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Even if you have previously created a talk for another venue, you may have to make a new one, particularly if you have done more work in the meanwhile. The goal of a talk you give to your research group is to get feedback to help you improve your research and your understanding of it, so you should plan for a very interactive style, with lots of questions throughout. In a conference talk , questions during the talk are extremely unlikely, and you have much less time; your chief goal is to get people to read the paper or ask questions afterward.

In a seminar or invited talk at a university, you want to encourage questions, you have more time, and you should plan to give more of the big picture. The goal of a talk is similar to the goal of a technical paper , so you should also read and follow my advice about writing a technical paper. In either case, you have done some research, and you need to convince the audience of 3 things: the problem is worthwhile it is a real problem, and a solution would be useful , the problem it is hard not already solved, and there are not other ways to achieve equally good results , and that you have solved it.

If any of these three pieces is missing, your talk is much less likely to be a success. So be sure to provide motivation for your work, provide background about the problem, and supply sufficient technical details and experimental results. If you try to say too much a tempting mistake , then your main points won't strike home and you will have wasted everyone's time.

In particular, do not try to include all the details from a technical paper that describes your work; different levels of detail and a different presentation style are appropriate for each.

A good way to determine what your talk should say is to explain your ideas verbally to someone who does not already understand them. Do this before you have tried to create slides you may use a blank whiteboard, but that often is not necessary.

You may need to do this a few times before you find the most effective way to present your material. Notice what points you made and in what order, and organize the talk around that.

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Slides should not be a crutch that constrains you talk, but they should support the talk you want to give. Do not try to fit too much material in a talk.

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About one slide per minute is a good pace if lots of your slides are animations that take only moments to present, you can have more slides. Remember what your key points are, and focus on those. Don't present more information than your audience can grasp; for example, often intuitions and an explanation of the approach are more valuable than the gory details of a proof. If you try to fit the entire technical content of a paper into a talk, you will rush, with the result that the audience may come away understanding nothing.

It's better to think of the talk as an advertisement for the paper that gives the key ideas, intuitions, and results, and that makes the audience eager to read your paper or to talk with you to learn more. That does not mean holding back important details — merely omitting less important ones.

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You may also find yourself omitting entire portions of the research that do not directly contribute to the main point you are trying to make in your talk. Just as there should be no extra slides, there should be no missing slides. As a rule, you shouldn't speak for more than a minute or so without having new information appear. If you have an important point to make, then have a slide to support it.

Very few people can mesmerize an audience on a technical topic, and leave the audience with a deep understanding of the key points, without any visual props. Unfortunately, you are probably not one of them, at least not yet. As a particularly egregious example, do not discuss a user interface without presenting a picture of it — perhaps multiple ones. As another example, you should not dwell on the title slide for very long, but should present a picture relevant to the problem you are solving, to make the motivation for your work concrete.

Slide titles. Use descriptive slide titles. Do not use the same title on multiple slides except perhaps when the slides constitute an animation or build. Choose a descriptive title that helps the audience to appreciate what the specific contribution of this slide is. If you can't figure that out, it suggests that you have not done a good job of understanding and organizing your own material. Start your talk with motivation and examples — and have lots of motivation and examples throughout. For the very beginning of your talk, you need to convince the audience that this talk is worth paying attention to: it is solving an important and comprehensible problem.

Your first slide should be an example of the problem you are solving, or some other motivation. Outline slides. Never start your talk with an outline slide. That's boring, and it's too early for the audience to understand the talk structure yet. Outline slides can be useful, especially in a talk that runs longer than 30 minutes, because they helps the audience to regain its bearings and to keep in mind your argument structure. The last slide should be a contributions or conclusions slide, reminding the audience of the take-home message of the talk.

And, leave your contributions slide up after you finish the talk while you are answering questions. One way to think about this rule is: What do you want to be the last thing that the audience sees or that it sees while you field questions? A good way to check this is to quickly transition back and forth between the two slides several times. If you see any jitter, then correct the slide layout to remove it. You may need to leave extra space on an early slide to accommodate text or figures to be inserted later; even though that space may look a little unnatural, it is better than the alternative.

If there is any jitter, the audience will know that something is different, but will be uneasy about exactly what has changed the human eye is good at detecting the change but only good at localizing changes when those changes are small and the changes are smooth. You want the audience to have confidence that most parts of the slide have not changed, and the only effective way to do that is not to change those parts whatsoever.

You should also consider emphasizing say, with color or highlighting what has been added on each slide. Keep slides uncluttered. Don't put too much text or other material on a slide. When a new slide goes up, the audience will turn its attention to comprehending that slide. If the audience has to read a lot of text, they will tune you out, probably missing something important.

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This is one reason the diagrams must be simple and clear, and the text must be telegraphic. As a rule of thumb, 3 lines of text for a bullet point is always too much, and 2 full lines is usually too much. Shorten the text, or break it into pieces say, subbullet points so that the audience can skim it without having to ignore you for too long. Will it offer wide and appropriately targeted dissemination?

Will the research presentations be freely accessible online? Will they be indexed in the key databases used for discovering research in the field?

How to Prepare for a Paper Presentation at an Academic Conference

These and other questions are worth answering by doing a little research and asking the organisers for specific information about how they plan to publish the research presentations offered at the conference. Opting out of the conference proceedings may not be possible after your presentation is given, so it is best to learn everything you need to know to make an informed decision before you agree to participate. Independent Edited Collections An alternative to conference proceedings as an answer to the question of how to publish research presentations is the edited collection of research essays or papers that focus on a particular topic, theme or research problem.

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Such a collection may be very similar to the conference proceedings discussed above, particularly if the collection is produced by the conference organisers with the goal being to publish a significant selection of the research presentations from the conference. On the other hand, a collection appropriate for publishing a conference presentation might have very little or nothing at all to do with the conference itself.

A research presentation might, for instance, be published in a collection dedicated to a topic or theme similar to that of the conference but containing papers from various sources, not just the conference. This sort of publishing opportunity must usually be sought, found and arranged by the author of a research presentation, and it is necessary to inform the editors of the collection about the initial conference or symposium presentation as well as any informal or formal publications of the abstract or the entire presentation that have already taken place.

While an abstract published in a volume of conference proceedings is rarely problematic for future publishing options, some collection editors will not accept research presentations that have been published elsewhere or previously disseminated in any other way, even if the version submitted for publication differs significantly from the original presentation and other versions. The guidelines or author instructions provided by the editors of the collection must be consulted and observed with precision as the presentation is transformed into a publishable chapter, and the editors will generally act as peer reviewers of the research and writing, so be prepared for a round of feedback and revisions.


Finally, the questions about scholarly reputation, editorial standards, dissemination practices, discoverability and accessibility that I suggested should be asked about conference proceedings should also be applied to both the editors of the monograph and the press that will be publishing the book. Scholarly journals exist, after all, to publish new and valuable research, so they are the perfect venue for innovative and groundbreaking work in progress or just completed.

This focus on novelty means that it is absolutely essential when submitting a manuscript to an academic or scientific journal to disclose the dissemination history of the paper, so the original presentation at the conference should always be mentioned in the cover letter sent with the journal submission. If an abstract or the entire presentation has appeared in conference proceedings, make this clear to the editor and explain with clarity and precision exactly what about the content of the presentation has been changed for journal publication. Most journals will not be interested in a manuscript that has already been published in a very similar form and is readily available to readers online, but acquisitions editors are well aware that conference presentations often contain research in progress and some will be keen to publish the finished version.

Submitting a research presentation to an academic or scientific journal for consideration means observing the same formal processes you would were you submitting any other kind of research manuscript for journal publication. Be sure to read the guidelines and instructions for authors carefully and follow them with precision and consistency to produce an error-free research paper that is structured, formatted and submitted exactly as the journal would have it.

Pay special attention to the required style for in-text citations and the final list of references, and to limitations or restrictions such as a maximum length for the paper or any of its individual sections, or a maximum number of references that can be cited and discussed. Has the journal or any of its authors been accused of scholarly misconduct?