For whom are you presenting?

This is scientific meetings season, at least for me. This means a bunch of PPT presentations to prepare. It would be so much easier to just reuse an older presentation or merge past presentations. In fact, sometimes I feel that this is what is happening more and more often in these meetings. While I do use previously prepared materials, I always start by asking myself a few question key questions before even opening PowerPoint (or Keynote):

  • What is my target audience for this presentation? Are they specialists, knowledgeable but not directly in the field, scientists but other fields, students, general public, … Will it be a mixed audience?
  • What is my main message, what should be the take home message from this audience?
  • How much time do I have?
  • How much time should be left for questions (how much time I really want to give for questions!)?
  • What kind of talk I want to give for this specific conference/meeting/event? Scientific, technical, overview, …?
  • How many topics do I really need to cover based on the answers to the above questions? Topics here stand for various elements related to the given subject of the talk not completely different elements.

At this point, you have set the general parameters of your talk. No it is not the time to open PowerPoint; Now it is time to….go analog (but this is for another post)!

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