Leslie Lamport

4 August 1979


1.  WHAT TO SAY(说什么

    – Don’t give your paper; the audience can’t take it.  If someone
      can understand in thirty minutes what it took you weeks to
      develop, then you’re in the wrong business.


另外分析一个句子If someone can understand in thirty minutes what it took you weeks to develop, then you’re in the wrong business.,这是一个同位语从句,what 是understand 的宾语,同时也是后面的句子的同位语。

    – Do advertise your paper.  The purpose of an automobile ad is
      to get potential customers to the showroom, not to give technical
      specifications.  The purpose of your talk is to get people who
      might be interested in your work to read the paper, not to save
      them the trouble of reading it.


    – Giving a good presentation is an art, requiring both practice
      and talent.  No rules can turn you into an artist, but the
      following suggestions might be helpful.

        1.  Describe simple examples rather than general results. 
            Try to make the examples much too simple — you will not

        2.  Don’t use formalism.  If your results cannot be described
            simply and informally, then there is no reason why anyone
            should be interested in them.

        3.  It is better to be inaccurate than incomprehensible.  The
            place for accuracy is in the paper.  (However, false
            advertising is unethical.)


    – Slides are effective.  Here are some suggestions for their proper
              1.  Don’t put too much on a slide — a picture of a thousand
            words is worthless.  For 8 x 11 slides, all letters should
            be at least 3/8 inch high, with plenty of blank space. 
            People in the back row have to read them too.

        2.  Slides should be neat and legible.  The listener isn’t
            your secretary; it’s not his job to decipher your

        3.  A rapid sequence of slides has a hypnotic effect.  Unless
            you are a licensed hypnotist, don’t use more than one slide
            per minute.
        – Time your talk.  Running over your allotted time is a mark of
      incompetence, and displaying your incompetence is a poor way
      to get someone to read your paper.  Remember that talking to
      an audience takes longer than talking to a mirror.


    – You are now thinking:  “All those dull speakers I’ve listened
      to should use these rules, but I don’t need them because my talks
      are interesting.”  All those dull speakers are now thinking exactly the
      same thing.  Read the rules again with the proper humility.  They
      apply to everyone.

        “The only wisdom we can hope to acquire
        Is the wisdom of humility:  humility is endless.”

4.  CODA – For Session Chairmen

– Be utterly ruthless about enforcing time limits.  Warn the
      speaker when he has 10 minutes left and when he has 5 minutes
      left, and stop him in midsentence when his time is up. 
      The audience will be grateful.  (A loud alarm clock works quite
      well if you don’t turn it off until the speaker has finished
       – Protect the speaker and the audience from inappropriate
      questions.  Questions should be allowed during the talk only
      if the audience is small and the question is a simple request
      for clarification.  After the talk, you must be prepared
      to silence the following two kinds of questioner.

        1.  One who leads the speaker into a long discussion of an
            obscure detail which is of no interest to most of the audience.
               2.  One who monopolizes the time arguing with the speaker over
            unresolvable philosophical issues.

      Remember that silencing one person enables the rest of the
      audience to ask questions.


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