The ten-minute rule for presentations

Mike gives us 3 rules to improve our presentations. Two of the rules I knew: you have to practice and you should present pictures, not text, on your slides. The other rule is the 10-minute rule: you have to insert a break in your presentation every 10 minutes to refresh the audience.

I must admit that I am really bad at attending presentations. I usually fall asleep within 5 minutes. But, at least, if you try to start fresh every 10 minutes, you may catch me when I randomly wake up. But do not mind me: I must be an outlier. For one thing, I really prefer to read your papers rather than listen to a 50-minute talk. I have this strange belief that lectures are leftovers from an era when paper and ink were expensive. But, yes, I know that talks reach many people who would not otherwise read the papers.

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Daniel Lemire

A computer science professor at the University of Quebec (TELUQ).

2 thoughts on “The ten-minute rule for presentations”

  1. For me, seminars are guided tours to a research topic. My best possible response to a seminar is, “I can’t wait to read the paper.” Unfortunately, the converse isn’t true. Given how awful most presentations are, I can’t really write off a project just because I have hated the seminar. But it does fall low on my “things to do”.

  2. It’s interesting that this extends to many conference presentations. When I first started attending conferences I was annoyed that I got the proceedings when only when I arrived and not earlier.

    As it turned out, I could have skipped most of the presentations and just read the papers. Most of the value in the conference was the social events spent talking with people with similar interests about their work.

    It would be a much more efficient use of time to get the papers ahead of time and read them. Then the presentations could be a brief recap and discussion where readers might be able to ask insightful questions.

    In short, don’t waste my time rehashing material I can get more efficiently from reading the paper.

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