Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session


Students need permission from the instructor to enroll.


This course focuses on developing oral presentation skills through practice, self-evaluation, and in-class feedback. Topics include slide preparation, answering difficult questions, explaining technical details and presenting to a general audience. Students make approximately 10 short presentations over the duration of the course. Research for presentations appropriate for national meetings must be completed in advance.


For rehearsal talks, you should be prepared to take notes of what people suggest so that you’ll be able to do better for next time. Even after your ‘final’ version people will have comments, so you should still be ready to take notes. It is helpful to number your slides to help people in organizing and giving you feedback.

Conference Attire

On dates when you’re giving a presentation, as opposed to a rehearsal, you should dress as you would at a conference in your field. While there are scientists and conferences where very casual attire is appropriate, we will assume that you are looking for a job and thus want to dress on the nicer side of conference attendees. A suit and tie is not necessary, but jeans are not appropriate either.

Class Attendance and Punctuality

This class only works if everyone is an active participant. You are therefore expected to attend and to be on time at each session. Being on time means that you are ready to give your presentation at the scheduled start time. It is the responsibility of a speaker to ensure that their presentation will work properly with the equipment, that they have a pointer if they need one etc.


This is a graded course. Your grade depends on how much your presentation skills improve as well as your participation in class. Tardiness and absence will strongly affect your grade.


1 Introduction
2 Find good presentations and make presentation slides
3 Rehearsal of elevator talk
4 Presentation of elevator talk
5 Rehearsal of short talk
6 Presentation of short talk
7 Rehearsal of mid-length talk
8 Presentation of mid-length talk
9 The great debate, part 1
10 The great debate, part 2
11 AGU talks round 1

Course Info

As Taught In
Fall 2010
Learning Resource Types
Lecture Notes
Presentation Assignments