The serious science of presenting science seriously

Whatever the purpose of your presentation – you may be trying to sell a product, convey an idea, or educate people –  there’s a message you need to deliver and a result you want to achieve.  But too often, this message gets diluted (or even obscured) by badly designed visuals, wrongly used presentation tools, or inappropriate speaking habits.

In an older post I embedded a YouTube video of standup comedian Don McMillan to illustrate the “death by PowerPoint” phenomenon. It shows how easy it is to kill a presentation by over-focusing on your slides and over-using the fancy features of software packages like PowerPoint, Keynote or Prezi (you may remember my article about why I don’t like Prezi).

Recently, I discovered another video that exposes the same behavior, but in an even more powerful way. While the audience of a comedian would expect the man or the woman in front to say and do some pretty crazy things, this movie shows a recording of a renowned researcher, speaking in front of an audience of undergraduate students.


In a 5 minutes long talk, the keynote speaker, Dr. Fisher-Katz, manages to make almost every possible presentation mistake. What the audience doesn’t know is that the famous scientist is actually a fictional character, impersonated by an actress, and that all of them are being tricked in the context of a communications course.

Enjoy the video. There’s so much you can learn from world’s worst research presentation

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