Thursday, September 9, 2010

Presentations - check lists

If you think you cannot deliver a presentation without a written speech think again. You've answered questions without a written prompt - right? To deliver a presentation without reading it try to reduce your written speech down to keywords. Maybe start off with one keyword per paragraph then when you know what  you need to cover based on your keywords start merging the keywords. 

The key to a good presentation is to know your area well and to practice, yes even if you no longer have any friends because you've used them to pilot on when designing experiments you always have the mirror or if you dare video your own efforts - view - try again.

Pull your audience into your talk. You almost need to limit yourself to 140 characters or 14 sound bites. 

You do not have to cover everything in your talk. Your audience is not going to remember most of it the next day. Take a narrow focus and examine it in detail. 

Check list

  • Practice, you do not want to be looking at your notes the whole time.
  • Introduce yourself; this may include an appropriate background story as to why you are interested in this area.
  • Give the audience a take home message. The audience is only going to remember so much.
  • Clear focus, stay on a narrow topic. 
  • Make sure the audience can contact you.  
  • Ask for questions at the end even if you have been answering them throughout. 
  • Make sure you stay within your time limit (practice). 
  • Use show and tell if you can.
  • Handouts should be brief. You don't want the audience reading these while you are presenting. 

Powerpoint check list

  • Not too much text on slides.
  • Use images, figures, charts, tables rather then text.
  • Title slide should have the title, your name and your institute. 
  • Number the slides so that the audience can ask about a particular slide. 
  • The last slide could do with your name again and an email address or a way to contact you. 
  • Not too many slides; this is not a movie. 

Useful links

On the lighter side of Powerpoint

Powerpoint is overrated. Try to use it for important images/figures/tables and when you use it for text try to put up only keywords otherwise you will simply distract from your talk. Have a look at the clip below.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Publish or Perish (the p value)

I created this video about the ongoing, for years now, issue of the p value and its misuse. Actually I am not convinced it has any practical uses in a research article except maybe to tell the reader if you had enough participants or not.

If you want to know more about the uselessness of the p value read articles like:

Cohen, J. (1994). The earth is round (p < .05). American Psychologist, 49, 997-1003.

Schmidt, F., L, & Hunter, J. E. (1997). Eight common but false objections to the discontinuation of significance testing in the analysis of research data. In L. L. Harlow, S. A. Mulaik & J. H. Steiger (Eds.), What if there were no significance tests? (pp. 37-64). London: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.


I gave a lecture, The Cult of Significance Testing, on this issue using the video above to highlight the key issues.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A carbon neutral volcano?

Some nice visuals and a carbon neutral volcano (min17:48)? Very good.

David McCandless: The beauty of data visualization | Video on

IBM SPSS version 19 graduate pack

SPSS v19 Graduate pack is only going to be valid for 1 year, according to the SPSS help desk. Putting together a shrink wrap packaged for my students it looks like I will be stocking up on version 18 of the Graduate pack as it should still have the 4 year licence. This said the v19 Graduate pack may have more modules than v18 had, see IBM SPSS