Disclaimer: if you are reading this as first post of the blog you should understand something. This blog is composed of 93.45% of sarcasm, and this post is a perfect example of it. If you are in that percentage of homo sapiens that do not understand sarcasm there is only one thing to do: shut down the computer, burn it and run away as fast as you can. Run Forrest, run.
After the disclaimer we can go on:
The first slide is your business card. It should be memorable, people should talk about your first slide for years. The background must be a trippy flashy color. It’s kind of difficult picking up the right color, but usually flash green or pinky are quite good as starting point. Then move around to see what’s fit best with the rest of the presentation. People in the audience should put the sunglasses on. This is the effect you want to achieve. Remember to add a disclaimer about the possibility of detachment of the retina. This will also solve most of the legal problems.
For most of my life I thought that comic sans was the best that you can use everywhere. From lab journals to presentations to curriculum vitae to messages in the sky. I was wrong. Now I realized that the best you can do is to mix a lot of different fonts and font sizes, even better if you do it on the same slide. Here you really catch the attention of the audience with a kind of eye examination tests. After your talk walk in the audience, you should be able to ear something like: “hey that was an U or a C in the third slide?” – “I must change my lenses” – “was it cyrillic?”
Don’t forget to use webdings and symbols as fonts. People love those.
Use fancy transitions that takes from 5 to 10 minutes to fully load and change slides. In that time the audience have all the time for digesting your data. In some other cases you need to go back and forward in your presentation. Do it really really quickly. Forgot to say something about a graph that was 5 slides before? No problem, fast fast fast fast back and then fast fast fast fast forward. People will be amazingly flashed by your slides. Trick: if you manage to show 25 slides per seconds, you achieve a movie frame rate. It’s a pity that there are no so many people able to do it.
You don’t want to bore the audience with a normal/boring kind of voice. Try to imitate some funny voice like Donald Duck, Darth Vader, French or Italian stereotypic accent and so on. Modify the loudness of your voice multiple times in a single sentence. From time to time just stop talking at all. Change the slide, stop talking, look at the slide without saying one word, look at the audience and then look back at your slide. Always without speaking. Your face should be like “who the hell put this slide here?”. Repeat “hummmm” “hemmmmm” hammmmmm” like a mantra.
Load the slides with all the raw data that you have, it doesn’t matter if it is necessary or not for your goal. Damn, we are in a scientific conference! The audience is expecting data like people form ancient Rome were expecting blood in the colosseum. Give them blood! slides full of numbers (up to the 9th decimal), non-sense graphs (and do not label the axes, people want to be challenged), chemical structures with horrible geometries and so on. Think also that 10% of the population is color blind, so, as a good joke, always put red and green trend lines in the same graph.
Say always the truth:
“why did you use reagent X instead of Y?” – “because it was the closest to my fume hood”
“can you apply this to the real world” – “yes and I am already doing it (put your hand in your pocket and take out some powder), you see?”
“the NMR doesn’t look that clean” – “it’s not the spectra, it’s the screen or the beamer”
Sometimes you need to avoid nasty questions, I always recommend to have a couple of distractions already prepared for the moment of the nasty questions. Something like one of your colleague lighting a cigarette in the audience, farting really loud, or blowing a vuvuzela. This will keep the attention far away from you (but you need to have a really good colleague). The use of a smoking bomb is also quite nice, but remember to scream “SEE YOU IN HELL” when you disappear in the smoke.
Last but not the least: the sound of “thank you” and “fuck you” are quite similar, and it’s always nice whispering “fuck you for the nice question”.