How to give a great research talk by MSR

Lode recently blogged about a seminar by Microsoft Research on how to give a great research talk, starring John KrummPatrick BaudischRick Szeliski and Mary Czerwinski.

Some other resources I recommend are “How to give a good research talk” by Simon Peyton Jones, and the Presentation Zen blog. These should already provide you with the basics for giving a good (research) talk. Here is what I personally found useful in the Microsoft Research session:

  • Use animations sparingly: animations are only useful to illustrate a process in your system, or make something more clear to the audience. Don’t overdo it. In my opinion, I offended against this rule with my EIS 2007 presentation. Some animations were useful, but a lot of them were unnecessary. When I gave part of this presentation to a few other researchers some time after the conference, one of them commented that I should contact George Lucas about the effects and transitions ;-)
  • Use pictures for related work: Patrick argued that a lot of people remember pictures from papers they read, so using a visual representation of the related work is more useful than a list of references.
  • Try to demo the current status of your future work: Rick showed the future work demo of their photo tourism paper he gave during his talk at SIGGRAPH. This way you give the audience evidence that you’re actively improving upon your work.
  • Tactics to handle rude questions: Mary gave a few tips for dealing with rude questions such as repeating the question that was posed. This is always useful to indicate how you have understood it. Furthermore, it gives people in the audience a second chance if they did not understand the person who posed the question.
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All in all an interesting seminar, might be useful to organize something similar at our institute in the future. Thanks to Lode for sharing the link on his blog.

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