I gave my first conference presentation in June, 2008 and thought that it was terribly boring. I presented the results of my Masters thesis and since I’m quite new to the whole “being an academic” thing, I did it the same way that everyone else was doing it. In other words, I fired up OpenOffice and began adding bullet points. I knew that I wasn’t happy with it, and I knew that there must be a better way of presenting my work, but didn’t really know how.
Since then I’ve learned a little more about giving effective presentations (although I’m not, by any stretch of the imagination, a good presenter), and with each subsequent one I’ve given I’ve gained the confidence to try something different. I’ll always try something to break the tedium of merely summarising my results into bullet points, and along the way I’ve learned a few useful thing. Here are some sources of inspiration for me.
- All of the presentations given at the TED conference, as well as these “rules” for presenting at TED.
- Presentation Zen. I’ve selected a few posts that I really enjoyed: “No excuse for tedium“, “The power of story“, “Naked presentations” and “Rule of thirds” (Note: I’ve modified the titles for the sake of brevity)
- “The machine is (us)ing us“, and “Did you know 3.0“, on YouTube
- Garr Reynolds’ Top 10 Slide Tips
- These presentations by Lawrence Lessig on Free Culture, and by Dick Hardt on Identity 2.0 (the intro is the best part)
- “Let there be stoning“, a great essay on the dangers of giving poor scientific / academic presentations.
- “Death by Powerpoint“. It’s a little dated but still relevant.
Finally, I try to remember that my goal in giving a presentation should be to entertain, not just to inform. On a related topic, read this post by Seth Godin on why most academic conferences are…typical.