Preparing presentations

Presenting your work and communicating it to others is an important part of scientific research. Below is a list of what I think is useful advice when preparing a presentation. Of course, in time you will develop your own style so these are just meant to be suggestions if you are new to giving talks :
  1. Choose a large enough font size.
  2. Aim to make your talk understood by most of the audience. This means that you should keep it reasonably simple. If you have a general audience, for instance, it doesn't make sense to go into technical details that only interest the specialists.
  3. Do not put too many words and equations on your slides. Most people have a hard time reading through the slides and listening to the speaker at the same time.
  4. Simplify your equations as much as possible and make sure to define (both in words and writing) all of the variables involved. Spend time describing the equation.
  5. Visual aids such as figures and animations help understand the material better than just words. However, don't crowd your talk with too many.
  6. After preparing your talk, take time to practice it thoroughly. You don't need to memorize every word but it helps your talk go more smoothly if you know roughly what to say for every slide ahead of time.
  7. Train yourself to speak up and to speak clearly. This is even more important if you are giving the talk in a language that is not your own.
  8. While presenting, go through all of the material that is written on your slides. Things that are left out are sources of distraction for the audience. Overlays (items that appear one at a time on the slides) might be helpful in that respect, but again do not overdo.
  9. Face the audience while you are speaking.
  10. Obey time constraints and leave time for questions.
Using LATEX to prepare presentations

You should use whichever software you are comfortable with while you are preparing presentations. The principle advantage of using Latex for presentations, however, is the ease of embedding formulas and tables (you should keep in mind, though, that too many of those spoil the flow of the presentation). You do, of course, lose some of the advantages of PowerPoint such as the flexibility to move around objects, the ease of embedding animations and the convenience of not having to compile every time you change something. However there are various decent packages that allow you to use Latex in writing presentations without too much pain. Here are a few of them (feel free to copy and modify the two examples I have provided):