In order to achieve that, you will have to present the contents of a (presumably) complex and boring article in a short, concise, and comprehensible form. The challenge is to convey enthusiasm for the topic on the one hand, while remaining scientifically correct on the other. Focus on the “headlines” of the article. Use a limited number of clear examples to make your point. Do not send the audience to sleep by swamping them with detail.
- Talks should last no longer than 20 min (or 15 min.; check with your supervisor). This requires careful preparation and makes it necessary to practice your talk in advance. In front of an audience, a talk always lasts longer than planned. Hence, trim your talk to last 15 min when you aim for 20 min. Your audience will be grateful.
- Talks may be in English or German, depending on the seminar. Check with the supervisors.
- You can use all audio-visual media (PowerPoint plus beamer, overhead, slides, blackboard). PowerPoint is recommended. We can offer you access to a computer to prepare or test your presentation.
- Talks should have a clear structure to facilitate understanding of scientific details. We recommend the following structure:
- Introduction: conceptual background ("why is this interesting?") (can be short)
- Hypotheses or research objectives (can be short)
- Materials and methods (only what is needed to understand the results - no details) (must be short)
- Results (can be long)
- Discussion ("were the expectations met?", "what are the alternative explanations?", "are more experiments needed?") (can be long)
- Conclusions/Summary (a catchy "bottom line") (very short)
It may be useful to present a “list of contents“ at the beginning of the talk.
- Slides or overheads should not contain too much text. Write no sentences, only essential words. (E.g. do not write "Males have smaller brains than females during the reproductive season" but "Brain size: males < females (summer)").
- Use figures if possible and tables if necessary to present complex data.
- Keep graphs simple. Take out the detail that you are not going to mention during your talk.
- To facilitate reading, use a large and clear font (e.g. Times New Roman or Arial, size; main title: 36-40; subtitles: 28-32; text: 20-24)
- Only use colours and animation when they contribute to clarity. Avoid a "busy" lay-out that distracts the audience.
- If you show scanned figures, make sure the resolution is ok (for a beamer minimum 1024 pixels width and 768 pixels height)
- Plan short breaks in your talk by changing media (e.g. from a slide to the blackboard), by throwing in a joke, or by simply waiting a few seconds. This allows everyone to take a deep breath to go on.
- For overhead sheets: use colour pens to highlight important parts in a (copied) graph. Make sure all graphs and characters are big enough. You should be able to read your (unprojected) sheet from 2-3 m.
- Note for seminars in German: English terms that cannot be easily translated can be used in the original form, but should be marked as “technical terms” (e.g. by quotation marks or italics).
- Make sure that you have a watch in view (not on your wrist)
- The chairman/woman shall interrupt your talk after 20 minutes!
- Speak loud and clearly. Face the audience rather than the screen or blackboard
- Important details may be highlighted with the help of a pointer (e.g. a laser pointer or a traditional stick). Do not point continuously. It makes the audience nervous.
- Do not walk around during your talk.
- Speak slowly. If you see that you are running out of time, skip slides, do not speak faster.