Presentation Guidelines for CS 97
Next Monday (4/26) we will begin project presentations in CS 97. If you
would like to give your presentation in the Sun Lab in order to do computer
demos, let me know. Otherwise, I'll just assume that an overhead projector
in Sproul 31A will be enough for you. Here is the schedule of presenters:
|April 26 (next week)
||May 3 (following week)
||Ethan and Alex
|Chris and John R.
||Matt and Roger
You will have 30 minutes for your presentation. If you're doing a joint
presentation, plan on 45-60 minutes, since presumably you and your partner
will have more to talk about than if you had done a project on your own. For
a joint presentation, have one person present the first half, and the other
the second half.
Here are a few other DOs and DON'Ts to keep in mind as you plan your talk,
all of which could come in handy someday if you ever have to present an
academic paper at a conference:
- DO augment your talk with some form of visual material, such as overhead
projector slides (I'll make sure an overhead projector is available). A
well-chosen picture or graph is usually more effective at conveying
information than just using words. Color slides can be even more effective,
AS LONG AS the color actually conveys useful information. In other words,
don't waste your time making slick, colorful, marketing-seminar-type slides
just so they'll look more impressive. If you're planning on including a
computer demo, it's probably best to do the actual demo at the end of your
talk, after the audience has been suitably "primed", so that they'll have a
much better understanding of what they're seeing.
- DON'T have too many slides. You'll probably end up spending around 3-5
minutes on each slide, which works out to something on the order of 10 slides
for a 30 minute talk. 30 minutes may sound like a long time at first, but
it's not. You'll find that once you start talking, the time will fly by.
It's better to say too little about something and keep going, than to get
bogged down in details early on. Your experience will be much more enjoyable
if you don't feel like you have to rush through things on account of the
time. If you finish early, then you'll have more time for questions, or you
can go back and flesh out the details of something you said earlier.
- DON'T overload your slides with words. This is probably the most common
mistake that people make when giving a presentation. If a slide is covered
with words, your audience won't bother trying to read it, especially while
you're up there talking at the same time. The same goes for slides with
mathematical equations, mathematical proofs, or computer source code. Keep
your slides simple and to the point. If you just can't avoid a slide with
lots of words/equations/etc., that's probably an indication that you should
instead try to spread the ideas across several slides. A corollary of this
rule is to use BIG FONTS---the bigger the better. It's extremely annoying to
try to read microscopic-sized text on a slide, especially from far away.
- DO give clear, concise examples of what you're talking about---throughout
your talk. If you don't, you'll probably end up losing your audience.
They'll tune you out fast and get bored, and miss out on all of the really
interesting things you're trying to tell them.
- DON'T just get up there and wing it. Think about what you want to say
ahead of time, and write out a general outline of the structure of your talk,
and of the points you want to cover. A good breakdown for a 30-minute talk
is the following:
- Spend a few minutes at the beginning on the general background ideas
necessary to understand what you're going to be talking about. For example,
if your project was based on a board game, make sure that your audience
understands generally how the game is played.
- Spend the next 5-10 minutes outlining what questions you were interested
in addressing and how you decided to address them. For example, if you ran
computer experiments, describe the design of your experiments, and what you
were trying to find out by doing them.
- Spend the next 10-15 minutes describing the actual results you obtained.
This will probably be the meat of your talk.
- Finally, spend the last 5-10 minutes interpreting the results of your work
and describing your conclusions. Were you able to answer the questions you
set out to investigate? If so, spell out what exactly you learned. If not,
why do you think your work failed to tell you what you wanted to know?
- DO leave a few minutes for questions at the end of your talk, if possible.
Since the final versions of the projects are not due until May 14, some of
your work may still be in progress. If you are presenting unfinished work,
you may want to use the question period as a chance to ask others in the
class for suggestions and feedback on those aspects of the project that you
- And finally... keep in mind that, after all, it's just a class presentation
among friends. You're not doing a job interview or a live TV broadcast to
millions of people around the world, so you don't need to feel overly
nervous. I'm sure you'll have a friendly audience. So do a good job, and
I'll see you on Monday. I'm really looking forward to hearing about your