I've sat through a couple of presentations this week and reviewed two papers for an international conference. In all instances, I was bored to death. I almost fell asleep at one of the presentations and it took me two days to get through a 6-page paper as I couldn't get past the first two incomprehensible pages. While listening/reading, I kept asking myself, what's the story? Tell me a story instead of giving a bunch of technical mambo-jumbos.
Why is it too difficult to make a presentation that presents a technical topic in a story format? I realized presentations and papers can even follow the fairy-tale format, something that even young kids will understand. Consider these parallels between a fairy-tale and a technical presentation as a complete story arc:
- In a land far far away... >> Current situational context (social, technical, etc)
- Then an evil witch suddenly appears... >> The problem to be solved (technical, social)
- But there's a reluctant hero who can save the land... >> State of the art but with gaps
- The reluctant hero needs to get a magic sword... >> The proposed method that can improve state-of-the-art and solve the problem
- The reluctant hero battles the witch... >> Experimental or simulation details/results
- The hero prevails and the witch is vanquished... >> Discussion
- And they live happily ever after... >> Conclusion
- What's the current situation and what seems to be the problem?
- Why do you want to solve it and what's your solution?
- Convince me with your result.
As I strongly believe, proper story-telling is fundamental to sharing, discussing, and discovering ideas, which is what research is all about.