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The Art of Speaking Science

The Art of Speaking Science
Reported by
Leslie Knowlton

Posted January 23, 2007

Presented By


Presentation skills coach Lisa B. Marshall gave a two-hour seminar on October 17, 2006, at Columbia University for students and postdocs. Titled "Presentation Skills for Research Professionals," the session gave tips for organizing, delivering, and designing professional talks, and included a critique of slides that had been submitted by the science community for revamping.

Marshall emphasized that a well-organized presentation requires the distillation of volumes of work to its essential core rather than the presentation of all the material in an orderly way. In addition, the quality of a presentation's delivery strongly impacts how its content is processed. Successful talks also require visuals with strong design elements.

Web Sites

Art of Speaking Science
This blog for research professionals who want to improve their presentations includes audio and video podcasts, reviews and critiques of science talks and posters, answers to your questions, links and resources, and much more. You may not agree with all the advice, but you can join the discussion.

Lisa B. Marshall
Includes her Top 10 tips for Biomedical Presenters seminar and a Resources section with links to sites providing general presentation help, stock images and photos, and quotes.

Preparing Presentation Slides: A tutorial by John Battalio
A brief overview of the process for preparing presentation slides with important design principles to consider as you prepare your slides.

Ten Secrets to Giving a Good Scientific Talk
A short article by Mark Schoeberl and Brian Toon about how to prepare a talk, deliver it, and take questions from the audience.

Tips for Preparing Scientific Presentations
A thorough discussion of the art of scientific presentation produced for the Office of Naval Research and the Oceanographer of the Navy by The Oceanography Society.

Toastmasters International
A club that helps members to learn public-speaking skills in a supportive environment.


Alley M. 2005. The Craft of Scientific Presentations: Critical Steps to Succeed and Critical Error. Springer-Verlag, New York.
Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Morgan S, Whitener B. 2006. Speaking about Science: A Manual for Creating Clear Presentations. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Amazon | Barnes & Noble


Lisa B. Marshall

e-mail | web site

Lisa Marshall offers large group seminars, small group hands-on workshops, private one-on-one coaching, and podcasts that promote effective communication skills. She has extensive background and experience in technology, science, and adult education, and has been developing and delivering programs for over a dozen years. She has a master's degree in interpersonal and intercultural communication.

Leslie Knowlton

Leslie Knowlton is a freelance writer based in New York City and on Deer Isle, Maine. With a master's degree in psychology, she spent more than a decade as a correspondent for the Los Angeles Times and a medical writer and contributing editor for the Psychiatric Times. Her work has also appeared in dozens of other newspapers and magazines including the Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, New York Daily News, Cosmopolitan and Fitness.