By Nick,

I’m just back from a week long presentation. My talk went well, the networking was great and I had a fun time. The sessions in my field were also excellent. But…

It wasn’t that great a conference, and a lot of that was down to some really dodgy presentations – especially in some of the sessions that weren’t directly related to my field, but were still of a passing interest. A bad presentation is hell on earth. I hate them, I switch off, I don’t care, often I sleep. I know I should try, I know that a bad presentation is not the same as bad science (although there was plenty of correlation = causation going on) and that I should really try hard. But in a long conference keeping up attention is hard. So a bad presentation is not exactly the best way to get your message across to me.

Now, there are plenty of blogs and websites out there which will explain how to give a good presentation, so I won’t go into the details. Instead, I’ll give you a way of staving off the boredom in those terrible talks. Next time you go to a conference, print one of these and take it with you, and play Bad Talk Bingo! Compare with your friends in other sessions and see who had the worst time.



monotonic voice

distracting background photograph

changing the title to something boring


Comic Sans

skipping unnecessary slides

turning back on the audience

reading from notes


mentioning lunch, before the end of the session

PowerPoint’s slide transitions

“As we all know…”

convener unwilling to keep session on time

running massively over time

figures with panels not used in talk

correlation = causation

Font size too small


acronyms not defined


lack of contrast between text and slide

inappropriate dress

“As you can see…”

clip art

reading from the slide