• John
  • Felde
  • University of Maryland
  • USA

Latest Posts

  • USLHC
  • USLHC
  • USA

  • James
  • Doherty
  • Open University
  • United Kingdom

Latest Posts

  • Andrea
  • Signori
  • Nikhef
  • Netherlands

Latest Posts

  • CERN
  • Geneva
  • Switzerland

Latest Posts

  • Aidan
  • Randle-Conde
  • Université Libre de Bruxelles
  • Belgium

Latest Posts

  • TRIUMF
  • Vancouver, BC
  • Canada

Latest Posts

  • Laura
  • Gladstone
  • MIT
  • USA

Latest Posts

  • Steven
  • Goldfarb
  • University of Michigan

Latest Posts

  • Fermilab
  • Batavia, IL
  • USA

Latest Posts

  • Seth
  • Zenz
  • Imperial College London
  • UK

Latest Posts

  • Nhan
  • Tran
  • Fermilab
  • USA

Latest Posts

  • Alex
  • Millar
  • University of Melbourne
  • Australia

Latest Posts

  • Ken
  • Bloom
  • USLHC
  • USA

Latest Posts

Nicole Ackerman | SLAC | USA

View Blog | Read Bio

The Physics Talk

I’m in the process of preparing a talk for an upcoming conference. More specifically, I’m preparing a physics talk. I always battle to find the compromise between giving a good talk and creating a good physics presentation, which seem to be different.

I did competitive speaking in high school (with no visual aids!) so I’m never too nervous about giving a talk. More honestly, I am used to my knees shaking. In general, a key to a good talk is to use the slides as visual aids to emphasize particular content. There shouldn’t be too much info presented on a single slide, and as few words as possible. The first few presentations I gave involving physics could obey these rules – they were oral reports for an undergraduate lab and a presentation for parents. All of the feedback I received from professors and communications experts were always to get rid of the words and simplify the slides.

Now I’m in the world of “real” physics talks and the rules have changed, for relatively good reasons. Slides do not just serve as visual aids, but as a resource to people who missed the talk or who want to refresh their memory later. In this case the chart or picture needs to be accompanied with analysis or some sort of summary of what was said. While the warning against words on a slide was that the audience would read the slides instead of listening to the presenting, now this has become a blessing. I’ve seen talks where I can’t understand the presenter and I’m thankful I can get all of the content out of the presentation.

One example: if I show a diagram of the detector on a slide, the “better” presentation style would to have it large, with few words. Perhaps I could have a few slides with the same picture and a different component highlighted on each one. The “physics way” is to have each component labeled with a small description. I’m still erring on the side of the minimalist talk – I’m just giving a talk in a parallel session that others will not want to read later.

Share