When preparing for my presentation at CHI this year, I consulted a number of people for advice, including my advisor, critics of the conference, and other experienced presenters. My main concern was that I was presenting a short paper. This meant one of two things for an audience member:
- they’d seen the paper in which case I didn’t want to rehash things they already knew
- they’d not seen the paper so I couldn’t make any assumptions about what they knew
The overarching advice I was told was “tell a story”. Now one can take this literally and start saying, “a funny thing happened to me on the way over to the conference,” but the real point is that your presentation itself should be a story in and of itself.
After watching numerous paper and short paper sessions, I can understand why so many people find it frustrating to watch these presentations and why they avoid them in favour of panels, SIGs or interactive sessions. In the hopes that this will improve even one paper presentation next year, here’s some advice for the conference, and for the speakers.