Notes from Higham's Handbook of Writing for the Mathematical Sciences


The following information was taken from chapter 10, "Writing a Talk" and chapter 11, "Giving a Talk" Some of these suggestions will be more or less important depending on the formality of the talk, e.g., thesis defense vs. seminar talk.

Suggestions for creating slides:

  1. Start with a title slide with your name and affiliation - use it to focus (if using overhead).
  2. Following the title, start with a slide showing an outline of the talk and perhaps refer back to it throughout talk to orient the listener.
  3. Keep the information on the slides simple - can use phrases. Fill in the detail when you talk. Limit each slide to one idea or result. A title in the header of each slide will help the reader know where you are as well as a page number in the footer.
  4. Rule of thumb for time is 2 minutes per slide.
  5. Make sure font is large enough to see - especially important in distance ed context.
  6. It is sometimes useful to provide handouts of your slides or supplemental information (like references) to the audience. This may depend on the size of the audience and the length of your talk.

The Ten Commandments of Giving a Talk

  1. Design the talk for the audience.
  2. Prepare thoroughly and rehearse the talk.
  3. Produce clear, legible slides.
  4. Arrive early and check the lecture room.
  5. Speak slowly and loudly.
  6. Be enthusiastic about what you say.
  7. Look at the audience as you speak.
  8. Don't fidget with the slides or the pointer.
  9. Finish on time (or early).
  10. Answer questions courteously and concisely, and admit it if you don't know the answer.