Industry Presentation Format

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Industry Presentation Format

Postby SJT » Thu Sep 14, 2006 5:57 pm

I will be interviewed for a Sr. R&D Scientist position at a medical device company. I have been asked to prepare a presentation (30min.)on one of my major technical expertise. My question is, in industry are presentations the same format as academia? i.e. Introduction, Materials and Methods, Results and Discussion. Or is there is a specific kind of format for industry presentations?
I would also appreciate any tips on how to prepare for industry presentations, if different from academic presentations.
thank you very much,
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Industry Presentation Format

Postby Dave Jensen » Thu Sep 14, 2006 6:17 pm

I hope that Kevin, Andy, or Derek can jump in on this one, regarding any differences they perceive in the job talk from what you describe. Your format sounds acceptable to me, but there is a difference in attitude that you may need to consider. See the "Job Talk Jitters" article from Tooling Up,

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Industry Presentation Format

Postby Derek McPhee » Thu Sep 14, 2006 7:12 pm

I think although perhaps little more than semantics, replacing Introduction with Background, glossing over the Materials and Methods (unless therein lies the crux of the presentation) and focusing Results and Discussion as 1) Problem - 2) Problem Solution goes over better in industry. Also be prepared to highlight what was your work and what was "team" results, preferably during the talk at the appropriate place. The audience wants to hear what you contributed to the solution(s) (but without being boastful - they are looking for team players, so recognizing the contributuons of others is important. It really gives a poor impression when the listeners can't tell what your contributions were and have to ask you directly later (and ask they will), which may leave you in the very awkward position of fumbling your way back to some earlier slide to then say, I didn't do any of this (or was a minor player). Find out who your audience will be and tailor the content appropriately. Avoid jargon at all costs (unless it is something like DNA) and if you must use it, remember to define each acronym before you start throwing them around. One of your prime tasks in industry is communicatiing information to people who might not necessarily fully undertstand the scientific concepts. This are skills that they are looking out for.
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Industry Presentation Format

Postby Michael S. » Tue Sep 19, 2006 7:46 am

I just gave an industry presentation a week ago for an interview. The audience was full of computer modeling personnel, and my talk was in vivo neurodegeneration. I received many positive comments regarding how I made sure that the audience understood the background of the project, and that I didn't dwell on the technical aspects. I was told before that the search committee was just interested in the ability to problem solve, and to just show that I was proficient in the technique they were interested in.
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Industry Presentation Format

Postby Kevin Foley » Tue Sep 19, 2006 9:56 am

From a post I made at the beginning of the year (only slightly tongue-in-cheek):
Kevin’s Top Ten “Absolutely No Exceptions" Rules for Giving Job Seminars:

1) Wear a suit and tie (or the female equivalent, whatever that is!). If you are over-dressed, no one will really care; if you are under-dressed, you’ll look like a total dork.

2) 45 minutes + time for questions. Any shorter, and you’ll look like you didn’t work very hard; any longer, and half the audience will fall asleep. Going longer than one hour is instant, total doom.

3) Know your audience and give them what they want. It doesn’t matter how interesting you find something, if your audience isn’t interested it won’t help you land a job.

4) You have no doubt attended plenty of seminars over your career. Think about the seminars you enjoyed, and why, and then do the same thing. Tell a story: tell them what you are going to tell them, background, hypothesis, experiment, new hypothesis, experiment…conclusion. Don’t assume they know why it is important. Tell them why.

5) One slide, no more, no less, of background on each technique you use that is more complicated than PCR/Western/Southern blot (and if your audience includes a lot of MDs, you might want to include a slide on PCR too). Even if the lab has a Fluorescent Molecular Tomography instrument, still show that one slide, because half the audience will never had understand how it works and be eternally grateful to you for relieving their ignorance.

6) Practice your talk 15-20 times (with a timer) before your first interview, including 2 times in front of at least two experienced colleagues or mentors. And then practice it again at least 3 times before each interview. After a week layoff, your timing will start to fall apart.

7) Even if you have absolutely no sense of humor, tell two very short, mild jokes. But they’d better be at least slightly funny, so practice. Something about the weather or airplane travel at the start of the seminar is pretty standard. I once told a “boneless chicken farm" joke that went over very well (I studied developmental biology in chickens), but unless you have the accompanying Far Side cartoon, I wouldn’t recommend that.

8) Bring at least 2 different media versions of your presentation (laptop, CD, flashcard or overheads). In the “old" days I used to bring my slides already facing the right direction in my very own slide carousel! I usually bring all four, and thanks to a lotto odds-defying series of computer snafu’s, once actually had to give a job talk using my emergency backup overheads (that was good for a few jokes).

9) Tape record one of your practice talks for future reference. 3 years from now you might want to include some of this data in a future job talk, and trust me, as soon as you move into a new field, within 6 months the old field is permanently erased from your brain.

10) The old “imagining your audience in the nude" is for the birds. Practice, and knowing more about your subject than everyone else in the room is what makes public speaking easy. If you don’t know more than anyone else, why are you speaking?

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