Tips for presentations
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Some general suggestions when making slides and preparing the presentation. No need to follow them 100%, there can be exceptions. But usually they are helpful.
Here is a talk of mine, as one possible example of how one can implement these tips. Obviously, there are many many other ways! And careful: This talk was much longer than your 10-15 minutes!
- Do not put too much text. You should probably not have more than 8 lines on a slide, better 5. (Less is more!)
Why? Because 1. the audience otherwise has too much to read, and cannot pay attention to you, and 2. you have nothing interesting to say because you are only reading from the slide. It is better to have less text, only a few words, and then elaborate, explain more in detail while you are talking.
- Use only sans serif fonts (e.g. Arial is good, Times New Roman not). These are fonts made for being projected. Also, do not use very small fonts. The text should be legible from the last row.
- Do not have too many slides. You should probably not have more than 10 slides for 15 minutes, better 8. (Less is more!)
- Do not use complete sentences. E.g. instead of
"The simplest construction method is to use any comparison-based sorting algorithm and apply it to the suffixes of s."
"simplest: apply comparison-based sorting algorithm to suffixes of s"
- Do use pictures. A picture is worth a thousand words.
- Do use bullets or numbers to structure your text (i.e. numbered lists or unnumbered lists).
- Do use colours. But better to use only strong colours and few, and better check them beforehand (careful with yellow, green, and light blue). The colours may come out different on the wall than on your screen, and different on different projectors. Best are red, blue and green.
- Do use examples. An example usually explains an idea, an algorithm, a problem, better than text.
- This is an algorithms course. You should explain the algorithms in detail, as if you were a lecturer in a class. Use an example. Go into detail. When talking about running time or space, don't just state them, but explain why your claims hold.
- You are supposed to explain something (usually an algorithm). Use the books to help you understand what you have to explain. You can use examples from the books, even cite literally from them. But do not simply summarize the text I gave you. And do make your own examples: this helps you in understanding. (Then you may end up using the one from the book in your talk, but you will not understand the algorithm if you haven't tried it on your own example!)
- Do use page numbers, best in form x/y (x'th page of a total of y). (But if y is big, e.g. because of overlays, then don't put it, it will only scare off the audience.) This way people can refer back to a page more easily when asking a question.
- Do practice your talk. (Practice, practice, practice!) Give it several times, not only to yourself, but have a friend, or several, listen to it. Check the time. The more often you give your talk, the better it will be. The more often you give your talk, the better you will know what you want to say, and the better you will be able to say it even if you are a bit nervous.
- Do prepare for questions. You should be able to explain everything you have put on your slides.
- Your first slide should have the title of the talk and your name(s).
- Often a "Summary" slide is a nice last slide, maybe followed by a "Thank you for your attention" slide.
- Do prepare a first and a last sentence.