Ever seen an outline slide like the one above in the wild? Bonus points for using the ugliest template in Power Point. Maybe the presenter even walked you through the four bullet points. Motivation. Methods. Results. Conclusions / Summary. Did you think "Golly, am I glad to know what to expect in this talk now!" Or did you rather think "Wow, what a waste of space and time"?

I am firmly in that second camp. What's the best I can say about that slide? It could be used in almost every talk ever given. The simple truth is: That slide is devoid of any information.

"But it gives me the outline!", I hear you say. Yes. But it's the same outline that 99.99% of all talks have. Is your talk structured in an unconventional way? Are you sure that's a good idea? Well, ok then, give me that outline. Can you fill the bullet points with more relevant meaning? Go right ahead then.

If not, please spare me that slide. What could you do instead?

Open your talk with an intriguing question, or with a teaser for an unexpected result.

Then you have my attention, and I will happily follow you through your adventure story of how you solved that exciting riddle!

What's almost as bad as the generic outline slide? A Thank you slide. Please don't do that. Do thank your audience, absolutely, and you better mean it: these folks just spent some of their valuable life time that they're never getting back, by listening to you. I better hope they took something away from your talk!

What can you do instead?

Close your talk on the Summary / Conlusions slide, and add some thumbnail pictures of what you showed in your talk. Then, make a clear statement that you are done, thank you, so that I know I can clap now, while looking at the slide.

This will give me something to think about after you conclude your talk, and while the chair is trying to start a discussion. Maybe I find a new question, or it reminds me of a question I had while seeing the slide.

Bonus points for adding your contact information on the slide, in case someone would like to follow up!

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