Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Ending It

What do you do when you are giving a talk at a conference and you have a lot more to say but not enough time to say it all as you had hoped?:

Behavior 1a. Ignore the almost-out-of-time signal and even the totally-out-of-time signal and plow on to the very end as if there is enough time to go through every slide, including a text-rich conclusions slide (or two!), which for some reason has to be read, word-for-word, all the way through.

Behavior 1b. Acknowledge the almost-out-of-time signal but continue to the very end anyway, not skipping any slides, not even the conclusions slides. This type of person apparently speeds up, and perhaps occasionally interjects "I know I'm out of time, but..", and then they keep going. The fact that they are out of time does not motivate them to skip a slide, not even the conclusions.

Behavior 2. Don't skip any of the research info slides, but skip reading the conclusions slide(s). May show the conclusions slide, but say "I'm out of time, so I'll just stop here."

Behavior 3. Skip some or all of the remaining research slides, and go right to the conclusions slide(s) and read them aloud. (opposite strategy of Behavior 2)

Behavior 4. When warned of approaching the time limit, say "I'm just about out of time, so I'll stop right there", thereby possibly leaving time for questions and discussion.

Note that I am only considering the types of people who reach the time limit when giving a talk. Some people finish on time, and this post is not about them.

It is my considered but perhaps unreasonable opinion that it is the rare talk of 10-15 minutes duration that needs detailed text-filled conclusions slides. I typically find these boring and a waste of talk-time. Conclusions slides can be useful if the talk topic was very complex (owing to the topic or the lack of skill of the presenter) or if the presenter is not entirely comfortable speaking English, or whatever the primary conference language is. In those cases, a conclusions slide or two can be helpful for summarizing what was just presented. If, however, the text-filled conclusions slide(s) are just a summary of what the speaker said 2 minutes ago, it's a waste of time for a speaker to read them to the audience, particularly if there isn't time for this.

At the various conferences I have attended this year, I have seen all of these behaviors (and more? did I leave any out?). I always wonder what someone is thinking by going (way) over the allotted time, especially if they are given abundant warning, by automated signals and session leaders, that the time is almost up, and then up, and then more than up. There is one person I know who commonly talks for 20-30 minutes for a 12-15 minute talk, ignoring all of the increasingly urgent but apparently ineffectual pleas for him to stop. [If I were convening a session in which this person wanted to give a presentation, I would assign him a poster, not a talk.]

I am reasonably sure that it is rare for the audience to be thinking "Oh no! Time is up already?! I wish that person could on speaking for much much longer!"

For me, anyway, the main interest and appeal of conferences is not so much the details of what is presented in talks but getting a general sense for what is going on, having informal conversations with people I wouldn't otherwise interact with or even meet, introducing my students and postdocs to the wider Science World, and all that kind of thing.

It doesn't punch a hole in my conference experience if some speakers talk for a few extra minutes, but life would be a tiny bit better if fewer people did this, and especially if they don't read their text-filled conclusions slides, word-for-word, all the way through.

Question 1: Is it mostly the more senior people who go beyond the allotted time for a conference talk? I have seen people of all ages and talk-experience level go beyond their allotted time, but I think it is more common for more senior researchers. This may be in part because students and other early-career people actually practice their talks and therefore know how long their talks are likely to be, whereas we older people are more likely to wing it a bit more and/or to think that our every word is a precious pearl of wisdom.

Question 2: Are the professors who speak longer than the allotted time for a conference talk also the ones whose classes go beyond their scheduled time?


Notorious Ph.D. said...

In the Humanities, your junior/senior distinction is spot-on (with the exception of those poor first-timers who have received no mentoring whatsoever; for these, I blame their advisors). That's not to say that all senior people, or even the majority, fail to respect the time limit. But those who do are more likely to be those who ought to know better.

If I found myself in that position, I'd combine the third and fourth methods: "I see I'm almost out of time, so I'll skim the surface of my final two points, but I'd love to talk in more detail about them during the discussion period." Then do skim the surface and do the conclusion as planned.

Anonymous said...

I totally completely irrationally hate long texty conclusions slides. I fight against the urge to think that people who do this are somehow mentally deficient. I know they are not. I know some people make these boring slides because they think they are supposed to and maybe most people in the audience like the conclusions slides because that way they can sleep through the rest of the talk but focus in just for the last minute???? I also hate Talk Outlines. For a 12 minute talk? Waste of time! I may be extreme in this opinion.

GMP said...

I hate talk outlines with a passion, orders of magnitude more than the conclusion slide.

Female Science Professor said...

That's a tough call, but I guess I agree with GMP. Talk outlines = more hated than conclusions slide(s) for me. I focused on conclusions slides because they are more obviously a problem for a talk that is going over time, but of course the talk outline contributes to this as well.

Michael Albert said...

Absolutely agree with anonymous. I work in a field where 25 minutes is the minimum possible for a talk, and still have discarded introductory slides (though, I do talk for quite a while with the title slide up!)

In my field it's actually juniors who tend to go over time because some of them don't seem to realize that explaining proofs is just not possible/desirable in a conference talk.

What you didn't address is appropriate audience behaviour when a senior speaker does go over time, and the session chair is spineless enough not to cut him/her off. I, who think I have in general a reputation for "politeness" and "consideration", simply walk out (and return for the next talk if there is one). There is little more rude than to assume that your time is more valuable than the time of the 20, 50, 100 or whatever members of your audience.

Anonymous said...

I absolutely hate people going over time (options 1a and 1b). To me, this is a sign of pure arrogance and equates to showing the finger to the session convener, other speakers and the audience. When somebody goes over, I find myself getting more and more aggressive and from looking around me in such situations, I think I am not the only one. As to outlines, these are absolutely pointless for a short talk. A good conclusion slide should be very short and should never be read word for word. Long time reader, first time commenter, I guess these people really get to me...

Donnie Berkholz said...

I don't mind outlines if there's some useful information there. For example, "I'm going to talk about these three seemingly disparate topics ... and they all tie together into a single amazing thread." But Introduction, Point 1, Point 3, Point 3, Conclusions, not so much.

Pippin, the Gentle Pup said...

It drives me bananas when people are surprised that their time is almost up and they are only midway through their talk. To me, that is a most basic professional skill. In my field, relative seniority isn't a good predictor of who will do this, but the students of senior scholars who do it are more likely to do it as well.

I don't like reading any slides, but if I realize I've mistimed something, what I do depends on the topic--usually something close to 2 and 3 (though I don't read slides aloud ever).

I think the answer is likely yes to Q2.

Anonymous said...

Outlines are indeed the worst, especially when they keep showing up throughout the talk to let us all know where in the outline we are.

A major piece of advice my postdoc advisor gave me when I went to faculty job interviews was, "They're going to judge how you'll be as a professor from your talk. Finish on time. It's important."

I do wish that conference moderators were better about cutting people off. I ask speakers when I moderate to give me a question regarding a conclusion they might not be able to get to if cut off while speaking. But we have this problem in our department seminar too -- a class comes in right afterwards and there is never time for questions from the speakers because they always run over.

Anonymous said...

Any tool that is used to clarify the subject matter of the talk is fine with me - this is especially important if I'm attending a talk that is outside my field. It is useless to try and squeeze the rest of the slides into an allotted time period. Nobody will get it anyway and generally no one will have the patience, especially during a conference.

EliRabett said...

Explain at the beginning what your talk is about, what the important elevator speech takeaway is and what you won't be able to talk about in the limited time, but would be glad to discuss at the poster session, etc.

At the end rinse and repeat.

A really good way of doing this at a conference is to have a (student) poster, and say, I'll also be there, and that is where the real details can be hashed at length for anyone interested.

EliRabett said...

Another way of doing it is that the first five minutes are for everyone, the second for your friends, and the third, only you understand

Anonymous said...

Wait wait, really? You guys hate outlines? And you hate going back to them throughout the talk?? Really???

I find talks that don't have this kind of structure tend to suck/meander, and most of the best talks I've seen have (barebones) outlines.

Usually it's just 3 bullet points, though. Maybe you all are talking specifically about very texty outline/conclusions slides??

The reason I think it is helpful (and what I've been told by my peers and literally everyone who has taught me about giving talks), is that it forces the speaker to pause and take a moment before moving onto the next topic. It also reminds people how bullet point 1 and bullet point 2 are linked, setting up the conclusions nicely.

As for talks going over I HATE THAT. I've actually walked out of the room once on someone who had talked 5 minutes past his stopping point. I've never done it myself though so I'm not sure what strategy I would use. Probably skip to the conclusions slide, simply because that's the easiest way to verbally tie together the research I didn't have the time to talk about with the stuff I did have time to address.

*NOTE none of my outlines or conclusions slides are texty, it's always just 3-4 bullet points with at most 5 words per point.

Anonymous said...

I don't like talk outlines that show the mechanics of the talk (e.g., background, methods, results, etc.), however, I *do* like "overview" slides that list the main conclusions at the beginning of the talk.

I am surprised at the visceral reactions here to the conclusions slide. I agree that it is stupid to read it, but I think it is critical to at least show it. 90% of the audience will not be experts on the topic, and so they need the main points to be reinforced.

"Tell them what you're gonna tell them, then tell them, then tell them what you told them." It works.

plam said...

Just last week I was a session chair and the speaker ran overtime by a couple (4-5) of minutes, despite my glares and standing up and walking towards the podium. His behaviour was closest to #3, but he didn't skip enough of the slides.

On another note, we force our undergrads to give a technical presentation, in which we require an outline slide. I tell them that I don't actually think outline slides are useful. However, we're telling them how to do a passable talk, not a good one, and that they will need to work harder to give good talks.

I typically do not include detailed outline slides on my own talks; for my most recent talk about the Soot compiler framework, the outline had two points: "About Soot" and "About Soot's development".

a physicist said...

Outlines: I agree, they don't belong in any talk. But they especially don't belong in a short talk.

Conclusions: I like having a conclusions slide, but I don't read it. When I'm out of time I'll just put the slide up and let it speak for itself while I answer questions.

People running over time: when I moderate a session, I've been known to get rather aggressive when a speaker is running over their time. One year at an APS meeting I think I switched the projector to show the next speaker's laptop while the over-time speaker was still speaking. Several people afterwards told me I was a hero for doing that... apparently this person was notorious for going way way over time. (It was a graduate student, so no, it wasn't as heroic as interruping an extremely famous senior person.)

Anonymous said...

There is really only one steadfast rule for giving talks: NEVER go overtime. I don't care who you are. If you are reading this and you have ever gone overtime you have failed at this and need to go to a meeting for Overtimers Anonymous.

DrDoyenne said...

It"s the moderator"s fault when someone is allowed to go over their time. I"ve found that it's invariably the worst, least interesting speakers who go over the time limit. No surprise there. If they haven't good speaking skills, they are unlikely to have bothered to time their talk.

I think more of us have an issue with whether to use one's entire time to finish our conclusions or stop and allow questions. 15 minutes is not very long to cover a complicated study with several important and interconnected objectives. Conferences request that you allot 5 minutes for questions, which cuts your time to 10 minutes. Why? I would rather hear what the speaker has to say. Do you cover only two of your three main points and then get the question of why you only looked at objectives x and y, but not z? You then spend the last 5 minutes of your time answering that question, but could have covered this point in the same time and had it smoothly incorporated into your presentation. Or you don't explain an obvious implication of your work (which was on the conclusions slide you skipped) and have someone in the audience point it out (instead of you), If the conference allots 20 or 30 minutes to speakers, then it's reasonable to expect a few minutes for questions. But not one third of your allotted time.

I attended a conference recently that had daily plenary talks of one hour at the start of each day. I.gave one of these and found it interesting that the organizers did not allow questions after these plenaries, and we were told to please use the entire hour--that everyone wanted to hear what we had to say, not what someone in the audience disagreed with or did not understand. I don't entirely agree with this sentiment, but I did enjoy not having to decide what to leave out in order to allow time for questions.

Anonymous said...

I recently chaired a paper session at a conference for the first time. I generally have my talks down to exactly the allotted time myself so I have little patience for people who run over. In this case, the first presenter in the session was running over - I don't know if it was a failure of planning or of execution. I ended up letting her run long and then basically cutting her question time to zero to stay on track. She kept acknowledging that she was running over, but seemed to not care. BTW, definitely NOT a senior person in my field, not even a well known person.

Stephanie said...

I totally disagree with most of you. I think you must have very amazing brains capable of much better attention than even the rest of us "normal" scientists...or maybe it's just me? I don't really like most outlines at the beginning of a SHORT TALK because it does seem like they are so often pointless--the worst is when outlines slides have listed just intro, research, conclusions! But, summing up the major points made in something like an outline, even in a short talk, I like. Otherwise I just kind of forget what the heck is going on and how everything fits together. Especially at a conference, where you are constantly in information overload mode, it helps me to see the conclusions for what the research found all together at the end. We tend to remember the end the most, so to me that is the best time to draw conclusions together and make your big final statement. I really thought you were going to like the skip to the outline idea best because to me that seems to be obviously the best way to actually make sure your talk was in the end effective for getting your main points across. Boy was I wrong!

In long talks (>30mins) I like outlines and I like when they go back to the outline along the way. Otherwise I forget what happened at the beginning and I forget how things connect. You people have freakish-ly good brains and maybe you need to think a mile in someone elses brain (or see a talk in someone else's brain) to appreciate how "normal" brains work a little better. Assuming that anyone who makes it in science must have a freakish brain like that or they can't succeed because you are going to skip all the things that help normal people follow talks is just another form of an -ism, I think. Non-freakishly powerful brain-ism, we could call it.

I'm not saying let dumb people do science. I'm a freakishly smart chick who is an asset to science, in my opinion and the opinion of some other PhD's. I just don't have a great memory for random information that's not yet all connected up with stuff already in my brain. And, sometimes my attention span isn't what it used to be. I swear this is getting worse due to the stupid Iphone that I want to get rid of now.

In any case, I'm curious which method you describe would actually be more effective for people to remember what the talk was about 1 month later? Or even 1 week later? That is an interesting research question for the education folks.

I guess this all comes down the the question, what is the goal of your talk? To speak only to the experts in your sub-sub-field of science? I can follow the talks that are very related to my research because I already have those nice brain connections so everything isn't new and it fits in nicely with what's already in there. To have those experts remember your talk or just to spark their interest so they will go download your papers? To speak to people in your sub-field and have them follow your talk? Remember your talk? Learn something that is related to their research and allows them to connect your two sub-fields because your talk was so awesome they now see a new connection?

What SHOULD the goals of a talk in the various formats be (ex, conference 12-15 min talk, conference 30 min, 60 min invited talk, departmental colloquium)?

Note that this is also a very interesting and often overlooked question for teaching in the classroom as well. Is the goal for them to just understand the material enough to pass the tests or do you have any long-term goals? Thinking honestly about what your students will remember in 1 year and 10 years is an interesting experiment, especially because I know how little I remember from the classes that I took but don't use.

Anonymous said...

Talk outlines are the worst, especially for a short talk. Going over the time limit means that you think that whatever you have to say is Gosh Darn important that you need to steal (which is what it is) someone else's time slot. There is no research in the world that is so good that it makes that behavior acceptable. I think that session provider's should be able to jump in and cut people off.

As for ending without finishing the research slides in order to take questions or finishing research by eating up question time, I think that finishing research slides (without going into the next person's slot) is often better as questions can be highly variable in intelligence level and usefulness for the audience.

jenny said...

When finding myself with insufficient time left, I just go quickly over the last slides, put up the conclusions slide without reading it, and take questions. But I too get quite annoyed when people take much longer (more than about 10% more, I would say) than allotted time, even if I was enjoying their talk before that.

Also, without meaning to highjack FSP's thread, I would like to offer a variation and ask how people approach the problem of invited speakers (in departmental seminars) who go WAY over time. Sure there are no other speakers waiting for their turn, but people's time is still important in this case. The talk has (usually) been quite long enough already by the allotted time. And yet, standing up to indicate "time's up" seems weird when you've invited that person to give that talk.

Anonymous said...

I recently attended a major conference in my field where Superstar-Household-Name researcher gave a talk as part of a panel. He didn't give a presentation (too modern/flashy and ya-know clear?) but read a paper (which is not what the rest of my field does). He then proceded to take up 80-90% of the time allocated to 3 people. I think it was actually supposed to be 4 and one couldn't make it. The whole ballroom of over a thousand people was getting antsy and annoyed - the unrest was palpable. Lots of people walked out before person 2 got to speak as they needed to go put up posters and such for the next session. But, being the superstar that he is, and very old, people were respectful enough to not mass exodus during his talk.

My impression was that this guy was an arrogant jerk. Between stealing time, not conforming to the presentation conventions of the field and his apparent obliviousness to the whole thing just gave me a bad taste in my mouth. Maybe he was insulted he was part of a panel rather than being a stand-alone keynote? Who knows, but he managed to tarnish his superstar image with a lot of grad students who would otherwise be a bit awed.

Anonymous said...

I'm curious about the comment about moderators being better about cutting people off. Have you seen any methods that are consistently effective for this? I've witnessed plenty of examples of speakers completely ignoring moderators who signal time in various methods (hand gestures, standing up). I also used to go to a meeting where all podiums had a timer with a green/orange/red/flashing red button - impossible to miss! Maybe all moderators should have a way to cut off the speaker's mic?

Canadian_Brain said...

Outlines are especially terrible when the person spends 2-3 minutes of the 15 minute talk on the damn outline. I especially love when the speakers outline basically has the same wording as their 'intro/background' slide, but smaller font.

Unrelated hatred: Young/Student presenters who are reading a speech word for word.

John Vidale said...

To answer the question:

I'd stop briefly on each of the remaining slides, just mentioning the main point, then somewhat speed up the conclusions. Which doesn't seem to be a listed option.

I put a summary slide at the beginning and end even of my 12-minute talks. This isn't a murder mystery, I want the audience to know what I am trying to demonstrate from the start, and evaluate whether I proved my points at the end.

Anathema to me is a talk in which I am guessing "why is the speaker saying this? What was that graph's ultimate purpose?", when the majority of talks don't prove much of anything. Many speakers would benefit by being forced to articulate at the end what were the main points and why should anybody care.

As for running over time, just don't. At AGU, everyone can see the flashing red light, and thinks less of you the longer you interrupt the schedule. Especially the next speakers, who are likely specialists in your field.

Anonymous said...

I like it when a speaker puts up a single conclusions slide but doesn't read it or really talk about it (pops it up while saying, thanks, I'll end here). I take notes during talks, so it's nice to have a condensed version of what the speaker thinks is the important takeaway message to see if I missed anything. Seven to ten minute talks are standard in my field, so if you have more than one or two takeaway points, you're trying to cram too much in anyhow.

As far as what people should do when they're out of time: they should learn how to design a friggin talk for the time given. It isn't that difficult (one slide per minute of the talk works well). If for some reason you haven't timed the talk, watch the clock, and know which slides you can skip if you start to run out of time. Skipping methods is preferable to skipping discussion of the take home message (people can always read your paper later, think of talks as advertisements for your paper).

I really like your suggestion of giving chronic offenders posters.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Anon 6:42 -- let's redo this survey for the session moderators!

Anonymous said...

I may be the only one, but outlines don't bother me that much. It's totally uncreative and looks bad if you literally write "outline: introduction, methods, point A, point B, conclusions" but at least the speaker is "telling you what they are going to tell you" so you aren't lost. A talk less than 15 min does NOT need an outline, though. I think that, instead, if it's done creatively (like showing a model and saying that part 1 of talk is left-hand side of model and part 2 is right-hand side, and then showing the completed model as the conclusions slide), it can orient the audience well. Otherwise, especially if the talk is running long, the audience may just be like "why are they still talking? when will this end? how many more points do they have to make?"

But, being over the time limit is my number 1 pet peeve of all time. It doesn't matter how awesome and famous you are, if you go more than 10% of your allotted speaking time over, you disrespect the entire audience, and they won't really hear a word you are saying. Seriously, when I'm at seminars, once it hits that time point, all I hear in my head is "is it over yet? how about now? is it rude if I left right now?" And, number 2 pet peeve is when the speaker starts skipping over slides AFTER time is out, stops on a few, and decides to describe them in complete detail but at top verbal speed. If this was the most interesting part of the study, maybe all that other stuff you talked about before shouldn't be in the talk at all.

Female Science Professor said...

Moderators can glare, stand up, give verbal warnings/threats, and of course some venues have the green-yellow-red traffic lights, including the ominous blinking red (= totally out of time), but it seems that none of these are particularly effective for the worst offenders. Has anyone tried cutting off a presentation visually? (that is, switching off the presentation entirely?). I have never seen this, but I have thought about it.

MZ said...

At the meetings of one society that I always attend, we have synchronized timers hooked up to the speakers used to broadcast sound in each of the rooms where talks are held. At the end of the suggested talk period, a few seconds of music or animal sounds are played in each room. The speaker then has 3 minutes to either take questions or finish up. After the 3 minutes, VERY LOUD music or animal sounds, loud enough so that no one could talk over them, are played, and everyone has 2 minutes or so to move to another room if they want or just chill until the next talk. It works perfectly, prevents the oblivious from taking up others' time, and keeps the sessions synched. I have no idea why every single conference doesn't do this.

Anonymous said...

Never go over time, even by 1 minute. It is extremely rude. If you are caught off guard, then the best option is #4.

However, I think that the real work necessary to address the overtime issue comes before you even get to the conference. The important material should come first, and the presentation should have a "crumple zone" at the end. This consists of small "modules" lasting only 5 minutes or less each, each of which can safely be skipped without compromising the talk too much. Then in the event of things going slower than expected, you simply allow the crumple zone to crumple to the appropriate degree, shortening the presentation by skipping as many modules as necessary.

For example, if I'm giving a 50 minute talk, I might have the first 30 minutes consist of the main portion of the talk, and then have 5 5-minute "modules" at the end. If things go faster than expected, I could cover all the modules. If they go slower than expected, I could do just 1 or 2 of them. When I have 5 minutes left, I finish the module I'm currently doing and shut up.

When this is done properly, the flow of the presentation isn't interrupted at all. It's hard at first to come up with topics that can be safely dropped from a talk -- after all, everything you do is extremely important and worth hearing -- but after some practice it becomes a lot easier.

Anonymous said...

Hey, are there papers available for these theoretical talks?

If there are, I'm comfortable skipping all the details and going to the juicy conclusions. Somethings along the lines of, "We used a large sample telephone survey, see the paper for details. What we found was.........".

Having the paper available makes a big difference.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I LOVE the music idea! I go to a conference with a large number of synchronized talks and they use the red/yellow/green light method. In my experience, it works well. I think the pressure of the highly parallel schedule enforces it.

Female Science Professor said...

I like the animal sounds idea. I have been to conferences with the red-yellow-green light indicator, but I haven't seen that it makes much difference, at least not for certain people. Maybe it works for the vast majority, but it's easier to focus on being annoyed by the miscreants.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the conclusions slide - I think FSP made an important point in the original post that slid by most people. A lot of conferences are international, and - from what I hear - people who aren't native English speakers appreciate having words to read in case the speaker talks too fast or has an accent they're not familiar with; similarly, if someone does have a strong accent (due to nationality or just local dialect), a conclusions slide is the best way to make sure everyone understood what you were trying to say. I think it's required, though I agree it's annoying when it's read word for word.

Anonymous said...

Going over (by more than your time alloted for questions can accommodate, I agree this is usually no more than 10% of the talk time) is THE WORST. There is no excuse. I went to a conference where the conference chair had specifically rearranged the schedule to give one guy lots of extra time compared to everyone else, knowing in advance he likes to talk a lot. You might think the speaker then kept to time, but you'd be wrong. He went over by 50 minutes (for a talk scheduled to be 45 minutes). WTF????????

Anonymous said...

Have you guys ever seen the the (ig)nobel awards presentation? When awardees go over in their acceptace speech, the voice of a small child saying "Please stop, I'm bored..." over and over again, louder and louder is played. It's amazing.

Anonymous said...

I really don't understand the outline slide hate. Let me give an example: in my field it might be

* Motivation
* Equivariant Schubert calculus
* Floer homology
* Loop groups
* New results

That is nice because then I know the speaker's going to introduce three cool topics and then tie them all together in the last part. What's wrong with this?

I suppose in math we never have outline slides that say "methods" or "conclusions" -- so is that the difference? Simply outlining how things will proceed will help me focus my attention appropriately and indicate whether it's a proofy talk or a big-picture talk.

Anonymous said...

I hate it when boring speakers go over time, and I have walked out from front-row seats.

But I also have a poor sense of time when I am doing things (programming, reading, giving a talk), so I have run over, even with carefully timed talks. Some of my best talks are ones that I have given under very different time constraints (the same material in anything from 20 minutes to 3 hours), and so it is easy to accidentally slip in more than there is time for, particularly in response to a question in mid-talk.

If I run out of time, I generally skip through to my last slides, which have a very quick list of the main points and URLs for more information (including a PDF version of the slides). I leave the URLs up during the question period (if there is any left).

It helps me if the moderator does not rely on subtle signals (does holding a hand up mean 5 minutes left? or time's up?). I'm generally looking out at the whole audience, not focusing on the moderator, who often is not even particularly visible at the side of the stage.

I would welcome a big visible light.

Anonymous said...

-Outlines are usually bad in short talks but okay if they're particularly interesting/useful (almost never)

-I do like outlines that repeat throughout for longer talks if they help clarify the different "sections" of the talk (going beyond intro, experimental, results, etc.). Also, the speaker needs to use the outline slides in their segue between sections and not just pop them up and skip over them.

I actually don't like long conclusions slides, period. Read or unread. I've started putting a lot of effort into making short and snappy conclusion slides (that I do go over), often with figures if possible. My undergrad advisor always told me you had to provide a "take-home message" and that's what I try to do - but without bogging the listener down with a ton of detailed conclusions.

Anonymous said...

In my country you are supposed to end the speech in time. Too long speeches make me grit my teeth!

Anonymous said...

1c: "I'm running out of time, so I'm going to skip this slide. What it shows is... [long description]" (adkowledges time constraints, but is ineffective at finishing on time.)