How to Give a Great Talk

How to Give a Great Talk

How to Give a Great Talk

Alycia Weinberger

February 2, 2016


DTM staff scientist Alycia Weinberger hosted a postdoctoral workshop titled, "How to Give a Great Talk", on Tuesday, 2 February 2016, in the Greenewalt Lecture Hall.

We've all been to great scientific talks, as well as terrible ones. Throughout her presentation, Weinberger gave valuable pointers on how to make sure your talk communicates both the big picture questions and nuanced data of your work. Although a physical outline slide is not necessary, understanding the basic structure of your talk will help you present your talk effectively and coherently.

Key takeaways from the talk included: 

  • Have an outline of your talk in mind when presenting
  • Know your audience
  • Know your venue
  • Practice, practice, practice
  • Engage with your audience by making eye contact and reacting/adjusting to their questions and comments
  • Provide a conclusion at the end of your talk
  • Make yourself standout by using phrases like: "I developed..." or "I pioneered..." - throughout your talk

When designing your slides, make sure they communicate your research clearly. To do so, always credit plots, make slides for your audience instead of yourself, make sure your slide has a point, be aware of your font sizes, remember color vision issues, use good journal figures, and label all your slides.  Have backup slides, and use the pointers judiciously.

Although all talks are important, job talks are especially paramount. When giving one, demonstrate enthusiasm, curiosity, analytic skills/expertise, and creativity in your talk. To do so, make sure your talk answers the following questions:

  1. What is your five year plan?
  2. How does your research fit in the department?
  3. How do the questions you've already answered lead to new interesting projects?
  4. Do you have enough branch points for students?

Here is a list of interesting resources and websites from Carnegie Librarian Shaun Hardy. 

In attendance: 

DTMSerge Dieterich, Jessica Donaldson, Jacqueline Faherty, Brad Foley, Elizabeth Frank, Jonathan Gagn√©, Nan Liu, Miki Nakajima, Erika Nesvold, Rita Parai, Jesse Reimink, T.J. Rodigas, Myriam Telus, Johanna Teske, Rick Carlson, Janice Dunlap, Shaun Hardy, Mary Horan, Casey Leffue, Steve Shirey, and Amelie Simon (guest visitor)

GLMichael Ackerson, Neil Bennett, Megan Duncan, Zach Geballe, Colin Jackson, Corliss Kin I Sio, and Haidong Zhang, Yufei Meng, and Anat Shahar