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031: Making PowerPoint Presentations That Don’t Suck

Great science speaks for itself, right?

So the next time you need to give a lab meeting or seminar, just drop a couple of figures into the prettiest PowerPoint template you can find.

Make sure to take detailed bulleted notes so you won’t forget anything!

And if you’re feeling cheeky, add one of those cool boomerang animations with a star wipe to get the audience’s attention on slide 28.  People love that!


It burns my eyes!

If you didn’t catch on, everything in that last paragraph is terrible advice.  Science doesn’t speak for itself, and every aspect of the PowerPoint described above should make you cringe like fingernails on a chalk board.

The truth is, your important science isn’t worth much until you share it with the world, and one of the best ways to do that is to explain it to other scientists live and in person.

Presentations are your chance to infect others with enthusiasm for your topic, to attract collaborators, and to impress hiring committees.  Why not take a few minutes to make your science sing?

This week on the show, Daniel shares some specific tips for making your presentations better than the rest.

You’ll learn how a pencil and paper can save you hours at the computer and hear some specific advice on how to show immunofluorescence and complex diagrams.  We’ll also share some advanced tricks to make slide transitions and animations a part of your message, rather than a distraction.

But above all, remember the mantra: “Guns don’t kill people. Bullets kill people!”


Handy Handout

Next time you put together a PowerPoint of your own, try out this handy checklist to remember the do’s and don’ts of good design.  It also has some less-common shortcuts that will help you finish in record time!


PowerPoints that Don’t Suck Checklist


And if you’re looking to take your slides to the next level, check out slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations by Nancy Duarte from your university library, or buy a copy for your shelf.  You’ll refer to it again and again.

slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations


IPA Latte

Also in this show, Josh explains how typing more slowly can improve your writing, and we get the jitters from a growler of  Debut Coffee IPA from Starr Hill Brewery in Crozet, Virginia.  It’s just a matter of time before you can order an “Eye-Opener-and-Closer” at your local coffee shop!

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