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Any standard presentation starts with an opening slide which displays the title of the presentation, name of the speaker and collaborators, affiliation and some attractive image.

Before any conference presentation the chair of the session usually tells the audience the name of the speaker and the title of the presentation. I have seen the following scenarios happen:

  • Speaker completely ignores the title slide and goes straight into the rest of presentation (assumes that after the chair gave the introduction there is no need to repeat his name/title)
  • Speaker gives an "extended version of the information". Example: "My name is X and today I will be talking about [insert more verbose version of the title]. I work in University U and collaborate with Y and Z". This can already serve as an introduction or an overview about what will be addressed during the presentation. (Should there be an overview slide for this instead?)

So, how important is the first slide of a presentation? What information should the speaker transmit in it? How much time should the speaker spend with it?

Does it matter if we are talking about a conference presentation vs invited presentation at an institute?

EDIT: Based on comments - I am aware that this question may be opinion-based but, as Dirk stated in the comments, the answer should be "based on how the different options are perceived by the audience", what impact the beginning of the presentation has in the audience and how it sets the rest of the presentation. Also, I should point that I am still in the beginning of my academic's career, and I still don't have a name that everyone will recognize straight away and immediately know what I do.

  • There are far too many possible correct answers, and it would seem to vary uniquely with the presenter and the situation. – EnergyNumbers Apr 23 '16 at 3:16
  • I usually don't like to vote to close as primarily opinion-based because opinions are the answers the OP is looking for. However, this question is really too much opinion-based. How to present the title slide is your choice, why ask us? – scaaahu Apr 23 '16 at 4:00
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    That's a very good question! Of course it's the speaker's choice, but it should be based on how the different options are perceived by the audience. Looking forward to more answers. – Dirk Apr 23 '16 at 5:14
  • I guess I don't do standard presentations, because my opening slide never has an attractive image (or an unattractive one). – Andreas Blass Apr 24 '16 at 2:02
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I've heard the following advice: When the people in the audience see somebody they don't know, they'll be asking themselves "What kind of guy is this?" for at least some minutes. I guess anybody does this, mainly subconscious. This implies that it is harder to convey technical information in the first minutes, since people work subconsciously to find out who you are and what they should think of you.

So when I start my presentation I always have at least three sentences that are not technical. This can be "Thanks to the chair for the (nice, warm) introduction.", "Thanks to the organizers (I prefer to give names here) for having me here (at this nice place/great session).", "My name is... and I will speak about... (collaboration with...)...". There could also be a sentence about the meeting in general or one that relates the talk to previous ones at the conference.

This may cost you one or two minutes which you loose for your precious technical content, but I think it's worth it if at least a few people in the audience don't know you already. If you don't spend these few sentences, the chance is higher that you'll loose these people from the very beginning. Anyway, conferences are (in my understanding) as much about people as they are about research. If I go home from a conference and didn't have had nice conversations and met a few new people, it wasn't a good meeting.

  • Thank you for the advice. It didn't even came to my mind that the seniority of the speaker may affect how the presentation should start. This is quite relevant to me. I also edited the question for clarification. – what_academia Apr 23 '16 at 9:43
  • Actually, it's not only the seniority. I've been to meetings as a postdoc where most people knew me already... – Dirk Apr 23 '16 at 9:52
  • Yes. Seniority would be better rephrased as having a recognizable name at the conference where you will give the talk. – what_academia Apr 23 '16 at 9:55
  • Generally good points, but I have (almost?) never said my name at the beginning of a talk and I would think it a little weird if someone did, especially right after they were introduced and have their name on the slide. Though I will say "This is joint work with ..." Maybe there is a different culture in our fields/conferences? – Kimball Apr 25 '16 at 13:07
  • @Kimball Actually it does not feel weird at all. Give it a try next time. Even people on TV regularly say their names although the audience surely know their names. If you say your full name yourself, you somehow relate a bit more with the audience. – Dirk Apr 25 '16 at 18:08
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My introduction words are:

Hello, I am < My Name >. I am going to present our current research on < Paper Name >. Before I start, I must remember to thank my coauthors < Coauthor names >; and also acknowledge the support of < Funding Org Names >

If the chair has already said my name, and the paper title, then I would be skipping the first sentence.

The slide should support this, and unlike all other slides in the presentation, conveys more information than what I say. For example I don't say my university name, because the logo conveys it better.

  • My Name (Bolded on slide)
  • Coauther Names
  • Paper title
  • Funding Org Names/Logos
  • University Names/Logos

I think you can skip date and conference name because your audience presumable knows when and where they are.

Unless you are obliged otherwise, this can be the only place you show the university and funding org logos/names. Which lets your slides be much more clean and minimal.

Side note: Never do an 'Table of contents' overview slide, unless you are doing something over an hour long. Something more like an 'abstract' is better, if your title alone doesn't convey enough.

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    +1 for "Never do an 'Table of contents' overview slide". I don't know how many times I have thought "What a waste of time!" to myself while listening to someone declare "I am going to start with an introduction (...) and after presenting the results, I will finally talk about my conclusions and point out some possibilities for future work." – O. R. Mapper Apr 23 '16 at 8:08
  • -1 for "Never do an 'Table of contents' overview slide". Mainly because you should never say never, but also because "Tell them what you're going to tell them. Tell them. Tell them what you told them." is one of the golden rules of presentation, pioneered by Aristotle himself. – Wetlab Walter Apr 23 '16 at 8:54
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    When I mentioned overview slide I was refering to a slide where you display what you will talk about. Such as, I will talk about A, B, C and D, and the slide has a relevant phrase about each one. Never a structure slide with "I will do introduction, then results, then conclusion, then future work", I agree that it is a waste of time doing that. – what_academia Apr 23 '16 at 9:48
  • Regarding the introduction words and title slide: extremely useful information. That is along the lines of what I think is most reasonable. Thank you for the information. – what_academia Apr 23 '16 at 9:51
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    J.J Your right, never say never. But I'ld like to see one a good example of on in a talk <1 hour long. They make sense if it is a multihour workshop, where multiple topics will be covered, but I really can't imagine anything <1 hour, with a single topic/speaker. Maybe if the work can be segment (eg Theortical Work, Practical Application in X, Practical Appilcation in Y, Practical Application in Z) so that people who are only interested in one pact can tune the irrelevant out? Worst I saw was a 3 minute talk (poster advert), that had a TOC slide. – Lyndon White Apr 23 '16 at 10:22
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What are you doing and why would you spend months of your life doing it.

  • If you are studying microorganisms found in the Baltic sea: why is the Baltic special? Why are the microorganisms interesting? What kind of information, in very broad terms, can they tell you?
  • If you introduce a new algorithm to process some data: what was the problem with the previous ones?

And so on. I have attended many talks where I get a fair idea of what they are doing, but I am none the wiser on why would that even be a thing. And I am sure they have their good reasons, but they are probably only evident to an expert in their work, not the general audience.

In short: you have between one and two minutes to convince the audience that your talk is worth listening to and why.

  • I don’t think this should be on the title slide – you should have regular slides entirely devoted to motivation. – Wrzlprmft Aug 12 '17 at 7:11

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