Guidelines for the organization of a scientific talk

Scientific talks are addressed to a broad audience. Therefore, it is necessary that they are understood by all. The goal is to solve the following optimization problem:

In other  words, you must simplify the talk so that it is understood by all of the N attendees, but just enough. Since we are, for the moment, unable to solve this optimization problem, we provide a heuristic solution.

  1. Structure your talk in the following way:
    1. 10 minutes: presentation of the topic in a simple manner. Think about the first slides of your PhD defense!
      • What is the problem?
      • Why is this problem important?
      • What are the challenges of the problem?
      • What has been done so far?
    2.  5-10 minutes: the basics. Have a couple of slides of introduction to the technical part.
      • Present the basic mathematical (or other) tools
      • Explain the main contribution in a simple way
    3. 10-15 minutes: presentation of your contribution (or, the main contribution).
      This is the time to “knock yourself out” and present the technical details.
    4. 1-5 minutes: take home message.
      In your conclusion, think of presenting the take home message: the main thing that you want your audience to remember from your talk.
  2. Do not overload your slides. Keep it simple and clear. Overloaded slides require the attention of your audience, which means that they stop listening to you while they look at your slide.
  3. Speak slowly. Look at your audience to see if they understand your presentation. Since the description of the PhD seminars involves the word “interactive”, don’t be afraid to interact with your audience. Remember: we are here to share knowledge!


While these guidelines certainly are not obligatory, they constitute a good way of ensuring that the main ideas of your presentation are clear and that it is appreciated by everybody. However, if you have solved the above optimisation problem, or if you want to add something, feel free to do so by leaving a comment or by contacting the organizers!

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