Talking Tips

Resources for scientific presentations recommended by DIALOG and DISCCRS participants

Compiled by C. S. Weiler
Last updated: October 15, 2005

DIALOG and DISCCRS symposium participants are required to present their PhD and current research interests in both oral and poster format. Over the years, past participants have been invited to share their favorite resources. Submissions include links to webpages, journal citations, books, and "hard copies". Advice ranges from tips to undergrads presenting at scientific meetings for the first time to pleas directed at senior presenters. Suggestions of other resources are welcome. Please send recommendations to

Highest Recommendation:

The Oceanography Society has updated (2005) "Scientifically Speaking - Tips for Preparing and Delivering Scientific Talks and Using Visual Aids" Copies are available from the TOS Office ( and this publication is also available as a downloadable PDF from the TOS website:

Other resources:

Advice on Designing Scientific Posters by Colin Purrington at Swarthmore College provides a thorough set of guidlines in an amusing style. It includes a template for easy use. has compiled a nice, short, to-the-point list of suggestions for oral presentations.

Robert R.H. Anholt's 2001 book, Dazzle 'Em With Style: An Introduction to the Art of Oral Scientific Presentation was the most frequently cited resource. (Freeman, W. H. and Company, 2001. ISBN: 0716725835 , $11.95). Anhold has very kindly made a summary available on the web under the name Dazzle 'em With Style.

The University of Southern California's Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies and the Annenberg School for Communication has put together a video called "Talking Science: The Elusive Art of the Scientific Talk". It currently costs $39.95 and may be ordered by contacting

Eurpean Federation of Catalysis Societies, has put published a very useful paper on How to give successful oral and poster presentations, written by J.W. Niemantsverdriet. .

American Society of Limnology and Oceanography has put togethe some useful guidelines on their website.

Foote, A.L. 2002., How we present our science:Tips for students. Society of Wetland Scientists Bulletin 19(3): 13-16, has some great pointers for students presenting at SWS meetiings, based on his experience as a judge for the SWS student awards. The advice is quite universal.

Union of Concerned Scientists has put together some tips for communicating with the public about climate change.

Methods for use in Freshwater Ecology is a compilation of tips for both written and oral presentations from Nebraska Wesleyan University.

Dorothy Carnegie has put together The Quick and Easy Way to Effective Speaking. This is a summary of her 1962 book, based on Dale Carnegie's Public Speaking and Influencing Men in Business from 1931. Still good advice after all these years.

Henry H. Fisher, 2003, put together a presentation on How to Give a Speech for the 40th AIGP meeting.

I. Lee has compiled a Research Guide for Students with a chapter on Presentation Tips for Public Speaking based on extensive experience with Toastmasters.

Dennison, W.C., A. Jones and T. Saxby have put together The art of scientific communication: Using Power Point Effectively. It is designed for REU students at teh University of Maryland, but applicable to anyone. There is even some nuts-and-bolts information on importing, scanning, etc. Unfortunately, it takes a long time to load so be prepared to wait if you try to open it..

Jeff Radel has posted a series of on-line turorials he has presented as part of a graduate course. He also has a 21-page Guided Tour.

Edward Tufte writes books and speaks on presentation and communication. Doug Marble put together "10 tips based on Tufte's page and a web search on 'effective speaking".. Craig S.Kaplan wrote up some notes on a presentation Tufts gave in Seattle.

Valiela, I. 2001. Doing Science: Design, Analysis, and Communication of Scientific Research. Oxford University Press. New York, NY. ISBN 0-19-507962-0. This one comes recommended as having chapters on both oral and written presentation of information, with detailed and very specific advice on types of graphics and tables that are effective, etc.

Advice from Dr. Joe Resnick: When I give an oral presenation....I have two policies:
1. Always start with a story...or get the audience relaxed....and then deliver the message.
2. Walk in like you own the place...walk you just 'sold' it!
These have always worked for me. Public all about 'mindset'...I have learned. When you are the authority (and the speaker has to believe this...). Otherwise...the people in the audience would be up where you are (speaking)...and you'd be down in the gallery, listening. Another tip...just be yourself...relax...get the message across in a cool, logical method. As your skills/comfort levels increase...then you can develop things like, tambre, rythm, delivery style, etc. Although, I alway focus on something in the room/auditorium to help me "project" my speaking voice...and to keep my attention focused and my intonation not too loud...not too soft....

How NOT to give a Talk: Several people sent in some tips on how NOT to talk--these are fun to read, though possibly not quite so helpful as the above.

Janzen, D. H. Plea from a symposium goer. Daniel Janzen is one of the best scientific writers I know. He is worth reading.

Mann, J.D. (ca. 1985) updated by K.R. Sharrock. How Real Scientists Give Talks.

Wolcott, T.G. Mortal sins in oral presentations or How to give a talk if you never want to talk again.

Acknowledgements: On behalf of all those who will find this compilation useful, I thank the following individuals for submitting resources: Michael Ahrens, Val Barber, Mary Batson, Erla Bjork, John Brawley, Al Christian, Daniel Conde, Gary Ervin, Baylor Fox-Kemper, Elizabeth Hinchley, Gary Irvin, Kevin Kroeger, Douglas Marble, Bea Mourifiño, Sasi Nayar, Judy O'Neil, Erla Ornolfsdottir, Aisling O'Sullivan, John Quinlin, Joe Resnick, David Smith, Kam Tang, Jeff Warren, Andy Zimmerman


DIALOG is made possible through U.S. National Science Foundation (Antarctic Biology and Medicine, Arctic Natural Sciences, Biological Oceanography, Ecology, Ecosystem Studies, and International programs) grant #9813932 to Whitman College, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Coastal Ocean and National Sea Grant College Programs) grant #16OP1435 to Whitman College and Office of Naval Research (Biological and Chemical Oceanography Program) grant #N00014-98-1-05 to Whitman College with interagency transfers from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Ocean Biogeochemistry and Atmospheric Chemistry & Ecology Branch of Mission to Planet Earth Programs). Support is also provided by the U.S. Department of Energy (Office of Science, BER) through #DE-FG02-03ER63606 to Whitman College