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Paper: Advice on Giving a Scientific Talk
Volume: 349, Astrophysics of Variable Stars
Page: 435
Authors: Kurtz, D.
Abstract: What makes one speaker exciting and another boring? You have been to good talks and you have sat through far too many poor ones, so what makes the difference? It doesn't really matter whether it is a scientific talk, a public talk or a classroom lecture: Your prime concern is to think about the audience. You are talking to them. You are performing. Look at them; talk to them; think about what they are hearing and seeing. They very much want you to give a good talk – that is why they have chosen to be your audience. But at the start of your talk they are worried you might not, so they are nervous. Your first job is to relax them and get their trust that you are going to do a good job. Then you will relax and you will be off to a great start. Of course your content matters; if you have a great discovery, they will forgive you anything. But it is still better to make a good presentation. I give some advice here on what to do, and what not to do, when giving any kind of talk, but with emphasis on short scientific talks presented at conferences. You should be a little nervous at the start of a talk - that is caused by your concern to do a good job. With a good start your talk will flow, you will then present your discoveries, and with a good ending your audience will applaud appreciatively and want to ask you questions. You will have enjoyed performing and want to do it again. Speaking can be fun for you, and rewarding for your audiences.
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