Talking About Bacteria–With Gusto: A Lesson for Technical Presenters

by Susan de la Vergne


Imagine you’ve been invited to a presentation by a molecular biologist who is planning to tell you, in some detail, about the life cycle and behavior patterns of bacteria, describing research about the ways in which bacteria operate both individually and collectively.

I know what you’re thinking: “No thanks, I’ve been to one too many technical presentations this month. I’ll pass.”

But before you decide that “technical presentation” is just a synonym for dry and boring, check this out: Dr. Bonnie Bassler on “How Bacteria Communicate.” Even if you don’t have the slightest interest in bacteria, tune into just how engaging this is—energetic, rehearsed, and enthusiastic (about bacteria, remember). And notice how few slides she uses, by the way!

Here’s her 18-minute TED talk from April 2009.

Yeah, she could slow down a little, but her intensity is part of what gives this presentation energy! There is much to take away from how Dr. Bassler delivers this presentation, especially if you’re a presenter who explains content-rich, technical subject matter.

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