On Technical Presentations

A liv­ing guide

Published: 23-6-18
This is part of the ar­ti­cles col­lec­tion.

Introduction

I’ve struc­tured this guide to dis­tin­guish be­tween ac­tion­able aid and ideas as best pos­si­ble. Hence ma­te­r­ial aids re­fer to things you need to go through or un­der­stand. The in­tan­gi­ble aids are sug­ges­tions, ba­si­cally, along with a rough guide to us­ing these.

Workflow

The work-flow is mainly for those with­out ac­cess to Pandoc, or a full TeX in­stall and need to use the web or win­dows.

This in­volves heavy us­age of typ­i­cal win­dows stuff, like Overleaf or MikTeX or PowerPoint.

If you’re on a *nix sys­tem, use the zenY­oda sys­tem in­stead.

Research and Presenting

Additionally this ar­ti­cle in­cludes gen­eral ob­ser­va­tions to pro­duce a good pre­sen­ta­tion. (insofar as I am able to judge)

Material Aid

Basically you’ll want to prep a ref­er­ence file and col­lect data. I’ll also briefly men­tion us­age pat­terns.

Papers and Books

It’s ex­pe­di­ent, though, not ex­actly le­gal to keep re­search ma­te­ri­als on some sort of on­line stor­age. I pre­fer box.

As al­ways, ad­di­tional stuff may be ob­tained from Google Scholar in con­junc­tion with with Libgen.io {Don’t for­get to choose Scientific Articles if you’re look­ing for ar­ti­cles.}

Overleaf (Beamer)

In case you want to use a tem­plate for mak­ing the pre­sen­ta­tion, or rather if you make it with beamer, you’ll need to first make mi­nor mod­i­fi­ca­tions to a tem­plate, ba­si­cally add ref­er­ences.

You can carry on with that setup here on Overleaf.

If you need to add more ref­er­ences then you need to search on Google Scholar and pick Bibtex in the ci­ta­tion for­mat (click on the but­ton) and add that to the ref­er­ences file. {demo.bib}

Powerpoint

In case you de­cide to go for a Powerpoint pre­sen­ta­tion, you can find some nice free tem­plates here on SlidesCarnival.

In that case you’ll want to ei­ther man­u­ally add the ref­er­ences by choos­ing one of the text styles with google scholar (I pre­fer the APA but they’re all good**.

Please en­sure you learn how to use the align sub­menu of the arrangebut­ton. [Home tab]

Always keep the ruler and grid­lines on dur­ing the de­sign phase. [View tab]

Mendeley

Actually if you go for Powerpoint then use Mendeley in­stead for man­ag­ing ref­er­ences, they have a nice plu­gin.

For the plu­gin of course you’ll need the desk­top app from here.

To use Mendeley, you’ll need to add the ar­ti­cles or pa­pers into it by sim­ply drag­ging and drop­ping them. You can also use the web ci­ta­tion man­ager but that won’t ac­tu­ally store a copy of the pa­per which can be prob­lem­atic.

Ideas and Intangible Aid

Presenting

Based on my ex­pe­ri­ences pre­sent­ing I would sug­gest the fol­low­ing:

General Observations

  • Focus on clar­i­fy­ing the ba­sics
  • Choose a few top­ics to fo­cus on (or even one)
  • Mention clearly mul­ti­ple use cases, and stress you’re only un­cov­er­ing the tip of the ice­berg
  • Stay away from de­riva­tions
  • Try for at-least one pic­ture a slide
  • Don’t cram too much text
  • Don’t put full sen­tences
  • Make a mod­u­lar pre­sen­ta­tion so you can skip en­tire sec­tions or in­clude them with­out break­ing the flow
  • Introduce the flow of the pre­sen­ta­tion, high­light­ing as­pects you might brush over briefly (maybe not for col­lege)

Program Specific Details

  • With beamer es­pe­cially, the head­ings are re­ally use­ful
  • You may struc­ture con­tent un­der a sin­gle head­ing over many slides by us­ing a Title - Number for­mat
  • With Powerpoint, try to main­tain a ba­sic struc­tural lay­out, ex­pect for a few call-out slides

Citations

  • Stick to a con­sis­tent ref­er­ence pat­tern, ei­ther on the slide it­self (\footcite style, i.e foot­notes) or at the end (master ref­er­ence style)
  • If you need \nocite ci­ta­tions (citations used mul­ti­ply, like books) put those at the end (master ref­er­ence)
  • Review ar­ti­cles may also be mas­ter refs, but re­mem­ber to ref­er­ence im­ages too
  • Technical ar­ti­cles men­tioned only once are typ­i­cally footcited

Researching

More an art than an ex­ploratory method­ol­ogy, I would still sug­gest the fol­low­ing for pre­sent­ing (at-least in col­lege):

  • Use the in­tro­duc­tory chap­ters from the books
  • Use the Review ar­ti­cles for fu­ture trends
  • Focus on a few tech­ni­cal as­pects
  • Don’t cram too many de­tails
  • Don’t be overly spe­cific
  • Put only pretty equa­tions
  • A pic­ture says a thou­sand words, but an equa­tion con­veys whole realms of knowl­edge
  • Remember to prompt ba­sic ques­tions and an­swer them within the pre­sen­ta­tion (gently)

Furthermore I ought to stress the avoid­ance of the fol­low­ing:

  • Googling (unless as a last re­sort)

Google above refers to the base search in­clud­ing crap like Quora, StackExchange etc. Google only when you don’t know the field to search

Also in gen­eral:

  • Always read the wiki ref­er­ences
  • Try to gauge the mo­men­tum of the field
  • Don’t hype old tech
  • Celebrate tech ma­tu­rity in­stead

This is ac­tu­ally a bit of a liv­ing (evolving) guide (insofar as non bind­ing sug­ges­tions are a guide).

Rohit Goswami

BTech Year IV | HBTU Kanpur | ChemE Dept.

S: ro­hit.646
E: r95g10[at]gmail.com