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Presentation tips from the EMBO meeting

Posted by , on 27 September 2012

At the EMBO meeting earlier this week, I had the opportunity to ask a few of the plenary speakers how they prepared for their talks. These speakers all had clear presentations that were easy to follow, even if you didn’t know much about the background of their field. It turns out that that was no coincidence: they consciously designed their talks that way.

I asked Ingrid Grummt, Jiří Friml, and Linda Partridge how they prepared for their talks, and if they had any tips for people who are due to give a conference presentation.

All three of them gave the same two basic tips:

1. Spend time preparing your slides. Don’t put too much information on them.
2. Always keep your audience in mind. They don’t know as much about your field as you do.

What they did not agree on was whether or not you should practise your talk. Linda Partridge is a proponent of practising, while Ingrid Grummt said she doesn’t practise her presentations. It comes down to your personal preference. Do you practise?

Friml said that he also considered his slot in the day’s conference programme. As EMBO Gold Medal winner, he was scheduled as the last speaker before dinner, so he tried to make his talk entertaining at points. One memorable quote from his lecture: “Plants also undergo embryogenesis. Keep that in mind next time you’re eating peanuts, please.”

Finally, the EMBO Meeting YouTube channel also has a video with useful presentation tips from Jon Copley. You’ll notice a lot of overlap with the advice collected above:

With these tips, your next talk is going to be amazing!

(Full interviews with Jiří Friml and Linda Partridge will appear on the Node later, as well as a summary of the last few days of the meeting.)

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