Monthly Archives: October 2016

Planning the Length of Your Talk

For every one minute you exceed your allotted time, 10% more of the audience wants to kill you.

I am a stickler for timing, and I am typically incredibly annoyed when presenters cannot plan well and run overtime. When you run overtime, you are implicitly telling the audience (and any subsequent presenters) that their time is not valuable to you. So my first advice this week is to plan an appropriate presentation length.

Your prepared talk is only one of four things that will happen in your allotted time. The other three things are introductions/setup, questions during the talk, and questions after the talk. When you first take the stage, any introduction and preparation of slides must be considered in your timing. If you are in academia, your talk may be frequently interrupted with clarifying questions or interjections from the crowd. Such questions may be held until the end of the talk for certain kinds of talks. And then, at the end, there will be audience questions about the topic and talk.

If you use all your time on your talk and get no useful questions, your talk has been a failure. Questions can alert you to holes in your current research. Questions can illustrate future avenues of fruitful research. A lack of questions signifies that you either did not interest the audience or you did not leave enough time for questions.

So how much talk should you plan for? Let’s assume you are giving a 22 minute academic presentation. Leave about 5 minutes at the end for questions. Assume 1 minute setup and 3 minutes of interruptions during the talk. That leaves 13 minutes. Plan a talk that you can comfortably give in 13 minutes. Without being rushed. That’s not a long time. You won’t be showing all the details of your research. But at a conference where attendees can hear 20 talks a day, they won’t remember all the details anyway. Your goal is to present motivation, basic approach, and interesting results in order to get other people interested in your research.

If no one interrupts you (saving three minutes), have some backup material on the next most interesting aspect of your work to show.

If no one asks questions, start the Q&A session by asking for advice on a specific aspect of the research. Don’t just let the five minute Q&A time wither unused. If you get too many questions and are out of time, offer to take more questions offline after the presentation.

For a talk that won’t be interrupted (questions at the end, if at all, like a TED talk), here is the timing suggestion from the TED book: “Your finish line is your time times 0.9. Write and rehearse a talk that is nine-tenths the time you were given: 1 hour = 54 minutes, 10 minutes = 9, 18 minutes = 16:12. Then get on stage and ignore the clock. You’ll have breathing room to pace yourself, to pause, to screw up a little, to milk the audience’s response. Plus your writing will be tighter and you’ll stand out from the other speakers who are dancing to the rhythms of the same time limit.”

Presentation Week 2016

I’m going to start a yearly tradition. For one week in October/November, I will create a week’s worth of posts about giving presentations. I am constantly striving to improve my own presentation ability, and I think a lot of researchers need help to present their research effectively. Presentation Week will occur in advance of the INFORMS annual meeting in early/mid November, which is my main academic conference. Posts will be archived here.

Here are the posts for this year:
Monday: Planning the Length of Your Talk
Tuesday: Memorize your talk?
Wednesday: Slide Do’s and Don’ts (probably a post I’ll re-visit each year)
Thursday: Handling Questions Gracefully
Friday: Focus on What You Want the Audience to Remember

Much of the material I use comes from two books I read this year: TED Talks and Presentation in Action.

Book Review- TED Talks

TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking
by Chris Anderson, 2016


While the book is geared toward TED-style talks, it does have useful pieces of advice for any presenter. You just have to see a bit past the inflated discussion of presentation motivation. Not every talk’s topic is so all-important/all-consuming as to be your life’s work and worthy of a national audience. I am giving four talks at an upcoming conference. While I think they’re all awesome, I don’t make the mistake of believing each is life-altering.

I will use some of the advice from this book in future posts. I do suggest academic presenters read it; again, take it with a grain of salt, though. Here are some quick quotes from the book:
-“Your number-one mission as a speaker is to take something that matters deeply to you and to rebuild it inside the minds of your listeners.”
-From Sir Ken Robinson: “There’s an old formula for writing essays that says a good essay answers three questions: What? So what? Now what? [My talks are] a bit like that.”
-“To make an impact, there has to be a human connection. You can give the most brilliant talk, with crystal-clear explanations and laser-sharp logic, but if you don’t first connect with the audience, it won’t land.”
-From Salman Khan: “Be yourself. The worst talks are the ones where someone is trying to be someone they aren’t. If you are generally goofy, then be goofy. If you are emotional, then be emotional. The one exception to that is if you are arrogant and self-centered. Then you should definitely pretend to be someone else.”
-“Many speakers use their slides as memory nudges… What you mustn’t do, of course, is to use PowerPoint as a full outline of your talk and deliver a series of text-crammed slides. That’s awful. But if you have elegant images to accompany each key step of your talk, this approach can work very well, provided that you’ve thought about each transition. The images act as terrific memory nudges, though you may still need to carry a card with additional notes.”

There’s a useful appendix at the back of the book that contains all the TED talks that the author, who organizes the TED movement, references. You could watch those for inspiration.

NFL Picks – Week 8 of 2016

It’s good that I got my picks up late last week and you didn’t have time to follow them, because they didn’t pan out very well.

Overall Against the Spread: 39-48
Week 2: 8-8
Week 3: 10-6
Week 4: 6-9
Week 5: 5-8 (1 push)
Week 6: 7-6 (2 pushes)
Week 7: 3-11 (1 game not bet)

Here are my week 8 predictions, with the current line in parentheses:
Jacksonville Jaguars at Tennessee Titans (-3.5): Predicting 19.5-24.7. Bet on the Tennessee Titans.
Washington Redskins at Cincinnati Bengals (-3.0): Predicting 21.4-23.4. Bet on the Washington Redskins.
Oakland Raiders at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-1.5): Predicting 23.6-24.5. Bet on the Oakland Raiders.
Detroit Lions at Houston Texans (-2.5): Predicting 21.7-22.7. Bet on the Detroit Lions.
Kansas City Chiefs at Indianapolis Colts (+2.5): Predicting 23.6-25.3. Bet on the Indianapolis Colts.
New York Jets at Cleveland Browns (+3.5): Predicting 22.3-24.4. Bet on the Cleveland Browns.
Green Bay Packers at Atlanta Falcons (-2.5): Predicting 23.6-28.4. Bet on the Atlanta Falcons.
New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills (+6.5): Predicting 20.7-23.0. Bet on the Buffalo Bills.
Seattle Seahawks at New Orleans Saints (+3.0): Predicting 22.6-23.0. Bet on the New Orleans Saints.
San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos (-5.0): Predicting 20.6-24.9. Bet on the San Diego Chargers.
Arizona Cardinals at Carolina Panthers (-2.5): Predicting 23.4-22.8. Bet on the Arizona Cardinals.
Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys (-4.5): Predicting 20.7-22.3. Bet on the Philadelphia Eagles.
Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears (+4.5): Predicting 21.1-17.3. Bet on the Chicago Bears.

NFL Picks – Week 7 of 2016

Slow to get the picks up this week due to vacation. Putting them up after the Thursday night game but before the Sunday games.

Overall Against the Spread: 36-37
Week 2: 8-8
Week 3: 10-6
Week 4: 6-9
Week 5: 5-8 (1 push)
Week 6: 7-6 (2 pushes)

Here are my week 7 predictions, with the current line in parentheses:
Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers (-7.5): Predicting 18.4-24.7. Bet on the Chicago Bears.
New York Giants at Los Angeles Rams (+2.5): Predicting 19.6-21.8. Bet on the Los Angeles Rams.
Oakland Raiders at Jacksonville Jaguars (-1.0): Predicting 23.3-24.3. Line is correct; do not bet.
Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals (-10.5): Predicting 20.8-25.8. Bet on the Cleveland Browns.
New Orleans Saints at Kansas City Chiefs (-5.0): Predicting 22.9-27.7. Bet on the New Orleans Saints.
Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins (+3.0): Predicting 23.5-20.7. Bet on the Miami Dolphins.
Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans (-3.0): Predicting 22.4-26.0. Bet on the Tennessee Titans.
Baltimore Ravens at New York Jets (-2.0): Predicting 21.3-20.1. Bet on the Baltimore Ravens.
Washington Redskins at Detroit Lions (-1.0): Predicting 23.4-25.8. Bet on the Detroit Lions.
Minnesota Vikings at Philadelphia Eagles (+3.0): Predicting 18.3-21.7. Bet on the Philadelphia Eagles.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at San Francisco 49ers (-1.5): Predicting 23.4-25.8. Bet on the San Francisco 49ers.
San Diego Chargers at Atlanta Falcons (-4.5): Predicting 25.5-30.3. Bet on the Atlanta Falcons.
New England Patriots at Pittsburgh Steelers (+7.0): Predicting 21.3-22.4. Bet on the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals (-1.0): Predicting 17.6-22.3. Bet on the Arizona Cardinals.
Houston Texans at Denver Broncos (-9.0): Predicting 16.2-23.2. Bet on the Houston Texans.

Book Review- Rich Dad Poor Dad

Rich Dad Poor Dad: What The Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not!
by Robert Kiyosaki, 1997


Maria and I listened to this on tape together. I think it’s a great introduction to using your creativity to build your personal wealth. Learn the difference between assets and liability (in both abstract and practical terms) and learn how to focus on building assets in your life. If you are interested in owning real estate, the author includes a lot of examples about wealth-generation through real estate.

Whether you read the book or not, I would suggest playing the Cashflow Classic game by the author. It can be played for free online here.

Book Review – The Road

The Road
by Cormac McCarthy, 2006


Post-apocalyptic novel about a man and his boy traveling and surviving in a world in which the sun is blacked out by ash and food no longer grows. Very emotional. I thought the man’s actions rang true throughout, and it was very well-written.

I don’t really like trigger warnings. However, to put it nicely: has aspects of uncivilized behavior that may cause discomfort.

NFL Picks – Week 6 of 2016

Overall Against the Spread: 29-31
Week 2: 8-8
Week 3: 10-6
Week 4: 6-9
Week 5: 5-8 (1 push)

Here are my week 6 predictions, with the current line in parentheses:
Denver Broncos at San Diego Chargers (+3.5): Predicting 23.5-24.1. Bet on the San Diego Chargers.
Cincinnati Bengals at New England Patriots (-8.5): Predicting 16.3-23.3. Bet on the Cincinnati Bengals.
Cleveland Browns at Tennessee Titans (-7.0): Predicting 18.2-25.6. Bet on the Tennessee Titans.
Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints (+3.0): Predicting 24.8-27.6. Bet on the New Orleans Saints.
Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Redskins (+2.5): Predicting 24.2-20.5. Bet on the Philadelphia Eagles.
Los Angeles Rams at Detroit Lions (-3.0): Predicting 19.3-24.1. Bet on the Detroit Lions.
San Francisco 49ers at Buffalo Bills (-7.5): Predicting 18.9-27.7. Bet on the Buffalo Bills.
Baltimore Ravens at New York Giants (-3.0): Predicting 17.6-20.0. Bet on the Baltimore Ravens.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Miami Dolphins (+7.5): Predicting 24.4-20.7. Bet on the Miami Dolphins.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Chicago Bears (-2.5): Predicting 20.5-23.7. Bet on the Chicago Bears.
Kansas City Chiefs at Oakland Raiders (-1.0): Predicting 21.5-26.4. Bet on the Oakland Raiders.
Atlanta Falcons at Seattle Seahawks (-6.0): Predicting 23.2-24.3. Bet on the Atlanta Falcons.
Dallas Cowboys at Green Bay Packers (-4.0): Predicting 21.5-23.5. Bet on the Dallas Cowboys.
Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans (-3.0): Predicting 22.5-25.0. Bet on the Indianapolis Colts.
New York Jets at Arizona Cardinals (-7.5): Predicting 19.2-27.1. Bet on the Arizona Cardinals.