Yesterday evening I attended a dinner in honor of a famous scientist who received a honorary doctorate from Tel Aviv university. The setting was a beautiful coast-side villa of a successful businessmen, the audience: scientists and healthcare technology investors (corporate and venture capital). On the menu: some good food and 6 presentations. Here are some suggestions for scientists who get put “on the menu” for these types of events.
Investors. You have 6 minutes, you have 2 audiences: scientists and investors. This is probably not the right time to get insightful feedback from your science colleagues, however, you might hook the attention from a potential investor in your research you would not have met otherwise. So take the investor as your target audience and shape your content for her. Out with the detailed methodology, the detailed statistics, the history of your research, but in with the need (why is this such a horrible disease and how many people suffer from it), why is what you did so clever (other technologies fail, yours takes a fundamentally different approach), and why the early trial data shows that it works. And oh, if you are raising money for your project, say so.
Only charts when you need them. Six minutes: no bullet points, just pictures you need (statistical data, pictures of team members). Put black slides if you do not need the projector. A huge white screen in a dark garden completely overpowers the presenter.
Simplified statistics. Putting up the full scientifically responsible data chart over dinner is not effective. Laymen do not know how to read it. First explain what benchmark matters (survival rate for example). Then, make an incredibly simple char that compares the 2 benchmarks without the footnotes, n values, p values, standard deviation. All that can be discussed over coffee, not a glass of wine.
Stick to your time. If you have 6 minutes, use 6 minutes. Bringing along your 45 minute deck and trying to speed things up by talking faster and skipping slides does not create a compelling experience.
Stories. Put in some anecdotes to make your story more memorable.
Cut the gore. Images can be very powerful in presentations, but some medical photos are better be seen before dinner, not during.