Guide to a successful presentation
Standard Technical Support
Each room will include:
- HD projector, 16:9 (widescreen) slides recommended (4:3 OK)
- VGA connection
- 1/8” audio input to room speakers
- Podium microphone
Organizing Your Content
DON’T give a presentation that will be comprehensible and interesting only to people who work in the same area as you. Please be aware that CHI is a multidisciplinary conference, with researchers and practitioners in attendance.
DO ensure that even people who have little familiarity with your sub-area of HCI can understand at least the main points:
- what questions you addressed
- why those questions are important
- what methods you used
- what your main results were
- why those results are interesting
In fact, even the experts in your area don’t need to understand more than these points; for the rest, they can read the paper.
DON’T subject your audience to an “ordeal by bulleted list.” Bulleted lists – especially those with large amounts of text – should be used only in exceptional cases. They are generally boring, abstract, unconvincing, and hard to read while the speaker is talking.
DO present a series of “exhibits”: images, videos, system demos, diagrams, graphs, or tables. You can explain and elaborate on these exhibits while people are looking at them. In general, you don’t need to write what you say on the slides.
Anyone who wants to see the points you made in black and white can read your paper. Carefully preparing an exhibit can take at least 10 times as long as dashing off a bulleted list, but your audience deserves nothing less.
DON’T use full sentences on your slides, or write out your entire talk on your slides.
DO use text sparingly: Keep your points in short, concise, outline form. This will inform the viewer about the topic, and will also help you remember your key points for discussion.
Polishing the Details
DON’T put material on a slide that only the people in the front rows can read. Font sizes smaller than 28pt will likely be unreadable.
DO pay special attention to types of material that often turn out to be illegible: screen shots and complex graphics. If an exhibit like this can’t be shown legibly as a whole, find a way to zoom in on individual parts of it as they are discussed.
DON’T clutter each slide with distracting logos and superfluous information such as the title of the talk or the name and date of the conference.
DO present only material that helps you to convey your points effectively. If you must include your institution’s logo on each slide, make sure that it is not the most conspicuous and interesting element on any slide.
Giving the Presentation
DON’T risk fumbling desperately with the laptop at the beginning of your talk.
DO arrive 20 minutes before your session to test the compatibility of your laptop with the projector.
If you bring your presentation on a USB drive to present on someone else’s laptop, do everything possible to maximize its portability, and test the presentation at the earliest opportunity, leaving plenty of time to fix any problems (e.g., replacing missing fonts).
DON’T talk in such a way that only a fraction of the listeners can understand you.
DO keep in mind the people in the back row who are not especially experienced in listening to English-language presentations. Native speakers of English need to avoid speaking too fast or colloquially; non-native speakers should enunciate clearly so that any foreign accent does not impair comprehension.
DO use your microphone, even if there are not many attendees in your session. Session rooms are still enormous, and you will be on a stage. If the room is crowded, your talk may appear on a screen outside the room, and the only way viewers will hear you is through your microphone. Remember that the use of a microphone does not in itself guarantee that people in the back can hear you easily: speak up in a lively manner!
DON’T prepare a talk that consumes every available minute and leaves no time for questions.
DO finish early enough to leave time for questions. Papers have a 20-minute slot, you should aim for your talk to be done in 15 minutes; notes have a 10-minute slot, you should aim for your talk to be done in 8 minutes.
DO rehearse your presentation before attending CHI, and cut content if you’re cutting it close.
DON’T rush to cover your remaining content if you are running out of time.
DO stop at the end of the allotted time, even if you have content left. No matter how hard you worked on your last few slides, the audience would rather have time for discussion, and the conference needs to keep on schedule. Often presenters rush through their last few slides just for the sake of finishing, and it is almost never the case that useful information is conveyed during those slides. If you’re behind, just say “I’ll stop here and take questions”.
Any speaker who exceeds the allotted time will be interrupted mercilessly by the Session Chair.
DON’T end your presentation with a slide that contains only uninformative text like “Any questions?”
DO conclude with a slide that helps the audience remember your talk the way you want them to remember it. This is typically achieved by summarizing your main contributions; this is a rare case where a bulleted list may be appropriate. This slide will help people to think of important questions to ask, and will help them remember the key points of your talk, so they can go tell their colleagues how great it was.
DON’T use a question from the audience as a springboard to leap into the five minutes of your talk that you had to leave out because of the time limit.
DO answer each question directly and concisely, without digressing into related topics. Give others a chance to ask their questions as well.