I’m taking a class right now that prepares first-year students to present a journal club for the whole department. Having done this type of class before in my master’s program, as well as attending a bunch of conferences, I’ve had the chance to see some bad presentations. I’ve also given my fair share. The class focuses on making sure we don’t do that, generally teaching us what not to do so we don’t give a bad talk. The core of what not to do is encompassed in Susan McConnell’s YouTube video. The core of the video contains really good points: have organization slides (what she calls home slides), make your font readable, don’t dive straight into the details, etc.

The problem is that it’s much harder to go from a talk that does nothing wrong to one that’s exciting to watch. The difference is storytelling. Watch almost any good TED talk or think back to amazing talks you’ve seen at conferences. It’s always the case that the presenter did (almost) nothing wrong. But more than that, they told a compelling, complete story. The problem is how do you teach this? Even more so, how do you quantify what makes good storytelling? I’m all ears on this one, I’d love to hear if anyone has feedback.