Some slides from a recent talk about genome assembly (and thoughts on evolving slide decks)

Last week I presented a talk about genome assembly at a UC Davis Bioinformatics Core workshop. The first time that I gave this talk, it concentrated almost exclusively on the the results from our Assemblathon 2 paper. In the handful of times that I've subsequently given this talk, it has always evolved:

  1. More background to better explain some of the more common terminology in this field
  2. Less detail about the specifics of the Assemblathon 2 results
  3. New information relating to the latest developments in sequencing and assembly
  4. Added an 'intermission' so I can explain why I think Next-generation sequencing must die

Even if I didn't add any new content to my talk, and even if I was giving the same talk twice in the same week, I would still almost certainly change some aspect of my presentation. Here are some reasons for why I often end up changing things:

  1. Things which seemed like a good idea when planning and making slides, don't always work as well in front of an actual audience. Sometimes this might be unnecessary detail which slows things down, or it might be something which is no longer as relevant (or exciting) as when you first gave a talk on this topic.
  2. Inevitably there will be some parts of my talk which don't flow as well as others. Sometimes I will switch the order of sections, or drop sections altogether.
  3. If people ask me questions during the talk, then this is often because something is unclear. I try to make mental reminders about this, as it might mean that there is something I can better explain.
  4. Some visual elements will look great on my screen, and even on certain projectors, but then I will give a talk somewhere where a different projector makes a slide look horrible. Most common it will be when two colors end up looking far too similar. Always a good idea to change things so that they look clear on any projector.
  5. If I know that the audience for a talk may contain many people that don't speak English as their primary language, I might add more text content on key slides.
  6. A final reason for changing content is just to keep your talk fresh. It's possible that you become stale when you give the exact same talk over and over again. Changing the order of sections, or adding/removing content, means that you have to re-engage with your own material.

But hey, enough of my yakking…here are the slides. Note that I include two versions; the first version doesn't have any notes (harder to follow as I often prefer to talk around what's on my slides). The second version has notes added below each slide (these notes try to capture the gist of what I talk about on each slide). Also, don't be alarmed by the high slide count, each animation step appears as a separate slide (so that you can almost capture all of the animated fun of a real Keith Bradnam presentation).