Bourne, 2007-10 simple rules for making good oral presentations

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Bourne, 2007-10 simple rules for making good oral presentations

  1. 1. EditorialTen Simple Rules for Making Good OralPresentationsPhilip E. Bourne ontinuing our ‘‘Ten Simple your presentation was either Rule 7: Practice and Time YourC Rules’’ series [1–5], we consider here what it takes to make agood oral presentation. While the rules incomprehensible or trite. A side effect of too much material is that you talk too quickly, another ingredient of Presentation This is particularly important for inexperienced presenters. Even moreapply broadly across disciplines, they a lost message. important, when you give theare certainly important from the presentation, stick to what youperspective of this readership. Clear Rule 3: Only Talk When You Have practice. It is common to deviate, andand logical delivery of your ideas and Something to Say even worse to start presenting materialscientific results is an important Do not be overzealous about what that you know less about than thecomponent of a successful scientific you think you will have available to audience does. The more you practice,career. Presentations encourage present when the time comes. Research the less likely you will be to go off onbroader dissemination of your work never goes as fast as you would like. tangents. Visual cues help here. Theand highlight work that may not Remember the audience’s time is more presentations you give, the betterreceive attention in written form. precious and should not be abused by you are going to get. In a scientific presentation of uninteresting environment, take every opportunity toRule 1: Talk to the Audience preliminary material. do journal club and become a teaching We do not mean face the audience, assistant if it allows you to present. Analthough gaining eye contact with as Rule 4: Make the Take-Home important talk should not be given formany people as possible when you Message Persistent the first time to an audience of peers.present is important since it adds a A good rule of thumb would seem to You should have delivered it to yourlevel of intimacy and comfort to the be that if you ask a member of the research collaborators who will bepresentation. We mean prepare audience a week later about your kinder and gentler but still point outpresentations that address the target presentation, they should be able to obvious discrepancies. Laboratoryaudience. Be sure you know who your remember three points. If these are the group meetings are a fine forum foraudience is—what are their key points you were trying to get this.backgrounds and knowledge level of across, you have done a good job. Ifthe material you are presenting and they can remember any three points, Rule 8: Use Visuals Sparingly butwhat they are hoping to get out of the but not the key points, then your Effectivelypresentation? Off-topic presentations emphasis was wrong. It is obvious what Presenters have different styles ofare usually boring and will not endear it means if they cannot recall three presenting. Some can captivate theyou to the audience. Deliver what the audience with no visuals (rare); others points!audience wants to hear. require visual cues and in addition, Rule 5: Be Logical depending on the material, may not beRule 2: Less is More Think of the presentation as a story. able to present a particular topic well A common mistake of There is a logical flow—a clear without the appropriate visuals such asinexperienced presenters is to try to beginning, middle, and an end. You set graphs and charts. Preparing goodsay too much. They feel the need to the stage (beginning), you tell the story visual materials will be the subject of aprove themselves by proving to the (middle), and you have a big finish (the further Ten Simple Rules. Rule 7 willaudience that they know a lot. As a end) where the take-home message isresult, the main message is often lost, clearly understood.and valuable question time is usuallycurtailed. Your knowledge of the Rule 6: Treat the Floor as a Stage Citation: Bourne PE (2007) Ten simple rules forsubject is best expressed through a Presentations should be making good oral presentations. PLoS Comput Biolclear and concise presentation that is entertaining, but do not overdo it and 3(4): e77. doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.0030077provocative and leads to a dialog do know your limits. If you are not Copyright: Ó 2007 Philip E. Bourne. This is an open-during the question-and-answer humorous by nature, do not try and be access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, whichsession when the audience becomes humorous. If you are not good at permits unrestricted use, distribution, andactive participants. At that point, your telling anecdotes, do not try and tell reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.knowledge of the material will likely anecdotes, and so on. A goodbecome clear. If you do not get any entertainer will captivate the audience Dr. Philip E. Bourne is a Professor in the Department of Pharmacology, University of California San Diego,questions, then you have not been and increase the likelihood of obeying La Jolla, California, United States of America. E-mail:following the other rules. Most likely, Rule 4. bourne@sdsc.edu PLoS Computational Biology | www.ploscompbiol.org 0593 April 2007 | Volume 3 | Issue 4 | e77
  2. 2. help you to define the right number of violation of the other rules. Work hard presentation will go well, andvisuals for a particular presentation. A on breaking bad habits; it is afterward you feel it did not go well.useful rule of thumb for us is if you important. Other times you dread what thehave more than one visual for each audience will think, and you comeminute you are talking, you have too Rule 10: Provide Appropriate away pleased as punch. Such is life. Asmany and you will run over time. Acknowledgments always, we welcome your comments onObviously some visuals are quick, People love to be acknowledged for these Ten Simple Rules by Readerothers take time to get the message their contributions. Having many Response. &across; again Rule 7 will help. Avoid gratuitous acknowledgements degradesreading the visual unless you wish to the people who actually contributed. If you defy Rule 7, then you will not be Acknowledgmentsemphasize the point explicitly, theaudience can read, too! The visual able to acknowledge people and The idea for this particular Ten Simpleshould support what you are saying organizations appropriately, as you will Rules was inspired by a conversation with run out of time. It is often appropriate Fiona Addison.either for emphasis or with data to Funding. The author received no specificprove the verbal point. Finally, do not to acknowledge people at the funding for this article.overload the visual. Make the points beginning or at the point of their Competing interests. The author has declared contribution so that their that no competing interests exist.few and clear. contributions are very clear. ReferencesRule 9: Review Audio and/or Video of As a final word of caution, we have 1. Bourne PE (2005) Ten simple rules for gettingYour Presentations found that even in following the Ten published. PLoS Comp Biol 1: e57. 2. Bourne PE, Chalupa LM (2006) Ten simple There is nothing more effective than Simple Rules (or perhaps thinking we rules for getting grants. PLoS Comp Biol 2:listening to, or listening to and are following them), the outcome of a e12.viewing, a presentation you have presentation is not always guaranteed. 3. Bourne PE, Korngreen A (2006) Ten simple rules for reviewers. PLoS Comp Biol 2: e110.made. Violations of the other rules will Audience–presenter dynamics are hard 4. Bourne PE, Friedberg I (2006) Ten simple rulesbecome obvious. Seeing what is wrong to predict even though the metric of for selecting a postdoctoral fellowship. PLoSis easy, correcting it the next time depth and intensity of questions and Comp Biol 2: e121. 5. Vicens Q, Bourne PE (2007) Ten simple rulesaround is not. You will likely need to off-line followup provide excellent for a successful collaboration. PLoS Comp Biolbreak bad habits that lead to the indicators. Sometimes you are sure a 3: e44. PLoS Computational Biology | www.ploscompbiol.org 0594 April 2007 | Volume 3 | Issue 4 | e77

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