Stop pointing at your screen!

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It's an involuntary gesture and I'd bet it has happened to all of us: You want to point out something on your slides but instead of pointing to the projected slide that the audience sees, you're pointing to your laptop's screen or the preview monitor.

Talks evolve

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My background is in talks at technical conferences where the CfP, the infamous "Call for Papers", rules. When a conference is announced, a call goes out to potential speakers to submit a proposal for a talk. When following that call, you are confronted with a form that you have to fill out. Specifically, it asks you to submit a title for the talk and a short description of the content (commonly known as the "abstract"). Once submitted, you wait for the conference committee to accept your talk - and only then do you actually start working on it.

There's a flaw in this approach. Can you spot it?

Separating Driver and Presenter

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I would usually argue that the speaker should always be in full control of his or her slides. They know the presentation best and, amongst other things, it will give them a chance to go back in case they forgot something or have to revisit an earlier point.

So I was surprised to learn about the recommendation to have a separate "driver" for the slides, i.e. someone whose only job it is to advance the slides in sync with the actual speaker. How and when does that make sense?

Anecdotes are not data, but they help

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The plural of anecdote is not data. This is something you often hear from people with a scientific mindset or technical background. Too often, they warn us, we fall into the trap of overrating the importance of an event, especially if it happened to us. Because of that close connection, we tend to think it would be representative - that it's something that happens to others, too, and that we can draw conclusions from it.

In a way, this is the dark side of storytelling. We must not give in to it.

Attention Span - Humans vs. The Goldfish

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You've probably heard someone being characterised as having "the attention span of a goldfish", meaning that he or she can only focus on something for a very short time. If you search for the actual attention span of a goldfish, you'll even come across a recent study that found that the average human attention span is now less than that of a goldfish (human: 8.25 seconds, goldfish: 9 seconds).

So what does that mean for presentations?