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Panel discussion presented by Tracy Voltz at the 2010 NSF ADVANCE Workshop: Negotiating the Ideal Faculty Position, A Workshop for Underrepresented PhDs and Postdocs in Science, Engineering and Psychology September 19-21, 2010

High impact presenters

  • Size up the situation
  • Organize an argument
  • Convey confidence
  • Integrate visuals
  • Handle questions
a woman giving a presentation

Analyze audience

  • Who is your audience?
    • Why are they interested?
    • How much do they know?
    • What criteria do they use to make decisions?
    • How will they benefit?
    • What are their concerns?

Two men standing at a board discussing.

Tailor message to audience

From: Barrett, Deborah (2007). Leadership Communication .
  • Make it interesting
  • Provide background
  • Define terms
  • Distinguish between fact and opinion
  • Use examples, analogies, visuals
  • State how and why
  • Present limited background info
  • Use language of discipline
  • State assumptions and conclusions
  • Cite references

a large audience

Mixed audience strategy

  • Define key terms
  • Signal section headings
  • Support points with specific examples
  • Use analogies
  • Mention in-depth points periodically
  • Reiterate your main points as you proceed
  • Avoid jargon
  • End with a general summary

Academic job talk

  1. What problem are you investigating?
  2. Why is it important?
  3. How does your work fit into the context of your field?
  4. What’s your approach?
  5. What did you find that was significant?
  6. What are the implications of your findings?
  7. How is your work novel?

Typical but difficult

  • Chronological narratives
  • Inductive organization
 a cartoon with the captions 'as you can see in slide 397' 'gaaaaaah' 'powerpoint poisoning.

Inductive example

a diagram of a slide presentation showing that the thesis has been introduce too late.

Deductive example

a diagram of a slide presentation showing that the thesis has been introduced early in the talk.

The challenge

a chart diagramming audience attention

Start strong


  • Motivate interest
  • State key point(s)
  • Preview topics
  • Establish credibility
  • Memorize opening


  • No apologies
  • No reintroduction
  • No “Today I’m gonna talk about . . . ”
Hans Rosling
Hans Rosling, TED conference 2006 (External Link)

Wolfe’s strong start

a picture of a TED talk
(External Link)

Directional hypercomplex wavelets for multi-dimensional signal anlysis and processing

three hypercomplex wavelets
Candidate’s name

Directional hypercomplex wavelets for multi-dimensional signal analysis and processing

a diagram of a wavelet

Candidate’s name

Electrical and Computer Engineering

Sept. 20, 2010


  • Introduction
  • Methods and applications
  • Results
  • Conclusions


  • Diagnosis of air quality priorities
  • Primary and secondary pollutants
  • High-order direct sensitivity analysis: Methods and applications
  • Uncertainty analysis
  • Optimization
  • Integrated air quality management: Experiences in Georgia
    • Challenges, priorities, planning
  • Vision for future research


  • Diagnosis of air quality priorities
  • High-order direct sensitivity analysis: Methods and applications
  • Integrated air quality management: Experiences in Georgia
  • Vision for future research

End strong

people clapping


  • Memorize
  • Send cue
  • Restate&summarize
  • Spell out implications


  • No “That’s it.”
  • No exaggerating
  • No ?s slide


clipart of a humanoid character sitting in a question mark.


  • The network is capable of identifying the behavior of the family curve.
  • The amplitude and frequency values obtained with the ANN are close to those obtained by means of the 2-DOF model.
  • The accuracy in the results obtained can be improved if a greater number of samples is used.
  • Other combination of network parameters could allow getting better results.
  • The reduction in computation time is drastically reduced when using the ANN.
  • Identifies behavior of the family curve
  • Closely approximates amplitude and frequency of 2-DOF model
  • Drastically reduces computation time


  • Create coherence
  • Make intuitive connections explicit
  • Weak verbal cues
    • “And another thing”
    • “So”
    • “Next”
  • Strong verbal cues
    • Sequence
      • “First”
    • Contrast
      • “However”
      • “On the other hand”
    • Causality
      • “Therefore”
      • “Consequently

Sample transitions

a picture of a transition from a mac slide to a windows slide.
  1. “So let’s jump into parts I thought were interesting.”
  2. “Next I’m gonna talk about Microsoft.
  3. “In contrast to Apple’s focus on ordinary consumers, Microsoft targets business users.”

Presenting data

  • Relevant results that support key points
  • BIG picture little picture
  • 4-step explanation:
    • Question
    • Describe
    • Report result
    • Interpret result
a chart

Leadership presence

a picture of Barack Obama
(External Link)
  • Enter with authority
  • Focus your energy
  • Pause before starting
  • Establish eye contact
  • Limit movement
  • Speak confidently

Convey confidence

a man and a suit
a woman giving a presentation
(External Link)

  • Stance
  • Gestures
  • Eye contact
  • Voice quality

Stance and posture

Bill Gates giving a presentation
(External Link)

 Steve Jobs giving a presentation
(External Link)

Stance and posture

  • Worst Practices
    • Block screen
    • Stomp feet
    • Cross feet
    • Rock, sway, pace
    • Slouch
    • Lean
  • Best Practices
    • Chin up
    • Feet under hips
    • Shoulders relaxed
    • Weight distributed
    • Knees slightly bent

stick figures demonstrating different postures

Gestures to avoid

  • Fidgeting
    • Fingers
    • Pen or laser pointer
    • Pockets
    • Hair
  • Hands on hips
  • Crossing arms
  • Gripping podium
  • Clasping hands
    • Fig leaf
    • Behind back
men standing giving a presentation
(External Link)

Effective gestures

a person pointing
Steve Jobs holding an iPod

Bill Gates gesturing
  • Power gestures
  • Concept gestures
  • Process gestures
  • Position
  • Scale

Practice gestures

  • “An atom consists of a dense, central nucleus surrounded by a cloud of electrons.
  • “A low pH indicates a high concentration of hydronium ions.”
  • “The particles must be dispersed evenly in the fluid.”
  • “It’s about the size of a quarter .”
  • That is unacceptable !

Eye contact

  • Worst practices
    • Stare at screen
    • Glance at floor or ceiling
    • Read slides or notes
  • Best practices
    • Direct
    • Sustained
    • Distributed

a man looking down while presenting
a woman presenting
(External Link)

Voice quality

  • Volume
  • Pacing
  • Inflection
  • Articulation
  • Fillers

a woman presenting

Handling questions

Google's founders presenting
(External Link)


an arrow showing the flow of a presentation.


the cover of Leadership Communication
Barrett, Deborah, Leadership Communication. McGraw-Hill, 2007.

logo for the Cain Project
Materials developed by Cain Project in Engineering and Professional Communication, www.cnx.org

cover of slide:ology
Duarte, Nancy. Slide:ology. O’Reilly, 2008.

Cover of Technically Speaking
D’Arcy, Jan. Technically Speaking. Columbus: Battelle Press, 1998.

Cover of How to Say it with your Voice
Jacobi, Jeffrey. How to Say It with Your Voice. Paramus: Prentice Hall, 2000.

the TED logo
Repository of interesting talks: Hans Rosling “The Best Stats You’ve Ever Seen” (External Link)

Image references

  • Eric Schmidt

(External Link)&imgrefurl=http://www.mediabistro.com/baynewser/google_stuffgoogle_ceo_defends_company_against_wall_street_journal_in_pages_of_wall_street_journal_144817.asp&usg=__3mt9PhrO_oWQ7ikSSioN2WzemCc=&h=334&w=500&sz=80&hl=en&start=16&um=1&tbnid=Uo8sDZW4wbUrjM:&tbnh=87&tbnw=130&prev=/images%3Fq%3Deric%2Bschmidt %26hl%3Den%26client%3Dfirefox-a%26rls%3Dorg.mozilla:en-US:official%26sa%3DN%26um%3D1

  • Steve Jobs

(External Link)

  • Bill Gates (Jeff J Mitchell / Getty Images)

(External Link)&imgrefurl=http:www.newsweek.comid142537&usg=__kZaLDBaXZY0ztGbJYA71P990hfE=&h=422&w=300&sz=20&hl=en&start=80&um=1&tbnid=vqtK6g2kFK_sSM:&tbnh=126&tbnw=90&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dbill%2Bgates%26ndsp%3D20%26hl%3Den%26client%3Dfirefox-a%26rls%3Dorg.mozilla:en-US:official%26sa%3DN%26start%3D60%26um%3D1

Questions & Answers

how can chip be made from sand
Eke Reply
is this allso about nanoscale material
are nano particles real
Missy Reply
Hello, if I study Physics teacher in bachelor, can I study Nanotechnology in master?
Lale Reply
no can't
where is the latest information on a no technology how can I find it
where we get a research paper on Nano chemistry....?
Maira Reply
nanopartical of organic/inorganic / physical chemistry , pdf / thesis / review
what are the products of Nano chemistry?
Maira Reply
There are lots of products of nano chemistry... Like nano coatings.....carbon fiber.. And lots of others..
Even nanotechnology is pretty much all about chemistry... Its the chemistry on quantum or atomic level
no nanotechnology is also a part of physics and maths it requires angle formulas and some pressure regarding concepts
Preparation and Applications of Nanomaterial for Drug Delivery
Hafiz Reply
Application of nanotechnology in medicine
has a lot of application modern world
what is variations in raman spectra for nanomaterials
Jyoti Reply
ya I also want to know the raman spectra
I only see partial conversation and what's the question here!
Crow Reply
what about nanotechnology for water purification
RAW Reply
please someone correct me if I'm wrong but I think one can use nanoparticles, specially silver nanoparticles for water treatment.
yes that's correct
I think
Nasa has use it in the 60's, copper as water purification in the moon travel.
nanocopper obvius
what is the stm
Brian Reply
is there industrial application of fullrenes. What is the method to prepare fullrene on large scale.?
industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
How we are making nano material?
what is a peer
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
What is STMs full form?
scanning tunneling microscope
how nano science is used for hydrophobicity
Do u think that Graphene and Fullrene fiber can be used to make Air Plane body structure the lightest and strongest. Rafiq
what is differents between GO and RGO?
what is simplest way to understand the applications of nano robots used to detect the cancer affected cell of human body.? How this robot is carried to required site of body cell.? what will be the carrier material and how can be detected that correct delivery of drug is done Rafiq
analytical skills graphene is prepared to kill any type viruses .
Any one who tell me about Preparation and application of Nanomaterial for drug Delivery
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
Researchers demonstrated that the hippocampus functions in memory processing by creating lesions in the hippocampi of rats, which resulted in ________.
Mapo Reply
The formulation of new memories is sometimes called ________, and the process of bringing up old memories is called ________.
Mapo Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, 2010 nsf advance workshop: negotiating the ideal faculty position. OpenStax CNX. Feb 11, 2011 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11275/1.4
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