Posts by Bart Janssen

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  • Hard News: Higgs Live!, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Doesn’t that suggest that it’s in the interests of good scientists to communicate effectively?

    It's worth noting that what you guys all assume is an easy thing, that is, seeing how a presentation could be made better, just isn't that easy for some people. It really doesn't come naturally to some people who are in other areas very talented.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4192 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Higgs Live!, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Doesn’t that suggest that it’s in the interests of good scientists to communicate effectively?

    Sure. I do get the value of being good at presentation. But if I get money for another FTE I'm going to spend it on a tech or scientist who can generate more data not on someone who can make the presentation pretty.

    If I had enough money (snort) yeah I'd consider spending some of it on getting support for improving presentations. The problem is that you frequently end up with a burgeoning marketing group that spends more time on new business logos and rebranding the institute than helping scientists make their talks just a bit better.

    Should scientist get to go on courses that teach them how to use the tools better?Sure. But if I only get to travel overseas to one conference in 5 years I'm damn well not going to a photoshop course!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4192 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Higgs Live!, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Are there many presentational rockstars at serious conferences? And how are they regarded?

    I've been thinking about this. And I'm still not sure I know the answer. Yes there are some people who really do "give a good talk" but that isn't quite the same as being presentational rockstars.

    Kary Mullis (Nobel for PCR) gave a riveting talk for 2 hours on how HIV hasn't been proven to cause AIDS. Without a single visual aid.

    I also have absolutely vivid memories of seeing videos showing how auxin (a plant hormone) moves in the little cluster of cells at the top of the plant that subsequently grow out into everything you see. But I'm not sure the rest of the talk was a masterpiece of presentation.

    When we say "gives a good talk" we are generally combining content with presentation in the evaluation.

    Basically the talks that have stayed with me have done so because of the data not the presentation.

    That said I have come out of a talk and said to friends "that is how NOT to present that data" and yet still been impressed by the data.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4192 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Higgs Live!, in reply to Ross Mason,

    but it scares the shit out of me watching a not so good scientist do a presentation with a really cool presentation.

    It is those that get the ear of the managers and the marketers.

    and in the ears of the politicians

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4192 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Higgs Live!, in reply to Jarno van der Linden,

    I believe these types of presentations also tend to get re-used a lot for different conferences

    Most definitely. My boss in the us insistent each poster had to go to at least 3 conferences to be worth the bother.

    Some slides get used for decades!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4192 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Higgs Live!, in reply to Tom Beard,

    I’d go so far as to say that a modicum of visual literacy should be a prerequisite for scientists.

    Nope. Yes it is nice, but you want a scientist because they have knowledge and skills and yes intellect that can advance science. There have been some amazing scientists who've struggled to communicate with anyone yet have contributed to the human condition. I think of communication skills as a bonus not a prerequisite.

    When you ask for all sorts of other skills as well you risk losing appropriate value on the real skill they bring to the table.

    That said, interpersonal skills so bad they disrupt the ability of colleagues to perform are kind of derailing (much like my contribution to this thread :)).

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4192 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Higgs Live!, in reply to Emma Hart,

    You mean forced to read

    I wasn't going to mention the electrodes...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4192 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Higgs Live!, in reply to Tom Beard,

    But it seems that they made an active design decision to put in cheesy clip art and choose a font that is the typographic equivalent of baby talk.

    Sure. But that’s because they were not good at design. They thought it would look cool and it didn’t.

    So what.

    They conveyed their data in a form that those with the background knowledge to understand it could do so. Those without that background knowledge (like me) just look at the graphics and nod.

    To me it’s like criticizing an artist for bad grammar in the gallery programme.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4192 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Higgs Live!, in reply to Russell Brown,

    and see simply superb visual presentations of technical content.

    And there are folks in science who are very good at presenting their data.

    I'm not bad with parts of photoshop myself and learned to use Pagemaker and its bastard child InDesign. I've seen science talks that have included paintings by the scientists themselves and I've seen images that were composed so beautifully they could have been in any art gallery (and sometime were) and just happened to convey an important piece of data as well.

    And despite my rant I've worked with some really good marketing people who have added their skills to mine to make my work look better.

    It's just that when someone gets the design or presentation wrong, in the end most scientists don't really care. If they get the data wrong though ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4192 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Higgs Live!, in reply to st ephen,

    New Zealand’s CRI’s have certainly spent time over the years developing style guides, selecting fonts and colour schemes, engaging design consultants to refresh and road-test them with stake-holder focus groups, rebranding, creating templates for presentations, brochures, posters and umpteen different types of reports etc etc.

    This!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4192 posts Report Reply

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