Outlining

The primary purpose of a presentation is to provide information which the audience will then remember at a later date. Detailed referencing of material or extensive review of data won't be remembered - and may put the audience to sleep!

One way to maintain interest is to organize and present the material in a novel manner. Using a non-standard ordering of material will help to keep the audience interested. Similarly, organizing your material in a new way (rather than re-working an old talk) will help to keep your own interest in the topic, and will result in a talk which is more fresh and exciting.

The importance of outlining is often stressed in preparing written and oral presentations, but an outline following a linear format (headings, subheadings, etc.) may be restrictive. A list of terms and ideas can be daunting, and tends to focus attention on the final items. Consider creating an 'idea network' as an alternative approach for organizing your presentation (or your written paper).

A question that often is asked at this stage is "Is this enough material for the talk?". Actually, you'll probably find that you have far too much material. It is important to develop a realistic view of how much material is appropriate, and the ability to be ruthless in eliminating non-essential material. These abilities vary widely among presenters, and are important factors in determining the quality of the presentation. Here are a few guidelines for helping determine how much material is enough . . .

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Jeff Radel