- The autoclave worked the last time I checked it
- I didn’t move that
- There shouldn’t be any problems
- I’ll be gone for just a few days, you should be able to handle without me
- Those samples probably aren’t important, you can throw them out
- If you cut my research funding, the western seaboard is doomed
1) Don’t use comic sans
Stop. Just stop.
2) Stop saying “of course” as a lead in to your sentences
There are two people who you are talking to at any given time during a presentation - those who already know what you are about to say, and those who don’t. When you say the phrase “of course”, what you are implying is that you are currently talking to the people who already know what you are about to say. If that’s the case, why are you saying the sentence at all. Those people are smart enough to understand that you are going to be addressing multiple people in the audience, and not everyone has the same level of expertise. Saying “of course” alienates the ignorant section of the audience and annoys the smart section. Stop saying it.
3) Don’t try to drown your audience with ‘knowledge’
There are people (you know who you are) who make slides that look like they printed a bunch of images they found on google, ate them, and vomited them back out onto the page. The slides these people make are brimming with schematics, flowcharts, chemical formulas, and size 8 font tables, yet somehow they only spend 8 seconds talking about it before sailing off to the next mangled jungle of jargon. The only people you are impressing with this style of presentation are the people who don’t matter. Everyone else is just getting more and more irritated at the amount of data that lacks explanation, eventually coming to the conclusion that you are full of shit and are attempting to hide that fact with 140 lines of irrelevant trial data.
4) Don’t get up in front of a crowd of 200 without practicing at least once
Do you know how cringe inducing it is to hear a grad student stumble through a presentation saying ‘um’ and ‘uh’ every other word? The only thought going through my mind is “please let this be over soon”. I have no idea what you are talking about, because I’ve started a tally on how many times you pause in a sentence. In fact, I’ve started a tally and am also breaking down the data I collect into different fields with timestamps because that’s how long it takes you to get through a single sentence. For the love of god, you are literally reading off the slide and still manage to pause 24 times in a single paragraph.
5) Don’t try to dodge questions
You know how pathetic it looks when you dodge a question, then sit there smiling with that vacant look that says “please ignore everything that was just said”? Don’t be that guy. The question asker will walk away politely, but everyone is thinking the same thing - this presenter is full of shit. Nobody will say this straight to your face, but everyone is thinking it, and wondering who you are selling drugs to for funding.
The belief that only Americans think they are exceptional
Roughly 360 million years ago the carboniferous period started. This was the age of lignin - a 50 million year long span where plants dominated the planet and produced metric shittons of what can only be described as the plant equivalent of Styrofoam. Lignin, at the time, was an invincible substance. Fungi and bacteria hadn’t yet developed the ability to break down lignin, so when a tree died it just sort of sat there doing nothing until it got buried under more dead trees, eventually forming peat bogs. It was trees on trees on trees for as far as the eye could see.
Did the trees ever stop and consider whether lignin was sustainable? No. They just kept shitting out more and more lignin, spreading it all over the planet for everything else to deal with. And this didn’t happen for thousands of years, it happened for millions of years. Millions of years of plants being assholes.
I think it’s fitting that after such a long period of fucking up the planet, trees are getting their karma returned. We dig up the coal and push it back into the atmosphere and force current trees to deal with it. That’s right, trees, you put all this shit here in the first place and now you’re gonna reap what you’ve sown (literally).