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Bad Presentation Bingo: 24 things to avoid when talking to public

Bad presentations abound, but it’s particularly egregious when presenting to public audiences. Text-heavy slides? Score! Confusing graphics? Score! Too many slides? Score! Have fun at your next presentation with Bad Presentation Bingo, a game developed by Monica Metzler, president of the Illinois Science Council. Check out the game…

If you don’t know Bingo, it’s a game of chance, with a random 5×5 matrix of squares. With real bingo, a caller calls out the squares, and when you have a line of 5 in a row, you win. With bad presentation bingo, your presenter slowly bores you to death, and once they do 5 things poorly, you win. Bad presentation bingo is a close relative of another fun conference game known as “Buzzword bingo.”

Metzler created ‘Bad Presentation Bingo’ a few years ago. She says her inspiration came from sitting through a number of, as she puts it, ”challenging scientific presentations.”  The purpose of the Bingo is ”to encourage scientists to be considerate of their audiences … by paying attention to their presentation’s style and format as much as to its content.” Here’s the full game, or you can download a PDF here:

Here’s some reminders, from page 2 of the PDF.

Humans remember things best when conveyed in the form of a compelling story. No one remembers a deluge of facts – that’s more like a shopping list. Science discoveries, and the scientific process, are good mystery stories. Make sure your talk has characters and a plot and that it follows a vivid and memorable storyline... Scholarly papers and grant proposals require specific terminology – talking to the public does not… PowerPoint would seem to be mandatory for presentations, but it’s not. It’s just a tool, like a pipette or a buzz saw, and when used improperly it causes confusion and pain… Be enthusiastic, not a wallflower. Be engaging, not monotonous. And don’t overstay your welcome thereby avoiding questions. Consider your presentation the start of a conversation.

Metzler says anybody is welcome to use the Bingo, as long as they credit it to her or the Illinois Science Council. Ms. Metzler is working on a presentation based on this, and plans to lead workshops on presentation methods in the future.

Again, here’s the PDF file.

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