There’s been some more discussion around giving a good presentation. I find myself disagree with some points. First, of course, there are a series of guidelines that make presentations better: more practice, more confidence, attentiveness to one’s audience, etc. But second, individual mileage will vary considerably. For some people, 5-7 words per slide works great. For others, disaster. Likewise having fun, being ‘into’ your presentation, and things like that. I think some folks have been hooked by Tufte’s elegance, Atkinson’s storyboarding, and Hans Rosling’s enthusiasm. It’s the 2.0 aesthetic, to be sure.
But I kind of like literature reviews. Not in the sense that I like a litany of work that’s gone before. But to situate what you are going to talk about. For example, in a recent talk, I used the following slide:
This slide is meant to capture two different approaches in economic sociology. I can talk about this slide for 20 minutes, or for 5, giving specific examples and research to add meat if I have the time or at least flavor if not. But there are more than 6 words, and I still find it useful. Especially when followed by a slide that uses the same form, but adds substance from the current talk:
So now, you have the same slide, but progressively (there were interim discussion and slides) more content built onto the generic form. I guess I don’t see what the problem is here, or why I need to dumb down my slides to make my work more bite-sized. The audience was cultural sociologists, not economic sociologists, so it’s not as if this was a crowd who benefited greatly from shorthand. And yet.