Communicating across borders
Over the past couple of weeks, we have conducted three seminars on how to give effective oral presentations. Our participants were researchers from many different countries. English is our working language on the seminars, regardless of nationality. We all have different accents and different styles, but, interestingly, we also have many similarities. Globalisation implies that we adopt the same manners and conventions, regardless of where we are on the planet. We meet up and inspire each other. That’s what makes our workshops so rewarding for participants and instructors alike.
We observe developments in presentation techniques, many for the better, some for the worse. Speakers base their choices on taste and technical requirements. Other choices are not really choices, but more conventions, things we do without really thinking too much about it. An example is the final slide in an oral presentation: speakers increasingly round off their presentation by saying “thank you” (warmly recommended!), and then we are shown a slide with a pretty picture and “Thank you - questions?”. That slide often stays on the screen when members of the audience ask questions
Do we really need the “thank you” in writing? Generally, we think not. We recommend that the last slide in oral presentations gives the audience 3-5 punchlines that sum up the essence of the presentation. If that slide stays on the screen, it will inspire relevant dialogue with the audience. Better questions - relevance. The speaker knows that the essence of the presentation has been communicated. Five take-home punchlines - value. Thank you for your attention.