The three rules of public speaking:

Make your lecture simple;

be sure to prove something ask something;

prepare, in detail;

organize the content and adjust to the level of the audience;

keep it short, and, to be sure of doing so, prepare it so as to make it flexible.

How does a talk differ from a written paper?

How Do Written Slides Differ from Writing in a Paper?

  1. A talk covers less material in less detail than a paper.

  2. A talk reinforces meaning, notation, and direction, because a listener cannot pause or review earlier slides.

  3. You can relax some formal English rules to make your slides terser.

  4. Within reason, you can write imprecisely, incompletely -- and even incorrectly! This strategy can simply the content of a slide by removing excess detail. However you must identify or even correct the inaccuracies by the end of the talk.

Designing the Talk

Analyze the audience... Choose a title that attracts listeners...

Design the talk to reinforce:

Aides to reinforcement:

Design the talk with multiple entry points, so that a listener can pick up the talk again after getting lost.

Try to be somewhat entertaining!

The listener's attention peaks after 10 minutes, so be sure to put the thing you want the audience to remember at the start, not at the end!


  1. Examples of Performance Problems
  2. The Chitra Approach
  3. Example of Modeling: Transient Behavior
  4. Open Research Problems
  5. Summary of Chitra's Features

Writing the Slides

Writing Slides: some guidelines...

  1. Make each slide unified:

  2. Minimize the number of words on each slide

  3. Use italics, underlining, and boxes to make word-only slides less monotonous

  4. Use diagrams whenever possible

  5. Plan to spend two minutes discussing each slide

  6. Prepare a notes page for each slide, which contains exhaustively enumerates all you want to say. Do not make the slide an exhaustive enumeration!

  7. Leave plenty of white space on a slide

  8. Use consistent alignment and indentation on a slide

  9. Use color sparingly and tastefully

  10. Use a suitably large font size for the room in which you'll be speaking:
  11. The first slide should contain:
  12. Use a footer on slides with a page number and date. Use this to keep your slides in order.

  13. Limit the number of lines on a slide to 7 to 10.

  14. If a slide is too long, either:

  15. If a stream of development spans several slides, repeat critical notation or information on each slide.

  16. If you think you'll need to refer back to an earlier slide, insert a duplicate slide -- don't fumble with the slides during your talk.

  17. Chop sentences mercilessly to the bare minimum that is readily comprehensible...

  18. Do not write too close to the edge of the slides, because some projectors have a smaller area of projection.

Giving a Practice Talk

I recommend giving a practice talk of the full talk at least once. Some hints:

  1. If you find yourself drawing on the blackboard or saying lots of extra words for one slide during the talk, it means you need to add another slide!

  2. The more times you give your practice talk, the smoother it will be.

  3. If you practice your talk too much it will loose its spontaneity.

  4. During your practice talk(s), you should revise your slides as much as possible. Don't be afraid to massively reorgainize your talk.

  5. Look for stumbling blocks. A stumbling block is a critical fact in the talk that you later discover that some listeners didn't understand, and consequently caused the listener to get lost for a large portion of your talk.

Some Hints on Speaking

Do not speak

Let the audience give you feedback: I try to listen to the audience as I speak. If I can hear a pin drop, then you can tell them anything in the next 30 seconds and everyone will listen!

Point to the slide as you speak, not to the overhead projector.

Do not stand between the projector lamp and the screen!

Try to avoid fumbling through the slides when someone asks a question.

Don't cover part of the slide up (some people find this irritating); instead use overlays.

Separate slides from the paper backing before your talk; consider using plastic sleeves.

Be sure the slide is high on the screen so that people in the last row can see!