Some pointers about giving talks that have worked for me over 40 years

  1. Tell the audience what you are going to do in the beginning, then go back over it at the end. It helps to clearly explain the hypothesis and how you went about supporting it.
  2. If it’s a general audience like a department with different areas of study, spend about 10-15 on an introduction.
  3. Make sure your data slides are simple with only 1 or 2 figures.
  4. Use key data slides to show important points. These data slides should tell the audience the type of experiments your lab does.
  5. Don’t overload the audience with tons of data. Remember the talk is not like a paper. You don’t need to prove anything in the slide. You are sending a message.
  6. Always go through the figure in the data slide so the audience understands the experiment. Don’t just point at a band on a gel and say, “that’s it”.
  7. Give credit to lab people when discussing their data, for example, “Grad student so and so did this immunoblot to show…”
  8. A future direction slide is helpful at the end to tell the audience where you are going next.
  9. Never go over in time! Remember the attention span of most people is about 20 min so if it looks like you are going past 40 min, wrap it up and summarize. Otherwise, the audience will start ignoring you.