Scientific Presentations
The Assertion-Evidence Approach

Exercise: Delivering with Slides
Guiding your audience through the scenes

This exercise calls on you to deliver a number of slides from a team presentation to the rest of the class. The purpose of the exercise is to give you practice at engaging an audience when you project slides. As my colleague Melissa Marshall says, the best presenters in engineering and science are tour guides, leading their audiences through the visual evidence. For an excellent professional example, see the TED talk by Cheryl Hayashi. In this exercise, your instructor will assign you specific slides to present from the presentation in Step 2. Before the presentation, you should learn the content of those slides and practice presenting the slides so that you can engage the audience without any notes (Step 3).

Step 1. Know the expectations of a scientific talk.
In a scientific presentation, you are expected to own the information. For that reason, the best scientific presenters do not read from note cards or bulleted lists on slides. Rather, the best speakers face the audience and tell the story of the work. Because these presenters own the ideas, they can fashion sentences on the spot to convey those ideas. In addition, these presenters have crafted a structure for those ideas and have practiced the talk multiple times before going on stage.

Step 2. Download slides and learn your section.
Download the presentation slides on the right and learn the content of the slides that have been assigned to you. Information about each slide is given in the notes page of the slide. To access a notes page, select Notes Page under View.

Step 3. Practice your section.
Practice your section of the talk so that you can deliver it without notes. The best presenters of science and engineering act as tour guides, leading their audiences through the scenes. This style is not memorization, because you fashion the sentences on the spot. Nor is this style speaking off the cuff (also called impromptu), because the talk is structured ahead of time and you have practiced. At the end of your portion, be sure to make a transition to the next speaker.

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