Learn from an experimental physicist

Mar 11, 2015 learning presentation slide speech phys-332

  • be loud, better have soothing voice
  • avoid swaying back and forth too much, or playing with hands
  • dress properly, shave in advance or have attractive beard
  • make frequent eye contact with the audience
  • avoid mentioning too much technical details
  • avoid reading slides
  • don’t put too much stuff in one slide
  • use tables, figures instead of text to illustrate ideas whenever possible
  • keep good pace, don’t be too fast or too slow
  • choose a good theme for slides
  • introduce context
  • organize contents well
  • avoid small text
  • do something different from other presenters
  • be fluent

Most good physicists are actually good at presenting their scientific works, otherwise they would not have survived in the field. I required my students in PHYS-332, Experimental Modern Physics, to give a 10-minute presentation on one of the experiments they did as their middle term examination as I believed that this was a quite useful training for their career development. I also asked the students to comment on each other’s presentation, knowing that it was much easier for them to accept their peers’ opinions other than those from an instructor. They were asked to write down what they liked most and hated most in a presentation anonymously. I gathered and read all the comments right after each presentation. What I found interesting was that the good and bad aspects of a presentation were usually pointed out repeatedly from different people. It became quite clear what needed to be improved after all comments were read.

According to their comments, the students believed that the practices listed at the beginning would help make a good scientific presentation. I was glad that they figured out essential things by themselves and had a good sense of humor.

About

Blogs on physics research and educational activities of Jing LIU, an assistant professor in physics at the University of South Dakota. He is an experimental physicist developing novel particle detectors for astroparticle physics and civil use.