In the past when I've given presentations at my lab and conferences, I've not had to deal with this problem. But at my new institution I'm constantly dealing with the following phenomena.
I'm constantly being asked questions that will be answered later in the slides.
First try, I tried top down approach. So I started with the overall problem. I work in AI, so in my particular situation, I start off by saying this is the problem we're trying to solve, here's the overall architecture and now let's analyze the individual components. But then, I'm constantly bombarded with, well what about this component, what about this metric, can you go deeper into just that one component - I don't understand the mechanics behind it, etc. And all these questions will be answered later on. But no one seems to wait to see what the next slides are going to be.
Second try, I tried bottom up approach. "Here are all the individual tools you'll need to understand the overall architecture. Here are the metrics, here are individual mathematical concepts, etc. Now, let's see how these are incorporated into a larger framework." But before I can explain what the larger frameworks are, at every slide, they're constantly asking, wait, why is this being used, why are you talking about this, etc etc.
I understand questions arise and I can simply say I'll cover it in the next few slides. But there are sooo many questions being constantly asked and it completely throws off the presentation because constant tangents are being drawn and one person's question confuses another person. This isn't a classroom setting, it's more of a lab setting.
How can I get around this? The only solution I can think of is to have a little box on each slide, right about the page number that has the title of the next page.
Any advice on dealing with this would be very helpful!
Update: After listening to everyone's suggestion, the following tips really helped solve this problem.
- Preparing slides to control the conversation. Focusing on only what I prepared instead of making all encompassing slides. For example, if I want to convey the training procedure of a neural network, then only have details regarding input, output, architecture(not every detail, just overview), and the loss functions. Stating "I used equation 'x' because it does will in situations 'a' and 'b'," instead of pasting the actual equations and inciting more questions for understanding every detail of the equation (as was happening previously). But I keep more detailed notes in the appendix slides in case anyone has a very specific question.
- If someone does have a very specific question, then I can refer them to the appendix of these slides and say "Thank you, that's a great question. I have lots of information regarding that in the appendix of these slides. But due to time constraints, let's take that conversation offline."
- Sending the audience the slides and notes before your talk so that people can review the slides before hand and better prepare their thoughts before asking random left-field questions during the actual presentation. This doesn't work in conferences, but definitely helps in lab settings.
- When stating a key concept in a slide that hasn't been addressed previously, I have a small textbox that says "will be covered in upcoming slides" in red lettering. This seemed to curtail a lot of questions as the audience no longer feels anxiety over not understanding something on the slide.
- Right after the title slide, I had a "goals of today's talk" slide in which I stated "goal is not to explain every detail of a particular technique. Rather present overview and my adaptation of it."
Disclaimer: the above suggestions work great if you're presenting at an internal team conference amongst peers. For example, an R&D lab at a tech company (my situation) or in an academic lab setting. Doesn't go great in a conference, but the audience are generally kinder in such public avenues.