How to give a talk, Control the curve of excitement and get rid of the dreaded ''Thank You' slide
How to give a talk
(that doesn’t put your audience to sleep)
MIT Media Lab
• See my homepage (http://raskar.info)
– ‘How to come up with new ideas’
– ‘How to quickly get started writing a paper’
• How to give an academic talk, Paul Edwards
• Fredo Durand, MIT
• How to give a bad talk
• I will start with a statement that is too general
• Mention terms I haven’t explained yet
• I will talk about related work about topic you
don’t know yet
• Tell you more about things you have no idea
• I will show you results after you have already
• I will conclude with conclusion
• Don’t start with an OVERVIEW slide
• Start with a question or motivating example
• Give the zeroth order idea in one sentence
• Show the ‘magic’
– Conclusion goes first !
– Make the audience wonder how you will get there
– then on the next 2 slides show a teaser but give away the key idea!
• Gauge your audience and adapt. If you're not good at
gauging, just stick with your original presentation plan.
Curve of Excitement But there is more.
Wait and see how
next year I will
Audience show you more
Interest Teaser cool stuff. Go see
results, people are my website.
you got there
‘Whats in it for
You have shown me’ You give
the ‘magic’ with a audience
People are excited question or
even before you Cool results something they
motivating can use with
start because you example
have a great ‘Future Directions’
Nitty gritty of the
entation. You are
people but its ok. Time (or Slide #)
Curve of Boredom
Discuss future directions
Share results which you
were trying to keep
We don’t secret till the end
Real Curve know the
excited context of Describe second order
anyway the theory details
Too late to
Describe theory Audience is
No clue what the Start with meaningless
title/abstract, ‘Overview’ slide
know ‘why’Time (or Slide #)
The S curve of excitement
• The flipped S-curve of audience excitement vs. time line of
your presentation. –
• First 1/3: content that causes maximum excitement.
• Middle 1/3: Excitement stay a constant low. But that is ok.
• Last 1/3: Get everyone with you agaian. The ending should
pick up(results/future directions).
• In essence, the audience is really listening to you only at the
beginning (and bit at the end) unless you engage them in an
Motivate the context or application
Why is what you are doing important? Why
should people care? This could be audience
Overview diagram of the project should be at the
beginning and not at the end.
Ok to have an overview slide after setting up the
READ your Slides !
• Yes, read your slides ..
– Do opposite of what people have been telling you
• We live in a globalized world
– Not all are native English speakers
• Try to use same words while talking
– Spoken words, pictures, and text on the slide should
all be in sync (and in same order) and say the same
thing. They should all also stand independently of the
rest of the slides.
– Important when you are publishing your ppt online
Staying on the message
• Conveying key ideas with figures/diagrams/images is
• Repeat the key point again and again.
– Roughly follow the title->question->explanation-
>conclusion flow in each subsection.
• Talk != paper
– Give only limited information about the work. Motivate
listener to go read your paper for the details. Only present
what most people would understand.
• You can ignore 2nd and 3rd order details
– Just give a flavor of the complexity and your conclusions
The rule of 1/3rds
• 1/3 of your talk should be
understood by everyone
(intro, motivation, results, future
• 1/3 of your ppt should be
understood by people in your field
• 1/3 of your ppt should maybe
understood by just a few people in
the room. For this part you can
include figures, equations. Just
having them is enough, don't try to
• Watching talk videos online
– previous Siggraph presentations
– Avoid TED style for your technical presentation
• Unless you want to rewind the story all the way to your childhood
and how what you are doing is directly shaped by your childhood
• Use white board
– Great if you are giving tutorial style presentation
– Saves time on making nice looking slides
• During Practice Talks
– Add Slide number to each slide
• People can give you comment for each slide
• Don’t include slide num on your final version
– Ask a friend to take notes
• Timing and suggestions/questions on each slide
• Get a wireless remote + laser pointer
• Avoid ‘rehearse’ time mode
– Clicking a button during presentation is ok
– Wireless remote makes it even easier
Blank slides force people to focus on the
speaker. You can hit 'B' in Microsoft power
point to make the screen go blank. ‘B’ again to
show your presentation.
If you are digressing from the slide, audience
may get confused by what is on your slide.
• Have a photo/figure/sketch
on every slide
• The image can be unrelated
• If you run out of ideas for a
photo on each slide, just
search for the keyword
online (here I searched
• Never end with a ‘Thank you’ slide !
– This is the slide that will be up for a long time during Q&A
– Last slide should be
• Summary of your talk
• Website for further info
• State problem. State conclusion. Contact info. Nice pictures
– Don’t end with Acknowledgement slide
• Appreciated but not useful to most of your audience
• Ack slide can be one before ‘Summary’
– Don’t show a video during Q&A
• You cannt squeeze out the time
– How to encourage questions in Q&A
• This slides should have take home points and conclusions
• State some open questions at the end of the last slide.
Thank you Slide
• Never end with a ‘Thank you’ slide !
• Last slide should be
– Summary of your talk
– website for further info
‘After’ the last slide
• Appendix slides
– Keep them ready in same ppt after your
– Explanation for possible questions in Q&A
– Videos etc.
– If you are posting slides online, Appendix slides
can have more details
Tips from Ted Adelson
• Have a good last sentence; say "thank you" and not "I will
take questions". This gives the audience a chance to clap
without feeling awkward. And the host a chance to take
• Most of the audience is interested in question, "what is in it
for me?". Know your audience and try to answer their
question. Also, if the audience is diverse, talk about a
variety of things.
• Don't assume that the audience is alert and listening to
everything you say. It is okay to repeat important stuff.
• Look at "bad talks" to learn how not to give one. A good
talk is nothing but a not-bad talk. You do not have to do