I am supposed to present my work at a technical conference with mostly software/network scientists or engineers and my work is centred around a mathematical model, a MILP, and the related performance evaluations with it. I'm a little confused about whether to present the mathematical model in its full detail (with all the constraints) or just explain using bullets about the constraints in the model and completely skip the mathematical notations.

I find it really hard to decide either of these options and I would love to know your experiences in presenting your work to someone not related to that field. I've observed at some presentations about some of the audience being a little bummed out or not showing much interest in it. But, it would be foolish on my part to presume that whole audience is averse to math. So, I'd like to strike a fine balance between both these themes so as to not to disappoint myself and ensure the audience understands the content. Some of your comments or real-life experiences may come in very handy for my presentation. Oh, and btw, I use beamer for preparing my presentation.

  • whether to present the mathematical model in its full detail You need to consider the time constraint.
    – Nobody
    Sep 23, 2016 at 7:43
  • the presentation must not exceed 20 mins and i'd probably having <25 slides but atleast 5 of them dedicated for the model
    – crypto
    Sep 23, 2016 at 7:45
  • 1
    In environmental sciences, a 20min talk with 25 slides would be doomed right from the start. Sep 23, 2016 at 8:13
  • I agree with @JensTierling. I think probably in any subject, a 20 min talk will not allow you to explain a math model in full detail unless your model is extremely simple to understand.
    – Nobody
    Sep 23, 2016 at 8:19
  • 1
    In 20 minutes you can talk about perhaps 12-14 slides (not counting title slide). Introduce the math, hit the core of the math in several slides, high level of performance evaluation, then the data on performance evaluations. Consider the talk a teaser, to make people talk to you and read the paper to get all the details. You only have time for the most important few bits.
    – Jon Custer
    Sep 23, 2016 at 14:08

2 Answers 2


We can be sure you do not have more than 20-25 minutes for your presentation. As you implied, in such conferences you have to satisfy the novice audience along with the most professional one. So it is highly recommended that you try to present for all of the audience in proper time limits.

In my opinion, SOMETIMES it is necessary to get into some details in order to show the professionals what you did (in reputable conferences mostly). Also you should not make your ordinary audiences bored. So you can show the beginners the big picture such as ideas, examples, etc. (not so much detail) and in some few slides you may want to show some details for your professional audiences, though you do not have too much time for that and you should consider the time limits seriously.

All in all, do not stick in details you give a fair chance no one will care about it. But it does not mean you should skip every detail. Also, try to use your colleagues ideas and feedback in your PRE-PRESENTATION practice about these matters. In my opinion, they are the most reliable resources for us. I myself, really care about my friends and colleagues comments before my presentations or even my paper submissions.

And finally it might be worthy to take a look at How to Present a Paper at an Academic Conference. Moreover, It is great to know that you are using LaTex for your presentation.


The way I think of it is the following: you are not teaching a class, your goal is not to provide all of the details, but get people interested in following up with you personally.

You can skip a lot of background and details. Just give the high level summary of your model and what you accomplished in a fun and engaging way. Maybe tell a personal story about how you discovered the model, or one specific cool application/results. Whatever. Just keep it simple and short without too much technical detail, not too imposing, and be friendly. Anyone interested in the topic will approach you afterward to ask more questions and get contact information.

A conference is more about networking with people in your field (or even outside of your field! interdisciplinary collaboration is a good thing) than knowledge transfer. Good luck!


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