Advice for technical speaking
Shamelessly pilfered from Geoff Gordon's advice pageWhen you hear a talk - a good one or a bad one! - think about the presentation as well as the content. Copy what works, and avoid what doesn't. If you see a great talk, examine it and try to figure out what makes it great. If you see a poor talk, examine it and ask yourself if you might make the same mistakes. Some of the most common mistakes are below, but people are really quite creative in coming up with new mistakes, so don't assume this list is complete!
Don't use too many slides. If you have more than one slide per minute, you are definitely using too many. One slide per two minutes is a much more reasonable pace.
Don't read your slides. You do not need to put everything you are going to say up on a slide; that's what speaker notes are for. Save your slides for things that don't work as well with just speech: figures, diagrams, movies, animations, extra emphasis on important concepts. If your slides are just lists of bullets, they should probably be speaker notes and not slides.
Don't put too many pixels on your slides. Use big fonts and contrasting colors. Projectors are notoriously bad at making ochre and mauve actually look different on the screen. If you copy a figure from a paper, ask yourself whether the text labels are big enough to read from the back of the room, and redo them if not.
Don't try and say too much. You can't explain everything you've been going in a semester project in 30 minutes - part of communicating is deciding what to leave out. If you feel like you have to rush to say what you need to say, you're going too fast: the presentation should be relaxed enough that people have a chance to reflect on what you say, and ask questions if they need to.
Talk concretely about your work. People are great at abstracting from examples, but it's hard work for them to think through high-level abstractions. (This is the opposite case from when you're programming a computer - then you always program the most general case possible, and let the computer instantiate it as needed.) When you're talking to a person, start with a concrete problem you want to solve, and then help the person understand how to generalize that concrete problem to the general case.
View your talk as an advertisement for your paper(s). Your goal is to convince your audience to use your ideas for their own work, so that they cite you and make you famous. Your goal is not to make them understand Equation 43 on page 17 (unless that convinces them to cite you and make you famous). Instead, say what your techniques are good for, why they're important, what the alternatives are, and how to choose when your techniques are appropriate instead of the alternatives. Then and only then, use the rest of the time on technical stuff, with the goal of giving listeners the tools to read your paper. (If you're talking about someone else's work, imagine instead that you're trying to get the audience to trust your evaluation of that work.)
Be honest and diligent. Don't try to cover up flaws or overstate the
applicability of your techniques; instead, try to discover flaws and
limitations and expose them.
Think concretely about your audience. Will they be able to understand
each slide as it comes up? Will they understand why each slide is
important? As a heuristic, I often find it best to prepare the first
version of a talk with
Talk at the right level for your audience. Remember that, almost by definition, you understand the material and they don't, and fight the inclination to go too fast. Be aware of people's cognitive limitations. Don't make your audience figure something out if you don't have to; that will save more processing power for what you want them to focus on. In particular:
Synthesize. The audience should get something out of your talk that they can't get as quickly or easily out of the paper(s). This means: pull together concepts from multiple papers if necessary; compare to related work; communicate your judgement about benefits and limitations of each technique.
Be careful with equations. You can use a limited number of equations if you want to, but make sure that you spend enough time explaining them that the audience truly understands them.
Start and end your talk well:
Don't waste your own time either. Don't spend lots of time designing pretty animations, flying text, etc., unless they will actually help audience comprehension and not distract from your talk. Every second spent animating is a second you don't have for explaining your ideas.