How to prepare a lecture

I’ve been preparing for the first of three lectures I’m scheduled to give this year. I like lecturing, as I always learn something, and I’m a bit of a ham.

So, I’ve spent the last several days preparing for a talk.

Here are the steps:
Decide what you’re going to speak about. (Done).
Get literature, review, and make an initial outline. (Done).
Find out how long you have to speak. (Hmmm).
Make a lecture. Lots of PowerPoint slides. (Done).

Step Three is where I went off the rails. I thought I was speaking for an hour, and I discovered, tonight, that I have only 30 minutes. I’ve got 89 slides, and they’re not all one-liners.

So, now I need to pare it down a bit. By half.

Lesson learned. Anybody need some ‘surplus’ Powerpoint slides?

Update: The talk went well, though I went about 5 minutes over. Still too many slides.


  1. That always happens to me, too. I usually end up making lots of Powerpt slides. Here’s something about preparation I’m still thinking about.

  2. Aerospace Genius says:

    If you really enjoy speaking, just present the first half and finish with a teaser about the dramatic conclusion you will present next time.

  3. Maybe send your extra slides over the The skwib: for his “Lost Powerpoint Slides” series.

  4. Sorry,

    I’m still suffering from powerpoint poisoning myself. The class I am teaching requires a five minute presentation by the students. So far I’m 0-15 as far as the students meeting the time requirement.

  5. I talked to someone recently that was in the audience at your first presentation. They said you we informative and hilarious, even with only 1/2 your slides. Wouldn’t expect anything less.

  6. Jim in Texas says:

    Very important point, more than 8 slides is a briefing killer. No more than 10 – 15 slides for a formal presentation.

    I use to work for a General Officer in the Pentagon who sat through briefings and presentations every day. As his Senior NCO (E-9) my job was to brief new briefer/presenters who had not briefed the General before (usually 01s -04s).

    My briefing was this

    *Convey only the essential information required for the General to make rational decisions

    *Do not use more than 8 slides

    *Do not go over your allotted time (usually 15 mins)

    *Do not use Powerpoint presentations that:

    #fade in
    #fade out
    #use ANY fancy transitions
    #make noises
    #have ANY animation
    #employ any cartoon characters
    #could, even remotely, be termed “cute”

    I finished my briefing with the caveat that if the briefer failed to meet every one of these requirements then the General would have the briefer neutered.

    Usually the junior officers O1s and O2s would go pale and dash back to their office for critically need revisions. Most senior O3s and O4s might delete one or two slides and that was it.

    I don’t recall more than 2 – 3 briefings that failed to meet the requirements. While forced sterilization might have been a boon to mankind they were beyond the General’s authority…..although his verbal castrations were almost as bad as the actual event.

  7. Hmm, Generals and general medical audiences want different things. I find changing slides about every thirty seconds keeps (nearly) everyone awake.

    I don’t do ‘fade ins’, but the ‘magically appearing text and the occasional video’ do make it in.

    When worlds collide.

  8. Worst thing professors can do is go long on lectures.

    My time is more valuable than yours…trust me.

    I kid…I kid… (sort of)