Monday, February 11, 2013

Presenting your work

The photo that is currently the header in this blog is a cropped version of this one:

These rocks are Nordegg Member limestones and sandstones; part of the Jurassic Fernie Formation in west-central Alberta. Although I used mainly subsurface data for my MSc, I did spend a couple of days in the field looking at outcrop equivalents to the units I was studying. I can't say enough about how important this was for me to really be able to visualize relationships, both spatially and temporally.

I took this photo about a year into my MSc, and once I had it I started using it for presentations because I like it and it is relevant.

Every PowerPoint presentation I put together on my research has the same design. I didn't use the photo on posters, but I did use the same colours (the school colours) for outlining sections of my posters as I used for separators/outlines on my slides.

This photo is on the title slides, and a cropped version similar to the blog header is along the bottom of each slide.  I use a "footer" on the bottom of PowerPoint slides because unless you are in an auditorium that slopes to the front, very few people will be able to see any content in that space.

I use the logos for my university and my research group on all of my slides. On a white background, the logos are in full colour, but on a coloured background, the logos are a single colour. Besides the fact that it looks better, some universities have rules about using their logos, and for my MSc school, this was one of them.

Sample title slide for my MSc research
Sample text slide for my MSc research.
This is the most text I would ever put on a single slide.

For the content, I use a white background with black text in the default font. The simpler, the better. The example I have here is a text slide, but it is one of very few that I put into my presentations. I try to minimize the text on the slides. Instead, I have arrows and circles to remind me what points I want to make about each slide. When I do have text, such as in the slide above, I make each bullet point appear (using the simplest animation possible) as I discuss it, so that the audience and I are going through the material at the same pace.

I try to keep my slides as simple as possible. I try only put content in the frame I've created with the slide design (i.e. no covering my beloved outcrop photo). Unless I'm directly comparing something on two different figures, I don't put figures on top of each other with animations. A new figure gets a new slide. If I do use animations, it is to make the annotations appear in the order I want to talk about them.

I never flip back through my slides during a presentation. It's too easy to get lost (for the presenter and the audience). If I want to show something again for emphasis, I make a duplicate of the slide and place the copy where I want to show it the second time. This also makes it easier to estimate the time I'll need based on the number of slides I have.

One of the exciting things (for me) about starting new research is getting to pick new designs for presenting my work. I don't have field photos yet so I'm using maps and a scrap of unmarked seismic. I suspect I may end up with more than one design for my current research, because it is a bit broader than my MSc research was. The challenge fun part will be finding a way to tie the designs together in a cohesive way.

1 comment:

  1. Your thesis presentation looks amazing! I wish I can see that whole paper for myself, and maybe get some help with thesis writing. Maybe it would be a good idea to publish it online, so that others on the same field as you can get some information and data from their research.