Guidelines for Presentations
Lecture vs Presentation Slides
Lecture slides often also serve as a script for learning at home. Therefore, they often contain technical content that may be difficult to grasp during the lecture. In a lecture, it is expected that participants revisit the material at home, solve exercises and try to understand some details on their own.
If you present a research topic in a seminar, at a workshop or at a conference, the situation is very different. In your presentation, you should focus on the high-level ideas and leave out technical details if they are difficult to understand. Participants that are interested in the details can talk to you later. This means, in particular, that you should also have a basic understanding of those parts of the paper that you do not present, so that you are able to answer questions. If you present a paper at a seminar, your fellow students should be able to understand the content from your presentation alone. In particular, if content from other courses is needed, you should briefly repeat it. The phrase "as we all know" is usually not a good idea. If you present your own work at a workshop or at a conference, you should keep the same things in mind because it will probably attract more people to your work.
As usual, your presentation should be roughly divided in introduction, main part and conclusions.
What you should make clear in the introduction of your presentation already are the following points:
- What is the problem that you are dealing with and why is it interesting?
- What are the main contributions of the work that you present?
- How does this work relate to previously existing research?
In the main part, you should pick interesting contributions of the paper and explain them in more detail. This can include particularly interesting algorithms, interesting theorems or interesting experiments. It will probably not be possible to cover every aspect of the paper within your time constraints, so you will have to make a reasonable choice. When explaining things, you should choose an abstraction level that allows understanding the main ideas. In particular, all definitions, theorems and algorithms that you present should be illustrated by examples and visual illustrations.
In your conclusions, you should briefly repeat the problem that you were interested in, how this work attacked this problem and how it goes beyond previous work. If you present a paper in a seminar, you should also give your personal view on the results. For example, why do you think that this approach is particularly interesting or what kind of problems do you see with this approach?
A classical rule of thumb for the number of slides is to divide the number of minutes of your presentation by 2 (2 minutes per slide). So 10-15 slides should be fine for a 25 minutes presentation. If your presentation is very dynamic, some more slides can be fine as well. However, if you have more than 30 slides for a 25 minutes presentation, there is probably something wrong.
Your slides should contain keywords rather than whole sentences and probably not more than 5 keywords per slide. Long definitions should be broken down into the important parts and should be presented in an enumeration environment to make it easier to read. Usually, if you can explain things by a picture, this is preferable to a textual description. However, if you present a formal paper, you should give basic definitions and be able to connect the basic formalism to your examples. You can put algorithms on the slides, but you should format them for easy reading and they should be illustrated by visual examples.
Reusing figures or examples from the literature is okay if you give a reference, but you should not just add screenshots from other papers or presentations on your slides. It should also be clear that you should not just copy slides that you found on the internet. All claims taken from the literature should be followed by a reference. "It is well known" and "it is easy to see" will not be accepted.
Remember that there should be time for discussion. If you have 30 minutes overall for your presentation, leave 5-10 minutes for questions and discussions. It is a good idea to have some optional slides that you can skip if there are many questions during your presentation. It is also a good idea to prepare 1 or 2 discussion questions for the case that no discussion evolves automatically. Controversial claims are often a good starting point (for example, this approach is better or worse than others because...).