How much time to summarize your work?

I have a couple of presentations that I’m (suppose to be) working right now. The first one, is to turn my recently submitted paper into an hour long talk (which thankfully really means ~45 minutes). The second is to summarize all the research I’ve done, minus the most recent piece in about 10 minutes.

Ten minutes?! I keep going back and forth over whether I think this 10 minute limit is going to end up being too short or too long. As usual, it really comes down to how much detail I need to include. If it’s super high level, then I probably don’t even need 5 minutes. But as soon as I need to start explaining some of the results, well that’s when it can easily expand to fill a ton of time.

This talk is for my committee, to get them back up to speed on what I’ve spent my PhD doing, and where I am now. Which means, that it’s sort of a combination of very high level and very detailed explanations. Especially since, I’m hoping that between this talk and the longer presentation I’m creating, I’ll be able to convince them that I’ve actually done enough research and I should move to writing it all up.

And more importantly, I need to do this convincing without having to beg or appearing to beg. So it needs to be subtle, but not. And in their face, but not. With a small amount of please tell me I’m done so I can graduate and get out of here.

At the end of the day, I know I’ll just be happy with whatever I can put together. Because whether it manages to be perfect or not, it’s going to be followed by a (likely) long discussion on what I’ve done and where this imaginary bar of “enough” is versus where my work is (above? below? at?). And, from a couple of offhand comments my supervisor has made, I’m pretty sure he’ll be pushing hard for a minimum of at the bar and good enough. 

Now, I should probably move from thinking about these presentations to at least opening up PowerPoint…


One thought on “How much time to summarize your work?

  1. Ugh, I just gave/attempted to give a 5 min summary of stuff. It went over time (of course). Every time I make and give a presentation, I average 1 min per slide. You would think by now I would embrace this, and if my talk is supposed to be 5 minutes MAKE SURE I ONLY HAVE 5 slides. But no. (The talk went fine, it just reiterated how hard it is to compactly present results!)

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