Saturday, February 4, 2012

Another presentation style

Last Wednesday, I gave a presentation about my research. Usually, I follow the same consecutive steps in my presentation (overview - background/ literature review - experiments - results  - conclusions), just as I would build up a paper.
This time, however, I opted for a different style, and I think it also worked towards bringing a coherent story. I tried to follow the logic of a mathematical proof (theorem - proof - consequences) this time. Here's a brief overview of how I structured my talk:

1. Overview
I still start my presentations with an overview slide - maybe one day I'll also drop that and find a more natural way to start. I'd love to hear suggestions for that.


2. Recommendations
After the introduction, I immediately summed up the recommendations we've developed based on my research; and I treated this as the theorem to be proven.



3. Tools we used
As a background, I briefly introduced the experimental setup and the database from the literature I've compiled. These are the key elements to my proof, and in all further slides I heavily leaned on proof and data pulled from the experimental results and the database.


4. Proof for the recommendations
 This part was the largest chunk of the presentation. I took the audience by the hand (or at least, tried to do so) and walked them through the evidence for my recommendations.


5. Consequences
In one of the final stages, I showed the implications of the recommendations; and the results for 8 cases of solid slab bridges.

6. Outlook
Which questions are still open? What are we working on now? In a final slide, I pointed towards the future.

6 comments:

  1. Interesting - what was the reaction from the audience?

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  2. That is interesting. What made you decide to change your presentation style? It's always exciting trying new things. Do you think you'll do it this way again?

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  3. I was just wondering what would be the best way to bring my story. Usually, I start from an old presentation, keep some slides, throw out some and add some.
    This time, I started with a pen and a blank sheet of paper, and I asked myself: 'What is my message", and "How would I tell this to someone". That's how I ended up trying it out in a different way. And yes, I like changing things around and trying out what works best.
    Also, I think the audience (a technical committee) received it well - at least, I got very useful questions and had some good conversations afterwards as well (which made me feel very inspired).

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  4. Yes it was one of your best presentations that i have attended. I really liked it and the whole time i was thinking that this is completely new style - It was very engaging :)

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  5. When writing a press release about research we go through a similar process, by reversing the order of the scientific paper: we start with the conclusions and work our way back from there.

    In our line of work, the 'so what'-question is most important, maybe this blog (Dutch) has some pointers for presentations as well:
    http://roymeijer.weblog.tudelft.nl/2011/01/29/nou-en

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