Some Topics to Consider When Critiquing Talks

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In general, was the talk Excellent? Very Good? Good? Fair? Poor?


  • Central message is compelling (precisely stated, appropriately repeated, memorable, and strongly supported.)
  • Good science
  • Clear explanations
  • Appropriate selection of information
  • Appropriate amount of material for the length of the talk
  • Slow beginning with sufficient background and definitions to understand the talk


  • Organizational pattern (specific introduction and conclusion, sequenced material within the body, and transitions) is clearly and consistently observable, is skillful, and makes the content of the presentation cohesive
  • Outline is given and followed throughout talk
    • Outline states messages of sections of the talk, not just "introduction", "results", "conclusion"
  • Logical flow
  • Clear
  • 3-part framework (“Tell them what you’re going to say; say it; tell them what you said”)

Visuals (Slides)

Please follow these Presentation Guidelines when preparing your slides.

  • Every slide has a title that is the main message of the slide
  • Entire content of slide is visible from back of room under ambient lighting conditions (color choice, size of fonts, etc.)
  • Layout of slides is simple
  • Emphasis on important information
  • Number (not too many or too few for content presented)
  • Appropriate figures used to illustrate concepts
  • Slides are polished: no typos, phrasing is consistent on entire slide (periods vs. no periods; complete sentences vs. phrases), etc.

Speaking Style (Language and Delivery)

  • Speaker is knowledgeable, well-prepared, and well-practiced
    • Speaker appears polished and confident
    • Attitude (friendly, calm, enthusiastic,…)
    • Speaker answers questions well
    • Emphasis on important information
  • Delivery techniques (posture, gesture, eye contact, and vocal expressiveness) make the presentation compelling
    • Speaker talks to audience instead of reciting memorized lines
    • Pace is not too fast, not too slow
  • Language choices are imaginative, memorable, and compelling, and enhance the effectiveness of the presentation
  • Language in presentation is appropriate to audience
  • Optional: use of pointer is steady, not circling
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