This is where you begin to tailor the talk to the situation, and for that reason this stage is very important for a successful presentation. Talk to your host and clarify these points before you spend much preparation time. If the environment and audience are unfamiliar to you, this is a critical stage. You may even want to do a literature search on potential audience members to identify areas of common interest or potential questions which may arise. Begin this stage early - the more lead time you allow yourself, the more time you will have to think up novel approaches to the topic and the more interesting and substantial your presentation will be.
Before you begin preparing the presentation, you'll need to determine:
- The type of talk you will be expected to give
- will this be an informal chat, a seminar discussion, or a more formal presentation?
- different talks have different purposes; the intent of a conference presentation is not the same as a job talk. When in doubt, ask for guidance from your host.
- The composition of the audience
- will you be speaking to a general audience or specialists?
- how many people are expected to attend?
- is this likely to be a friendly audience? An interactive audience?
- The time allotted for the talk
- the longer the talk, the more freedom you will have to explore the topic
- a short talk needs to be very clear and to address the topic directly
- is question time included?
- Expectations for information content
- is there a specific purpose for having you give a talk? Clarify the expectations beforehand and plan to address them during the presentation.
- will you be presenting novel concepts to this audience, or building upon their prior knowledge? Either way, make sure you cover the basics clearly, and early in the talk, to avoid loosing the audience.
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