I sat almost all day where I suppose to stay, the symposium F, Materials, Process, Integration and reliability in Advanced Interconnects of Micro- and Nanoelectronics (what a long name!). I thought I might be the only chemist in the room until I talked with the speaker before my presentation during the afternoon session and found out that she is also a chemist, physical chemistry though. My job today (at the time writing this post it is already yesterday, but you know what I mean) is to introduce the type of materials that I have been working on to the semiconductor industry. After my presentation, I was telling myself "hmm, probably it would be better if I did this or that or this", and then I got confused by myself, so I went to this tutorial session held in the evening titled "Mastering Science Presentations".
The speaker, Tim Miller, a consultant from Spoken Science, discussed some universal principles and some guidelines, or 1st approximation laws as he called it, particular for science presentations. Two things stood out. First is belly breathing, or gut breathing or ab breathing, whatever name you like to call it. It is almost the same as the kind of techniques used by Buddhists or Taiji or several other east Asian martial arts practitioners. The technique is simple, but powerful, especially in maintaining self-control and conquering stage-fright. The second is the use of black background instead of white background during a ppt slide, especially if you want to emphasize the message you want convey. The argument behind sounds intuitive: black in computer screen means nothing, whereas white on a piece of paper means nothing. There is also a practical reason. Having a black background will prevent the situation where the speaker drops shadow on the screen unintentionally. Hence This vs. That in the image of this post.
Other universal principles covered include a) know thy audience, b) tell a story, c) make eye-contact, and d) speak slowly. Other guidelines for science presentation particularly include a) an image worth a thousand words b) use call-off arrows and circles c) repeat the question the audience asks before answering.