(TDD) Test-Driven Development – its use in scientific presentations

How does one know that everything is going to be fine “on the night”, or at least on the big day of our presentation? Of course, one could cross fingers – but should the index finger be over the middle finger or the opposite ¬†ūüôā One could rehearse, and rehearse, and rehearse as proposed here¬†– this works but can one rehearse the unexpected? The rehearsal trap¬†is so pernicious!

Do you know the meaning of the TDD acronym? If you do, you are a leading edge programmer.

“In Test-Driven Development, each new feature begins with writing a test. […] it makes the developer focus on the requirements¬†before¬†writing the code.”¬†(Wikipedia)

 How does that wonderful concept applies to scientific presentations?

The presenter has plenty of new features to test when leaving the safety of the simple black and white bullet slide, features like  video, audio, colors, live internet access, and others. Before creating a video, the producer makes sure that both camera and monitor are calibrated to the same color bars to guarantee color accuracy. In the early days of television, the TV stations broadcasted a test pattern before airing the programs so that the TV owners could turn the various alignment / calibration buttons to ensure image quality.
 The concept is not new, but as far as I now, it is not used, or at least not extensively, in presentations.

PowerPoint, Keynote, OpenOffice, … all these applications have their preferences when it comes to ¬†audio or video formats. But looking at computer requirements is not enough. How about taking into account the audience requirements like readability, audibility? And while we are at it, let’s add the presenter requirements like good eye contact with the audience.

How can TDD help?  Test these requirements prior to giving your presentation. Where? Right there in the room where you will present. Create specific PowerPoint slides that help you identify problems before they occur. I will not describe all the slides, just a few to give you the idea.

A slide to test color consistency between the computer image and the projected image

A slide to test projector resolution and alignment

A slide to test the presence of the video/audio / image codecs your ¬†presentation will require (for example, WMV, Mov, Mpeg4, Mpeg2, AIFF, WAV, Tiff, gif, Pic,…)

Slides cannot help you identify all problems. You will need the help of people to represent the audience and give you feedback on the adequacy of the sound system and room lighting.

TDD – now you know what it means and how to apply it in the context of an oral presentation.

By Jean-luc lebrun

Author: Jean-Luc Lebrun

This century: Writer on Scientific writing skills and scientific presentation skills, MC for scientific events, Podcaster, Radio Consultant, Trainer for Research Institutes in Engineering and Life Sciences, Singapore, and in European doctoral schools, as well as in South East Asia Universities.
Last Century: Apple Computer, Advanced Technology Group, Technology Information manager. Then Director of the Apple-ISS Research Centre – a joint venture between Apple Computer and the National University of Singapore. Producer of TV program on IT for Singapore Channel 5.

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