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To suffer…we all know what this means, right? According to Wikipedia, “suffering is the basic element that makes up the negative valence of affective phenomena.” In humorous irony, that definition is painful…and made me suffer!  This is the problem with most science presentations…they’re hard to understand…and painful.

Think about the majority of science presentations you’ve ever heard. How many of them can you remember, and how many of them were top notch interesting? I suspect the number nears zero. Why? Well, look at the slides covered with text and bullets, listen to the speaker’s monotone voice, and note the lack of passion in the overall presentation. No smiles, no body language, no connection with the audience other than being in the same room at the same time. Was there a story or anything that touched your emotions or tickled your senses? I bet not. What a terrible waste of your time…and how painful.

Bad presentations hurt us…and make us suffer. They make us look ridiculous, arrogant or annoying. They fail to accomplish our intention: transferring information to the audience and inspiring them to take action or buy into your premise. A poor presentation can mean no funding, bad public policies, and an inability for you to be promoted. Moreover, if you look bad, everyone looks bad: your lab, your students, your university (or company), and all of us in science. To repeat, bad presentations make us (and the audience) suffer.

Make a commitment to improve your presentations. Improve your delivery, message, and visuals. If you don’t have time or don’t know how to improve, get some help. Talk with your public relations office or other departments at your school (e.g., journalism). Consider having someone come in and give a seminar or workshop on how to prepare a good talk. And, consider the need for some private coaching to work on your ability to deliver good job interviews talks, talk to legislators, meet with the press and entertain your students with thrilling stories of science as seen through your eyes. Please…stop the suffering!