Monday, January 7, 2019

A good (but not great) article on how to give a scientific talk

In an editorial supplement to the venerable Nature magazine called the Nature Events Guide 2019 there was an article by Nic Fleming on December 19, 2018 titled How to give a great scientific talk (which also can be downloaded as a two-page pdf file). He provides a good grab bag of advice from several people. But curiously he doesn’t provide links to any of those advisors.  

Nic opens by describing how PhD candidate Eileen Courtney was a bundle of nerves, and realized she needed help getting over her fear of speaking. Then he mentions Susan McConnell, a neurologist at Stanford who for over a decade has been doing presentations on how to give a talk. This would be a good point for a link to her five-minute YouTube video on The importance of giving a good talk.

And then he has an insert from Ramona J. Smith, the 2018 Toastmasters World Champion, with her Top 10 Tips. In the next to last paragraph he talks about Toastmasters International, and how Eileen Courtney joined them, got over her fear, and was runner-up in the 3 Minute Wonder Competition held by the Institute of Physics with her presentation on Graphene you can watch on YouTube. There is another insert with Eileen Courtney’s tips on how to Conquer Nerves.

Then he gives some advice from Dave Rubenson, who has a company called You will find more specific advice from Dave in an article from 2016 on the naturejobs blog titled A David Letterman-like countdown to the 10 biggest pitfalls in scientific presentations.  

Then he goes back to Susan McConnell and mentions her popular 42-minute online video, which is from 2011, is titled Designing effective scientific presentations using PowerPoint and structuring your talk, and can be viewed here on YouTube. He says that that Matt Carter’s 2013 book Designing Science Presentations is another source of advice. But McConnell relied instead on (and referenced) Michael Alley’s book The Craft of Scientific Presentations. Her slide design method (at 22:50 in the video) is Alley’s, which I blogged about on February 19, 2014 in a detailed post titled Assertion-Evidence PowerPoint slides are a visual alternative to bullet point lists.   

On October 3, 2012 I had blogged about a Free ebook on Communicating Science and other geeky topics. That 33-page publication still is available from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund as a free .pdf file.

An image of a mad scientist holding a key came from Openclipart.  

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