MAE Seminar: Rethinking Research Presentations - The Assertion-evidence Approach

Zoom Link
Michael Alley

Teaching Professor, Engineering Communications
Pennsylvania State University

Abstract: From an audience’s perspective, many research presentations suffer because the talks are unfocused. This lack of focus leads to much noise, which reduces the understanding by the audience. Much of the problem arises from speakers following PowerPoint’s defaults and building their talks on phrase headlines supported by bulleted lists. This class period presents the assertion-evidence approach ( to designing research presentations. In this approach, the speaker builds the talk on key messages supported by visual evidence. Our research has found that assertion-evidence talks are more focused and much better understood by audiences. In addition, our speakers (even those initially nervous about making presentations) report that using the assertion-evidence approach has given them more confidence.

Bio: Michael Alley, teaching professor of engineering communication at Penn State, is the author of The Craft of Scientific Writing (Springer, 2018) and The Craft of Scientific Presentations (Springer, 2013). Over the past decade, he has taught writing and presentations to scientists and engineers across the United States and in Europe, Asia and South America. Alley’s website on writing and speaking are top Google listings for the topics of engineering writing and engineering presentations.