Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Judging presentation skills scale [UPDATE 2]

It's been a while since DrugMonkey reposted this meme, but the seminar I had to endure today reminded me of it and inspired me to invent my own scale for judging presentation skills. Not the science being presented, but the skill with which it is presented.

Herein I present Odyssey's

Presentation Impact Scale Summing Offending Factors Factor*,

hereafter shortened to PISSOFF.

It's very simple really,

PISSOFF = sum(Offending Factors)/(Total Number of Slides)


where Offending Factors are determined by, but are not limited to:

  • Total number of slides exceeding number of minutes allotted for presentation (Offending Factor = [Total Number of Slides - 0.9*(Minutes Allotted)]2)
  • Number of slides in presentation speaker skips over during presentation
  • Number of figures the speaker does not refer to/explain
  • Number of tables (or other sections) with text too small to read
  • Number of tables with too much text to read
  • Number of times speaker flicks backwards and forwards through slides in order to find the one he wants to talk about
  • Number of slides that have nothing to do with the topic being presented
  • Not addressing the audience (+10 to 20 depending upon severity)
  • Mumbling (+10 to 20 depending upon severity)
  • Assuming everyone in the audience is familiar with the background of the topic (+10 to 20 depending upon severity)
  • Presenting more than one story (+20 for the first additional story, +40 for the second, +1000 for the third and subsequent stories)
  • Speaker waving the laser-pointer around like a madman (+5 to 10 depending upon severity)
  • Use of yellow on a white background (+10 per instance)
  • Use of red text on a blue background (+10 per slide)
  • Using canned Powerpoint backgrounds (+10 for simple backgrounds up to +40 for complex backgrounds)
  • Use of canned Powerpoint background that is animated (+200)
  • Excessive use of animation (+10 to +50 depending upon severity)
  • Speaking with their back to the audience (+20)
  • Number of "in case they ask that question" slides appended to the end of the presentation
  • Running over the allotted time (add 10x[Number of Minutes Over]2/(Minutes Allotted))
  • Speaker appears bored (+100)
  • Use of the phrase "this is really fascinating work, but I don't have time to tell you about it", or anything similar (+20 per instance)
  • Figures/movies that don't work because the speaker didn't bother to try them out beforehand (+10 per instance)


Feel free to suggest more Offending Factors. I know there are many, many more - I'm too brain-dead to think of them right now.

The PISSOFF scale runs from zero for an excellent speaker to greater than one for a speaker who should never, ever be asked to present again.

I estimate yesterday's speaker would have a PISSOFF score of about 0.9...




* Yes, yes, I know it sounds horribly redundant etc.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

I love the severity talk ... sounds naughty!

My latest big pissoff is when talkers talk to the screen with their backs to the audience. It also deadens their voice.

Dr. No said...

Fuck, THANK YOU. This criteria was much needed. Can we add an automatic deduction for using canned Powerpoint backgrounds? The one with fucking mountains on the bottom is killing me.

Professor in Training said...

Excellent! I'm especially impressed with the PISSOFF acronym - come on, fess up ... how long did it take you to come up with that little gem!!?

The only thing I would add to the list of Offending Factors is the number of "in case they ask me that question" slides the presenter has tucked away after the acknowledgements ... those little beauties usually take a long time to sift through.

Prof-like Substance said...

Ugh, the slide skip is the worst. Why the fuck is it in there if you're going to skip it or why didn't you realize that 27 slides for a ten minute talk is too many?

I've also been to a recent talk honoring an older person in the field who never took their thumb off the laser pointer and had audience members dodging possible blindness the whole time.

I think we need to format talks into something similar to the Gong Show. It would make it a lot more interesting and we wouldn't have to suffer through shitty talks anymore. GONG, goodbye.

Odyssey said...

Anon., Dr. No and PiT:
I've updated the post with your suggestions (plus a couple more I thought of last night).

PiT:
I thought up the acronym during the awful talk I sat through yesterday. I can't say how long it took since I was trying to pay some attention to the speaker.

PLS:
A Gong Show format is exactly what we need.

Goose said...

I've got a few...

- Looking at a slide and clearly not knowing what it's about (either because it's an old presentation, unpracticed, or their underling made the presentation)

- Use of the phrase "this is really fascinating work, but I don't have time to tell you about it"... then don't mention it!

- Pictures/Movies that don't work because you didn't bother to try them out beforehand. I know it's not always possible, but when it is you should check them.

- Finally, the disinterested presenter (you know, the one who is clearly less interested to be there than the audience, and who is obviously trying to get out of any future speaking invite).

Odyssey said...

Goose:
Good ones. I've added them. This is getting to be a very long list...

Odyssey said...

I should note that the form of the PISSOFF equation makes a poor PISSOFF score much more likely for shorter presentations. This is as it should be - good short presentations (10-15 minute) are much more difficult to give and any offenses are magnified due to the short length. One can "get away with" a few infractions in a longer (45-50 minute) presentation because audience members are likely to forget some of the less offensive ones over the course of the presentation.

Anonymous said...

"I know this figure/table doesn't show up very well but..." 20 points

Pictures of cats when you're not talking about cats. 10 points

Lime green on a white background. 10 points plus 10 points for each member of the audience who starts bleeding from the eyes.

Gentlemen: Furiously playing with the contents of your pockets. Remember your groin is at eye level in many talk situations. Don't make people look at yours more than they have to already. 30 points.

Acknowledgement slides- 5 points. (only in a 10 minute talk- plenary speakers should probably have these).

Reading out an acknowledgement slide or putting your co-authors on the acknowledgement slide. 10 points each infraction.

Taking a question from the front row (usually spoken too quietly for the rest of audience to hear) and then not repeating it for the rest of the listeners. 5 points.

Having a back and forth conversation with the front row questioner with the audience hearing only half the conversation. 20points

N / A said...

My pet peeve is "Oh, I see have X more minutes!" penalty = X^2. If you can end early, your audience will not, I guarantee, be disappointed!

Anita said...

Too True!

And too many 'um's' etc, like they didn't practice what they were going to say.

It's really a sad state of affairs when people can't present.

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