Charisma, Content Make For Effective Scientific Presentations

KUDOS AT ACS: Spicing up a presentation on polymer architecture earned rave reviews for Cornell grad student Portia Yarborough. A few hours before her scheduled talk at the American Chemical Society's meeting this fall in Las Vegas, Portia Yarborough rehearsed her presentation for a friend. A chemistry graduate student at Cornell University, Yarborough wanted her talk to be perfect. Practicing, she laid out the slides, spoke slowly, and shared her research results. Her friend's comment: "Borin

Kathryn Brown
Oct 12, 1997


KUDOS AT ACS: Spicing up a presentation on polymer architecture earned rave reviews for Cornell grad student Portia Yarborough.
A few hours before her scheduled talk at the American Chemical Society's meeting this fall in Las Vegas, Portia Yarborough rehearsed her presentation for a friend. A chemistry graduate student at Cornell University, Yarborough wanted her talk to be perfect. Practicing, she laid out the slides, spoke slowly, and shared her research results.

Her friend's comment: "Boring."

What Yarborough had forgotten was enthusiasm. It's a common mistake, communications specialists say. In the worst cases, researchers simply read from transparencies, piling monotone fact upon fact. Another frequent gaffe is information overload. Cramming too much material into a talk, scientists either saunter past the time limit or speak too quickly. Jargon, too, foils many a presentation. And cluttered visuals-such as posters or transparencies-bury main messages in a sea of prose.


LEARNED STYLE: "Everyone...

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