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Presentation Skills for Scientists with DVD-ROM


  • 12 b/w illus. 5 tables
  • Page extent: 80 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.2 kg

1 Paperback, 1 DVD video

 (ISBN-13: 9780521741033)

Presentation Skills for Scientists
Cambridge University Press
9780521741033 - Presentation Skills for Scientists - A Practical Guide - By Edward Zanders and Lindsay MacLeod

Presentation Skills for Scientists: A Practical Guide

Scientists are rarely given formal training in presentation skills and yet are often called upon to present the results of their research. This book provides a practical guide to the creation and delivery of scientific presentations, whatever the topic. Its practical “how-to” style leaves discussion of the background psychology of public speaking to others and focuses instead on the issues that are of immediate concern to the busy scientist. The text covers all of the important aspects of scientific presentations, ranging from audience awareness to handling questions. Links are included throughout the text to the accompanying DVD, which contains annotated video clips of speakers delivering a talk, and demonstrates the common problems found with many presenters, as well as the exercises designed to overcome them. Image files of different slide layouts, colour schemes and font styles demonstrate the design issues that one must consider when creating visual material.

Edward Zanders is Managing Director of ScienceInform Ltd, a training company for people involved with the research-based pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. He has over thirty years' experience as a biomedical research scientist in both academia and industry.

Lindsay MacLeod is a highly experienced London tourist guide, and taught presentation skills to London Blue Badge guides for fifteen years. She is a member of the Institute of Tourist Guiding, the government approved body that sets standards for tourist guides.

Presentation Skills for Scientists

A Practical Guide

Edward Zanders

ScienceInform Ltd

Lindsay MacLeod

Lindsay MacLeod Ltd

Cambridge, New York, Melbourne, Madrid, Cape Town, Singapore, São Paulo, Delhi, Dubai, Tokyo

Cambridge University Press
The Edinburgh Building, Cambridge CB2 8RU, UK

Published in the United States of America by Cambridge University Press, New York
Information on this title:

© E. Zanders and L. MacLeod 2010

This publication is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements, no reproduction of any part may take place without the written permission of Cambridge University Press.

First published 2010

Printed in the United Kingdom at the University Press, Cambridge

A catalogue record for this publication is available from the British Library

Library of Congress Cataloguing in Publication dataZanders, Edward D.Presentation skills for scientists : a practical guide / Edward Zanders, Lindsay MacLeod.p. cm.Includes bibliographical references and index.ISBN 978-0-521-74103-3 (pbk.)1. Communication in science. 2. Public speaking. 3. Scientists – Vocational guidance.I. MacLeod, Lindsay. II. Title.Q223.Z36 2010808′.0665 – dc22 2009038170

ISBN 978-0-521-74103-3 Paperback

Cambridge University Press has no responsibility for the persistence or accuracy of URLs for external or third-party internet websites referred to in this publication, and does not guarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate.All material contained within the DVD-ROM is protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. The customer acquires only the right to use the DVD-ROM and does not acquire any other rights, express or implied, unless these are stated explicitly in a separate licence.


The presentation flowchart
1             Audience
2             Planning the talk
3             Selection and assembly of visual material
4             Controlling nerves
5             Voice
6             Delivery
7             Science and the English language
8             Handling questions
9             How did it go?
Conference checklist
Further reading


If surveys are to be believed, for most people formal public speaking is worse than bereavement; literally a fate worse than death. Pity then the practising scientists who have to plan and execute complex experiments, interpret the results, write them up for publication and then talk about them and answer questions in front of their peers. There is no choice in the matter, so they have to be able to plan a presentation, design their own visual material, speak clearly and confidently and be in control. Some people enjoy this challenge and have an instinctive ability to communicate information to audiences. Others find this particularly daunting and let themselves down through nervousness, poor voice control or by producing confusing slides that fail to convey a clear message. Most scientists know if they belong to the second group of people and most do want to improve their performance. This improvement can be achieved by every speaker, regardless of personality, but requires practice and attention to detail. The result will be a more confident speaker who can convey enthusiasm and authority without necessarily having an extrovert personality.

This book and associated DVD-ROM are designed as a practical guide to scientific presentation that busy scientists can refer to without having to absorb large amounts of theory and background to verbal communication. It is based on a course that we have delivered to technicians, PhD students, postdoctoral fellows and business development managers in Cambridge and elsewhere in the United Kingdom. Apart from receiving instruction in preparing and delivering scientific talks, each delegate is filmed delivering a short technical presentation and the recording is played back to them. Over the years we have learnt a great deal about the specific problems with scientific presentation and how these problems can be addressed. We therefore decided to pass this knowledge on to others in the form of this book and the DVD-ROM that contains realistic presentation scenarios and helpful exercises.

The authors have used their different professional backgrounds in a complementary way; Lindsay MacLeod covers the “soft skills” required for all public speaking, drawing on her many years of experience in

training Blue Badge guides in London, and over twenty years of regular presenting. Ed Zanders covers the skills required to process and deliver scientific data to an audience in a short period of time. He brings over thirty years' experience as a practising scientist and has studied many hundreds of presentations from junior scientists up to Nobel Laureates; he has also delivered many of his own talks in the UK and abroad.

The book is presented in a compact format, enabling the speaker to carry it in a case or handbag, perhaps en route to a conference or seminar venue; the enclosed DVD-ROM can even be used on the road or at the conference. We envisage this being particularly useful for last-minute practice of the exercises to control nerves and enhance vocal modulation.

The chapters are laid out as components of a flowchart to cover the most important aspects of scientific presentation systematically, ranging from audience awareness through to handling questions. Although the text can be referred to on its own, the material on the DVD-ROM provides detailed practical help in the form of slides and video clips and is a critical part of the publication. The DVD-ROM includes a PowerPoint presentation on a biomedical topic to illustrate effective and poor delivery styles for native and non-native English speakers. It also includes demonstrations of exercises designed to assist in developing a clear modulated speaking style. Finally, we have included a checklist at the end of the book covering the key points that have to be addressed before giving a presentation.


Thanks are due to Sian Deciantis and her colleagues at Nexus TV in Cambridge UK for filming and editing the DVD-ROM material. We also thank the three presenters David Evans, Ardian Kastrati and Jennifer MacLeod for their cheerful willingness to devote time to the project and to deal with unfamiliar technical material.

We acknowledge for the use of the New Yorker Cartoons in the book.

The Y chromosome figure for the slide theme example is reproduced by kind permission of Nature Publications.

We thank Professor Jane Gitschier (University of California San Francisco) who inspired the idea of creating an example talk around a fictitious gene on the Y chromosome, the OOPS gene.

Finally, we thank our families for their support and encouragement.

© Cambridge University Press
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