Good transitions make science talks INTERESTING!

As part of my final preparation for a presentation at Thomas Jefferson University (Philadelphia, PA), I found this great little article titled “How to Read a Scientific Paper” written by John W. Little and Roy Parker at University of Arizona. (Especially for young scientists this is a “must read”).

What I found really interesting was the section “Difficulties in Reading a Paper”. I have said the very same thing about consequences of poorly organized talks.

Here’s what the author says: (I added the bold below for emphasis.)

“Bad writing has several consequences for the reader… logical connections are often left out. Instead of saying why an experiment was done, or what ideas were being tested, the experiment is simply described.”

This paragraph could easily have been written about poorly developed scientific talks. I have noticed the same trouble spots; transitions are often left out. Typically a series are experiments are described with little, if any, connection between each step shown.

However, effective transitions are not only important for flow, but more importantly they are what make the science presentation INTERESTING!

All scientists are interested in the discovery process. The understanding of the journey. Why one idea lead to another. Why one method was chosen over another. What stumbling blocks were encountered? What were the “aha” moments? The answers to these questions are the fascinating part of scientific inquiry, The logical connections–not just the experiment described–is what makes it interesting. You need to be sure you audience understand why the ideas were being tested.

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