How to write a paper

I started my career in R&I. As such I have published a couple of research papers and presented these at industry conferences around the globe.

Each time again I was surprised to see (undoubtedly) bright scientists appear on stage, reading the words (they had straightforwardly copied & pasted from their technical paper into PowerPoint slides) aloud from the projection screen. I won’t even mention the ones that were shamelessly presenting with their back to the audience.

Unfortunately I have also seldom experienced any thrill or excitement when listening to these –often interesting, but always boring– presentations.

Well, this is why I commenced doing it the other way around. Starting from an proper presentation pitch, a consistent storyboard and a compelling set of visuals, it’s actually fairly easy to create a clear, well structured and readable conference paper, white paper or magazine article (even illustrated with some relevant graphics). What works for listeners and viewers, may also work for readers.

Take the necessary time to follow the steps below. You’ll be surprised how quickly you have the first draft of your paper ready.

  1. Choose your topic, build your storyboard, create your presentation.
  2. Rehearse, present, fine-tune …
  3. … until content and flow are stable and resonate with the target audience.
  4. Write down speaker notes. Use the words, examples, anecdotes that worked well with the listeners.
  5. Copy & paste the notes into a text document (yes, now you ‘re allowed to use ctrl-c and ctrl-v).
  6. Add structure, layout, titles and images as necessary.
  7. Proofread, correct, reflow, reword … until you’re satisfied with the result.