Projector or no Projector?

Update: We have now made a decision regarding this.

We’ve been discussing if we should be providing a projector and projector screen for our speakers. Indeed, will the volunteer speakers expect there to be a projector available at the PubhD events? Will they be bringing their PowerPoint presentations on a USB drive?

At each event we expect there to be 3 PhD students, each speaking for a maximum of 10 minutes (with up to 20 minutes Q&A). We’re currently leaning towards the “no projector” option – it seems that it could become a hassle trying to swap presentations over for 10 minute talks.

Also, we are trying to make this event as cheap as possible. We hope to be in a position to just ask the audience to put 50p to £1 into the kitty to pay for the speaker’s drinks. We may be able to initially borrow a projector – but ultimately, we don’t want to have to charge more so that we can build up a kitty to pay for and maintain our own projector.

So, what are your thoughts? Can a PubhD speaker talk for 10 minutes about their research without the need for a projector? Or are there some academic areas that just cannot be explained to an audience of laypeople without a PowerPoint?

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14 thoughts on “Projector or no Projector?

  1. I’m not likely to be one of your presenters but whenever I speak I expect a laptop and projector to be provided – and some presentations will be difficult if the speaker wants to show graphs etc.

  2. Pictures & charts are fab *if used well*! But seeing this is explain your PhD to a *layperson* (aka the rest of us), not necessary.

    Not to mention it’ll be in a pub and take away from the valuable sampling of ales time.

  3. I agree with the above, if the aim is to keep it simple, fun and informal then I think we should avoid things like PowerPoint etc that give it university feel.

  4. As an arts and humanities person I can work with or without a projector, I don’t have any graphs etc. However in giving a 10-minute public overview it would be nice to have some images or quotes on a screen to work off, makes it more interesting than just reading off a paper straight.

  5. I think that for a lot of the physics and maths based projects, a projector will be very useful and almost essential. The subject matter can be very dry on it’s own, and without helpful pictures or diagrams it can take a long time to explain.

    For most ‘lay’ people listening to a heavily maths based project, It will be much easier to understand the presentation by seeing a visualisation of what the speaker is explaining.

  6. As a speaker on social science issues, particularly economic issues, I prefer to talk with audiences with several slides of figures and key words, which not only maximize the efficiency of limited time, but contributes to a better understanding of issues for the audience.

  7. I have many beautiful graphs and matrixes and things I am most proud of. But I think to keep it to ten minutes, and promote this as a useful exercise in developing public speaking and brevity skills, no projector might be easiest.

  8. I agree with both points of view expressed above. Let me elucidate! I suspect most, if not all, of us have endured a PowerPoint presentation (and I suspect I have even been guilty of this sin) – so for a 10 minute presentation, talking without a projector will be a good skill to develop/practice.

    However, well done, a good presentation (not just closely typed words that would be better on a handout or similar) does add something to a presentation and I can imagine some subjects will probably come across more clearly to an audience with a presentation.

    I am happy to go with either option, though I will be able to access a projector and laptop through work (the perk of being a staff member and doctoral student) if that helps if/when I have a slot. Sadly I won’t be able to provide a wall to project on!!!

    Best wishes, Alan.

  9. I don’t mind whether there is a projector or not but I would like something to write on such as a white board or A3 Flip chart just because I want the definitions in the background for lay people to refer to.

  10. As someone who always speaks with a projector (not powerpoint where I can avoid it, though), I would _expect_ there to be a projector.

    However, I think with what you are doing, removing the projector would actually be a feature. PubhD will be more fun and easier for others to copy if there is a well-defined format. The strict 10 minute limit and no visual aids feed into this. I think there should be a third rule though, for completeness. No firm views on what the rule should be though – maybe the talk must be conducted with a drink in one hand? Presenter must take a drink every time a word outside of UP-GOER-FIVE is used?

    • Ha Ha! Thanks Drew…we’ll, erm, consider turning this into a glorified drinking game. 🙂

      But yes, I’m with you on the strictly defined format that can easily be replicated by other groups.
      I think we’ll start with whiteboard+pens, and see how it goes for the first 2-3 events.

      • The other way you might consider is the rules of the “Three Minute Thesis” (3MT) competition – presenters are allowed exactly one static slide. Clearly not worth _buying_ a projector for though.

        Their only other format rules are that the presentation must be spoken word (no rap songs or beat poetry), no pre-recorded bits, and the presentation must start from the stage. I shudder to think of the past experiences that required those rule introductions.

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