Some Tips for Giving Good Research Talks


It is important in a presentation to have a good organization. You don't need to explicitly present your outline to your audience (as this takes up precious time), but you should keep your outline in your mind as you prepare and present your talk. The following list gives a generic outline for a technical research talk:

  1. Introduction. Motivate the problem being presented. Describe the essential issues and why this problem is important.
  2. Previous work. Describe related previous work and how it relates to this work being presented. Refer to previous papers using the last-name and year.
  3. New contributions. Concisely present the main, new results that this research contributed.
  4. Details. Go into a reasonable amount of detail describing the new work, how it functions, why it is correct, and why it is better than the previous, including theoretical and experimental analysis, as appropriate. Rule-of-thumb: if a proof needs to go for more than 1-2 slides, then this proof needs to be broken down into separate lemmas.
  5. Conclusion. Wrap up by reminding the audience what was contributed in this work. Also, include possible directions for future work.

General Recommendations

One can gain audience interest and comprehension by using the following techniques:

  1. Try to include a picture, figure, or diagram on every slide.
  2. Try to anticipate what questions your audience will have and be ready with bullet points or slides to address them.
  3. Have a title at the top of every slide, which names the topic being discussed
  4. Don't be afraid to use clip art and cartoons where appropriate, but don't over do it here.

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Michael T. Goodrich