Mathematical Communication is a developing collection of resources for engaging students in writing and speaking about mathematics, whether for the purpose of learning mathematics or of learning to communicate as mathematicians.

Resources for presentations: handouts & links

Many of the following resources were found by undergraduate researcher Noor Doukmak:

How to give an effective math talk

Giving Good Talks by Satyan L. Devadoss
From the Early Career Section of Notices of the American Mathematical Society, Nov 2019

10 Ancient Rules for Giving a Conference/Seminar/Research Talk in Mathematics, by A. Kercheval
From the Early Career Section of Notices of the American Mathematical Society, Nov 2019

How to Talk Mathematics by Paul Halmos
Touches on the issues of simplicity, details, proofs, problems, organization, preparation, brevity, techniques, flexibility, and short talks.

Talks are not the same as papers by Terry Tao

Technically speaking by Lew Ludwig
These NSF-funded video vignettes illustrate common presentation mistakes and how to correct them.

How to prepare a presentation? by Olivier Bernardi
This brief handout discusses not only the characteristics of an effective presentation but also the process of preparing one.

Advice on Giving Talks, by Joseph A. Gallian, 2006. Addresses writing a title and abstract, preparing transparencies, checking the room, delivering the talk, and after the talk. See also Gallian’s advice for PowerPoint presentations below.

The (Martial) Art of Giving Talks by Matilde Marcolli
This webpage describes the differences among various kinds of talks (colloquium talks, job talks, seminar talks, conference talks, short communications, and public lectures); provides advice for chalk talks and slide talks; and provides advice for handling various types of disruptive audience members.

Preparing a Math Presentation, by Susan Ruff. This 3 page handout for students addresses how the differences between reading a paper and watching a presentation affects how to craft a presentation to meet the audience’s needs. Touches on issues of audience, purpose, structure, technique, and handling questions.

Math Talks by Curtis Bennett and Frank Sottile, from Concerns of a Young Mathematician, an electronically distributed digest for discussions of the issues of concern to mathematicians at the beginning of their careers. Includes specific advice for different types of talks: colloquium talks, research seminars, talks at a meeting of specialists, and job talks.

How to present math in talks from a Social Science Statistics blog by Amy Perfors
“suggestions for how to present math in the most painless and effective way possible.”

How to Give a Good Colloquium by John E. McCarthy
Excerpts: “prove only tautologies” “subsidize graduate students who dine with the speaker.”

How to Give a Talk: Advice on Preparing and Presenting Technical Talks in the Mathematical Sciences Slides by Tammy Kolda
Excerpt: “Giving a good talk is important, particularly for students and recent graduates! More people will see your talks than will read your papers or will speak with you in person.”

Tips on giving talks by Jordan Ellenberg
Excerpt: “…there is not a suggestion here that I haven’t seen violated by someone. Often that someone was me; that’s how I know this is good advice.”

“How to Tell a Good Mathematical Story” by Igor Pak
This AMS Early Career notice provides advice for telling mathematical results in an engaging way.

“Math Talk: Preparing Your Conference Presentation”
AMS blog post focusing on conference presentations.

“Giving a Talk”
This AMS Early Career Notice by Bryna Kra outlines how to prepare for a math talk and ensure that presentations go smoothly.

General resources on preparing a talk (not specific to mathematics):

  • Editor’s choice: Technically Speaking: An illustrated guide for presenting research, by Tony Eng and Patrick Yurick, Gradx Professional Development, Office of Graduate Education, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, 2018. In this graphic-novel style collection of presentation advice, Tony Eng and illustrator Patrick Yurick provide lively recommendations for keeping the audience in mind, giving context by using narrative or highlighting differences, explaining the technical, controlling focus, and being concise. The chapter on explaining the technical by buying the audience time is particularly relevant to mathematics presentations.

Preparing a poster presentation

Resources for teachers (relevant literature)

Using Slides

For links to rubrics, see the page Feedback and Assessment for Presentations.

If you know of other good resources for giving math talks, please contribute them for this page.

Mathematics at the 2010 SACNAS National Conference

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