Slide decks and other stylised academic dominance displays

Presentations: The quantum of information for all parts of society for which the quantum of information is not a tweet or a Facebook status update or a preprint.

Powerpoint presentations are already purported to have various oft-cited defects but these I will not discuss here. In my trade, if they be evil they are also necessary. I’m all about harm minimisation of the evil, by minimising the amount of time I must waste on it.

So how do I actually give a good presentation?

Pedagogic considerations

On communicating to my peers and students.

Assertion-evidence is one school of presentation aesthetic (Garner and Alley 2013, 2016).

See perhaps, Dave Richeson, How to Present a Mathematical Proof or Problem. Popular: Patrick Winston’s How to speak self-demonstrating lecture best practice.

There is a tension between the need to keep slides text-filled to serve as a document of a lecture for reference, and a minimalist jumping-off point for thought.


29 Bullets is an essay by Powerpoint wiz Russell Davies in an amusing… ah just go read it.


Selling my work to non-specialists

Emma Donnelly of Comm-it has been coaching me on this.


Garner, Joanna K., and Michael P. Alley. 2013. How the design of presentation slides affects audience comprehension: A case for the assertion-evidence approach.” International Journal of Engineering Education 29 (6): 1564–79.
———. 2016. Slide structure can influence the presenter’s understanding of the presentation’s content.” International Journal of Engineering Education 32 (1): 39–54.
Rubenson, David. 2023. How Not to Chatter Like a Toddler When Giving a Scientific Presentation.” Nature, March.

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