What are the key steps in preparing a
1. Know your audience:
- Your objective should be to educate your
audience, about the topic, about yourself and to obtain feedback.
- To do this, make sure you have a clear picture in your mind of who
your audience is. Consider: i) their level of background knowledge, ii)
their interests and iii) their number (talks to a handful of people should be much more
- When talking to a mixed audience, address your talk to the
ones with the least background. It makes no sense to direct your talk to
a few fellow experts and waste everyone else's time.
2. Outline your talk by outlining your slides:
- Decide what is it that you have discovered.
What is the main question and what is the
answer in terms your audience can understand?
- A good way to outline a talk is to work backwards.
Outline the conclusion slide first, then decide what essential data must be presented to
support this conclusion, and finally what minimum introduction and methods you need to
make the data understandable.
3. Write out your talk
- first in point form,
- then word for word.
- Use short sentences and simple words.
- "How to get to Carnegie Hall? Practice! Practice!
- Practice alone (don't worry that it makes
you feel silly. It's the same for everyone).
- Practice with a small audience (with
people outside the field to check that you have provided sufficient background & with
people in the field to check the facts).
- Practice explaining and pointing to each
element of the figure, clearly and in the correct order.
- Ask your test audience to take notes
during your talk and then go through these notes slide by slide.
5. More advice.
Copyright © 1995
Department of Physiology and Pharmacology
University of Western Ontario
London Ontario Canada
Created 28 Sept 1995
November 20, 2011